The Fascinating Scenic Beauty of Edo Period Gardens and Castles. A Leisurely Journey Exploring the Castles and Gardens of Eastern Japan.

This is the perfect plan for those wondering "Where should I go during the holidays?". We have some trail recommendations that will allow you to immerse yourself in history and find solace in Japanese gardens and landscapes. Allow time to stand still and relish in a leisurely experience amidst the scenic landscapes carefully preserved over generations. It is recommended to check in advance for updates as some spots may host seasonal events. 

Starting from Hachinohe Station, take the Tohoku Shinkansen to Morioka Station, then transfer to the Akita Shinkansen and ride to its final destination, Akita. On the next stage of the journey, continue on the Shinkansen via Sendai and head towards Koriyama, then transfer to a local train and make your way to Aizu-Wakamatsu Station. Finally, for the final destination, take a combination of local trains and highway buses to reach Honai Station. Please note that the transfer times and modes of transportation may vary depending on the time of day, so be sure to search for appropriate transportation options based on your schedule.

"Hachinohe Nambu Clan Garden" in Hachinohe city Open to the general public for free during autumn and spring! This garden was created by Nambu Nobuyuki in the late Edo period.

The Hachinohe Nambu Clan Garden(pictured) was created in 1847 (Kōka 4) with the arrival of Nambu Nobuyuki, who was appointed as the 9th lord of the Hachinohe domain from the Shimazu family of Kagoshima in the late Edo period. The garden features over 30 pine trees, azaleas, and several hundred-year-old fir trees. On clear days, visitors can enjoy a picturesque view of the magnificent Hakkoda Mountains in the distance. This garden is open to the public free of charge twice a year during spring (for about four days in late May) and autumn (for about four days in early November). 

Recommended sight seeing spot
The Hachinohe Nambu Clan Garden
 Originally, this garden served as a lookout point to monitor foreign ships and as a resting place (taya) for the lords. It is said that later it was developed into a garden by skilled gardeners from Satsuma (present-day Kagoshima). Among the various styles of Japanese gardens, the Hachinohe Nambu Clan Garden showcases the "Hōraisan-style," which represents the legendary mountain of utopia and where hermits reside, depicted as an island floating in the water. It also follows the "Kaiyū-shiki" style, allowing visitors to appreciate the garden while strolling around the central pond. Moreover, you can witness the "kare-sansui" (pictured) style, which portrays the sea and rivers without using any water. The garden features carefully arranged elements such as Tsukiyama (artificial hills), stone lanterns, and bridges.


Address:4-23-3 Uruichi, Hachinohe-shi, Aomori

Former Akita Clan Lord Satake's Villa (Nyojitei) Garden: A Peerless Beauty in Tohoku, Nationally Designated as a Place of Scenic Beauty.

Joshitei - National scenic beauty Former Lord of Akita Domain Satake’s villa (pictured) - originally began during the Genroku period of the Edo era when Satake Yoshiuzmi, the third lord of Akita Domain, developed a villa on land granted to his vassals, the Oshima family. It later became the resting place for the domain lord and was named "Joshitei" by the ninth lord, Satake Yoshimasa, inspired by a passage from the Analects of Confucius: " [Time] passes on just like this, not ceasing day or night (逝者如斯夫、不舎昼夜)" It was used as a place to entertain guests and as a hub for cultural exchange among literati both within and outside the domain. After its opening in 2017 (Heisei 29), Joshitei started offering public experiences, for example, observing ikebana (flower arrangement) and displaying hina dolls. The admission fee is 210 yen for adults, 160 yen for groups of 20 or more, and free for high school students and younger.

Recommended sight seeing spot
Joshitei - National Place of Scenic Beauty: The Garden of the Former Akita Clan Lord Satake's Villa
 Joshitei is considered to be a renowned garden that vividly preserves the characteristics of a Kaiyu-shiki style garden since the Muromachi period, making it a valuable cultural heritage for understanding the daimyo gardens (a Japanese feudal lord's garden) and their associated culture in the Tohoku region. It exhibits elements of borrowed scenery and viewing aesthetics, leading the modern landscape architect Nagaoka Yasuhei to praise it as "an one-of-a-kind garden in Tohoku." In 2007 (Heisei 19), it was designated as a National scenic beauty. From 2014 (Heisei 26), restoration and maintenance work based on the site's remains and historical materials took place, resulting in the opening of the garden as the "Former Lord of Akita Domain Satake’s villa (Joshitei)". While taking a stroll through the garden, visitors can enjoy a number of attractions, including waterfalls, water streams, scenic stones, stone lanterns, tea houses, and the "Fifteen Scenic Views of the Garden." The ever-changing landscape, enriched by seasonal plantings, offers a delightful experience.


