When I visited Nagahama Castle in mid-March, the Hou Park's famed cherry blossom trees surrounding the castle were not quite in bloom yet. However, given a couple more weeks, the castle would be seen surrounded by the pink blossoms of the trees in full bloom.
Now known as Nagahama Castle, it was originally named Imahama Castle by its creator, and the second of Japan's great unifiers, the famous historical figure Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi was a feudal lord, known as a daimyo, during the Sengoku Period, which lasted from 1467 to 1600.
Nagahama Castle is a historical site of great importance for several reasons. After the castle was constructed, the castle town that grew up around it was the first of its kind in Japan. Following its construction, Hideyoshi is known to have resided at Nagahama Castle for seven years. Additionally, with the castle as his headquarters, Hideyoshi won the famous nearby Battle of Shizugatake, gaining him fame and prestige throughout Japan.
From the top floor, on the observation deck, you can see beautiful views of Lake Biwa, as well as many historical sites including Odani Castle, Hikone Castle, the Shizugatake Battlefield, and the Sekigahara Battlefield. From this vantage point alone you can imagine how important a site Nagahama Castle was.
The castle is about a four-minute walk from exit A08 of Nagahama Station.