Takada Castle Million-Visitor Cherry Blossom Festival
What is the Million-Visitor Cherry Blossom Festival?
About Takada Castle
In 1614, the castle was built by Matsudaira Tadateru,the 6th son of Tokugawa Ieyasu. The castle was build on the command of Tadateru's wife's father, Date Masamune, and was a big construction project of the Edo era military. While there were no castle towers or stone walls, in the short span of 4 months this great castle was constructed with some 600,000 stones (some say 750,000 stones). At the same time, the castle town grew, and even today you can see some vestiges of that era. This year marks the 401st year since Matsudera Tadateru came to Takada in Joetsu to build this castle and open the town.
Takada Park is the park around the ruins of Takada Castle. In 1909, to celebrate the 13th Division conquering the castle, local troops planted some 2200 cherry blossom trees around the park, which is said to be the origin of today's Cherry Blossom Festival.
After that, in 1914 the cherry blossoms began to bloom together, so that by 1917, regular citizens were permitted onto the grounds.
In the newspaper of the day, the following restrictions were posted regarding cherry blossom viewing in Takada Park:
1) Open from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
2) The Front and East Gates remain open for passage, but entrance through the North Gate is forbidden.
3) Smoking tabacco is not permitted outside of the rest areas.
4) Entrance to buildings without a permit is forbidden.
5) Don't break off the cherry branches.
6) Do not enter the game booths or outdoor stalls.
7) Singing of school songs and other such games are forbidden.
About the Million-Visitor Cherry Blossom Festival.
In those days, different from today's Cherry Blossom Festival, visitors were not allowed to walk freely in the park, and food stalls were not lined up together. In designated areas only, visitors were allowed to quietly view and enjoy the cherry blossoms.
In 1925, “Hosho-Kai”, a organization for preserving beautiful sceneries, was formed. While promoting the beauty of the cherry blossoms, outdoor food and game stalls were allowed for the first time. By April of the next year, the first modern Cherry Blossom Festival was held.
Almost all of the cherry blossoms planted around the park are of the "Somei Yoshino" variety. Beginning with the cherry trees planted along the wide inner and outer moat which surrounds the castle, there are some 4,000 trees competing in bloom. 3,000 lanterns help reflect the blossoms in the water, making a scene famously beautiful in Japan. Along with Ueno's Onshi Park, and Hirosaki Park in Aomori, Takada Park is known as one of the three best locations in Japan for nighttime cherry blossom viewing.
During the Cherry Blossom Festival, crowds of people gather to enjoy some 300 food stalls lining the grounds, and enjoy what has become a symbol of spring in Echigo (Niigata)
Takada Park has been selected as one of the best 100 cherry blossom landmarks in Japan as well as one of the 100 best historical parks