Back in November I had the chance to visit Hirosaki for the Chrysanthemum Festival. Hirosaki is a town in the northern part of Honshu, the main island of Japan.
The main point of interest here this time of year is Hirosaki Castle and the surrounding gardens. Another major highlight would be the apples. Aomori prefecture is the top producer of apples in Japan, but when it comes to cities within the prefecture, Hirosaki tops them all.
For the most part this post will just be pictures. I wish I could say the pictures tell the whole story of the beauty and tranquility here, but sadly, the pictures can't even compare. The whole area was covered in the most amazing autumn colors, and the gardens were packed with beautiful floral displays.
This is the road as we were approaching the entrance.
Since this is a castle area, of course you would expect to find some water surrounding the area.
This is at the entrance of the garden area.
Here I am, just enjoying the crisp fall day in Hirosaki.
This is for all of you that really like pandas.
This is for the elephant lovers (yes Mer, this is for you, but I already sent you this picture)
This is for any giraffe lovers out there.
You can see they are really big into the chrysanthemums, and they even eat them in Aomori. One of the Japanese girls I know said that Americans will buy the petals in the grocery store and sprinkle them around the table thinking they are decoration, but the Japanese think it is funny because that would be the equivalent of the Japanese sprinkling spinach around their table. It's supposed to be eaten, not used as a decoration! Glad I learned that early on!
Another major component to this festival is the displays of dolls dressed using flowers.
They even have scenes of warriors made from flowers too.
I believe these were on display for judging.
You can see more of those dolls off in the distance.
They even had them staged in boats.
Inside this little house were more dolls.
This is on the inside.
Look at the deep red color of the leaves.
I found it so relaxing and I had some time before the bus headed back home, so I took a nice stroll through the wooded area in the gardens.
Nice and relaxing!
Then I proceeded through this gate to head up to the castle area.
Check that out! So beautiful! I hear it is even more beautiful in the Spring for the Cherry Blossom Festival.
Inside there are displays of swords and other samurai gear.
These stairs were seriously steep. I was impressed some older visitors were able to navigate up and down them.
Here it is from the other side, as I was leaving and heading towards the other end of the park.
I stopped to enjoy the mountain view.
Then I stopped by the water to enjoy the scenery.
Before I headed out I stopped to try a pancake filled with red bean paste.
Then on the way back to the bus I found these guys hand making crackers.
Those were all made by hand. I thought it was so neat, and I thank them for letting me take pictures.
He starts by putting some nuts in the mold, then adds the dough, and then they are pressed and cooked.
I am a huge pistachio fan, so I bought some to take home.
Had I known they were going to be amazing I would have bought more.
See, they are apple crazy here. They have apple everything on sale. I even bought apple wine.
Of course I also could not leave without buying an apple.
One last tasty purchase for the day. On the bus ride back, when we stopped for a bathroom break, I tried my first ice cream out of a vending machine. It was awesome!
Yum! Just as I expected, it was not too sweet.
So that was it for a fun filled day at Hirosaki Castle for the Chrysanthemum Festival. It was well worth the trip and I look forward to heading back in the Spring for the Cherry Blossom Festival.
QUESTIONS: What's your favorite kind of apple? Have you ever made crackers? Do you get to experience a true fall where you live?