Address:2-73, Asahikawa-minamimachi, Akita-shi, Akita

"Tsuruga Castle" in Aizuwakamatsu City Symbol of the Renowned Aizu Domain, Ruled by Famous Generals! Renovated Castle Tower.

The predecessor of Tsurugajo Castle is said to be the Higashi-Kurokawayakata, built by Ashina Naomori in 1384 (Shitoku 1). In 1593 (Bunroku 2), Gamō Ujisato built the first full-fledged castle tower in eastern Japan and named it "Tsuruga Castle" (pictured). During the Boshin War of 1868 (Keio 4), it withstood a month-long of fierce attacks by the forces of the new government and gained a reputation as an impregnable fortress. By 1874 (Meiji 7), all the buildings, including the castle tower, were demolished. However, in 1965 (Showa 40), the castle tower was reconstructed, and during the Heisei era, the tea house and corner towers were also restored. In 2011 (Heisei 23), the roof tiles were replaced with red tiles resembling those from the end of the Edo period. The castle tower underwent renewal in April, 2023.

Recommended sight seeing spot
Tsuruga Castle (Aizuwakamatsu Castle)
 After undergoing construction work, such as seismic reinforcement to ensure long-term durability, Tsuruga Castle's main tower reopened on April 28th, 2023. In addition to updated exhibits, visitors can experience the history of Tsuruga Castle through “Digital Art: Tsuruga Castle, Illuminated Historical Scrolls,” which includes projection mapping and audio guides. Various events will take place, including the Aizujuraku - a recreation of the market event, "Rakuichi," held by Lord Gamō Ujisato, as well as the rental of rowboats on the moat (800 yen, with a discount to 600 yen upon presentation of the ticket stub from the castle admission).


Address:1-1 Outemachi, Aizuwakamatsu-shi, Fukushima

"Michi-no-eki Teien-no-sato Houchi" in Sanjo city Pride of the Town Specializing in Gardening and Landscaping: 'See, Touch, and Enjoy' Roadside Station.

The horticultural culture of Honai is said to have been developed in the early 18th century when the villagers accompanying the magistrate who went to Edo, where the residence of the Tokugawa family was located, learned about tree care and grafting methods and spread the knowledge upon returning to the village. Just as the Sanjo metal industry developed to compensate for flood damage, Honai's horticulture also became a thriving industry that supported the village's livelihood, becoming more and more known in the neighboring areas by the late 18th century. "Michi-no-eki Teien-no-sato Honai" (pictured) is a roadside station where you can enjoy landscaping and horticulture.

Recommended sight seeing spot
Michi-no-eki Teien-no-sato Honai
 Upon entering through the main entrance, you will be greeted by a sprawling 30,000 square meters of greenery. There is a retail area called the "Garden Lifestyle Hall" where you can find a variety of plants, gardening supplies, and fresh local vegetables. Additionally, there is the "Garden and Horticultural Plant Exhibition Garden," showcasing traditional garden techniques of Honai combined with a contemporary natural aesthetic. The station also features a Japanese-style garden called the "Japanese Garden" (pictured), which seamlessly blends traditional garden elements with a modern nature-oriented approach. Furthermore, there is a nice restaurant, café, and ample facilities available at this roadside station.


Address:4035 Honai, Sanjo-shi, Niigata

Feel the Enduring Beauty of Japan. A Journey through Castles and Gardens with the Splendor of Seasonal Landscapes in Eastern Japan.

In this article, we explored a trail in Japan including the exploration of castles and leisurely strolls through Japanese gardens. Please note that the Hachinohe Nambu Clan Garden is open to the public only twice a year, so be sure to check the opening dates in advance.

  • All prices in the article include tax. Prices are subject to change without notice.