By Cathy Cawood
I was born in Kofu, and I am now living near the main train station. So today, because the weather was great (though a bit cold!) I decided to take a walk to Kofu Castle. It is about 2 minutes walk from the south exit of Kofu station.
For the Japanese, castles were always a very important presence, hence their position in the middle of the town. Long ago, though the location was close, the public was not allowed to go inside. Nowadays, however, most castles have become a popular location for citizens.
Kofu Castle was built approximately 400 years ago by Ieyasu Tokugawa, who was a very important shogun. The construction ended in 1873. Recently the gate and some of the castle's buildings have been restored and it has become a public park. And happily, the entrance is free!
The white building seen on the left of on of my photographs is called Inari Yagura and was built in 2004. It is very beautiful, and if you are interested in history, you can find old documents and photographs of the castle in there. It is quite interesting.
While climbing the hill, the scenery was so beautiful I could imagine the samurai feelings back then! I looked at a wall, solidly made with stones; when I was a kid, I used to play there, climbng up and down the sides.
I then reached a large space called Honmaru. This place is known for being the center of the castle where political decisions were made. It is literaly the very core of the of the castle. The building on the left side is the remains of a castle tower. It is possible to climb this tower to see some splendid scenery. On this occasion, I was definitely feeling like a samurai! From the hill where the castle is situated, you can see all the surrounding area. I was very lucky, because the weather was clear enough to see Mount Fuji.
Besides Mount Fuji, the castle area is also good for hanami (cherry blossom viewing), because many sakura trees have been planted. When they blossom, Kofu Castle is dyed in pink. It is very beautiful, and every night they light them up so it is well worth seeing. Since the old days, Japanese have loved cherry trees, as I do. That is why every year everybody comes to see them. The cherry blossoms usually begin to bloom around mid-March. Why don't you come and enjoy the amazing scenery?
If you come to Kofu, take an hour to walk around the castle. It is an important historic spot, and it is conveniently close to Kofu station.
Walking time: about 40 minutes
Walking distance: approximately 2.4km
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