Tohoku Photo Gallery - Kakunodate

Kakunodate is a historic castle town dating from 1620 that is famous for its samurai houses and cherry blossoms. Shinkansen trains now take only 3 hours to reach here from Tokyo.

From the JR station, it is a 20-minute walk to the historic samurai district.

Several samurai houses are open along the cherry blossom-lined main street. Not all charge admission, although some are still occupied so the extent of sightseeing varies from house to house.

The castle used to sit on top of a hill overlooking the town and the river, but the building is long gone although the view is quite nice. From the northern end of the samurai district, it is an easy paved uphill walk to the viewpoint.

Cherry trees line the Hinokinai riverfront, which is just a short walk from the samurai district. The trees were planted in 1934 to celebrate the birth of Akihito, Japan's current emperor. Today during the spring, it becomes a spectacular sea of pink, and one of the best cherry blossom destinations in the country.

The samurai and merchant quarters were deliberately separated in the town plan. Nevertheless, many old storehouses have survived in the merchant district, such as Nishinomiyake.

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