The area of Nihonmatsu boasts beautiful countryside scenery and offers plenty of locations for visitors to explore. One of the most popular tourist destinations is Nihonmatsu Castle, also known as Kasumiga-jo. Since the area has also been converted into a park, Nihonmatsu Castle is also known as Kasumigajo Park.
Although the nearby castle of Tsuruga-jo may be more popular due to a tumultuous history, Nihonmatsu Castle offers peaceful gardens and trails for a more relaxed visit. I have visited Nihonmatsu Castle twice; once to explore the castle grounds, and the other time to see their annual Chrysanthemum exhibit. During my first visit, we got lost in the maze of trails and over the course of a few hours, we still hadn't explored it all. We stopped by a pond, strolled past a few waterfalls, and admired the castle walls.
The whole grounds were picturesque and a great place for a picnic. There are tables and benches strategically placed around the castle grounds and you can see everything from waterfalls, luscious expansion of green grass, statues, shrines, to uninhabited neighboring hills and mountains from the top of the castle ruins.
As for the history of Nihonmatsu Castle, it is actually made up two castles. The newest castle (constructed in the mid-1600s) was built on the remains of an older castle. While the castle itself has been restored, the castle wall remains the same as it had been hundreds of years ago.
Some of the recommended times to visit Nihonmatsu Castle is during the spring when all 1,700 cherry trees on the castle grounds are in bloom. In the fall, the red, orange and yellow leaves are a great backdrop to the green landscape. You also have the added bonus of viewing the Chrysanthemum exhibit, which displays dolls adorned in chrysanthemums to depict scenes in history, in addition to a petting zoo and more. If you find yourself in the area from October 4th to October 6th (held on this date every year), there is an annual lantern festival.
The park is open to the public, all throughout the year. Nihonmatsu is a great castle and park, all rolled into one! I highly recommend visiting this castle, whether you are interested in the history (signs are written in English), scenery, or just looking for a place to relax. Just make sure to bring comfortable walking shoes!