Senshu Park in Akita City in Spring and Summer
If ever you find yourself in Akita City, Senshu Park (千秋公園）deserves to be near the top of your sightseeing list. Built on the ruins of Kubota Castle, home of the first lord of Akita, Kubota Han, the park is still a major location for tourists and locals alike. The former Kubota Castle was consumed in a great conflagration in 1880 and established as a park for the city in 1890, and the park has been in operation in some form for over 130 years. In the park, the four seasons can be felt and seen clearly each year, and today we’re going to take a look at the park in Spring and Summer.
Spring in Senshu Park means the cherry blossoms are blooming. All 700 of them. They start blooming mid-April and start to fall at the end of April.
On the way up to the park, you can stop at a small pond with a line of pink and white cherry blossoms. In the pond there are several turtles, and if you’re lucky you can get a close glimpse of them.
There are two major shrines in the park, Iyataka Shrine and the Yojiro Inari Shrine. In the photo below, we can see an image of a cherry blossom blooming over a memorial stone and near a rack for visitor’s Ema (絵馬) with an add for the local “Happinets” basketball team.
Another famous spot in the park is the Kubota Castle Watchtower, built on the site of what was the former Kubota Castle. The tower was re-constructed in 1989 and is considered the 9th of the 100 most famous castles in Japan by the Nihon Jyoukaku Kyoukai association.
At the start of summer, the Azaleas in the park go into full bloom. On nearly every hill one can spot red, white, pink, and purplish Azaleas blooming from the middle to the end of May.
Towards the end of summer, the lotuses in the pond in front of the park fully bloom. These lotus blossoms are a strain called Oga (大賀蓮) and the lotus in the pond are related to a strain of lotus seeds dredged from the mud of the Kemi River in Chiba Prefecture in 1951. The seeds were dated to be over 2000 years old, but one of them miraculously bloomed. Later in 1976 this variety of lotus was first transplanted into the pond. There are several hundred of them now.
Near the lotus pond, you’ll find something unique to Akita. In summer there are special ice-cream stands called “Baba-hera.” At these yellow and pink stands, a nice older lady will make you a shaved ice treat. That doesn’t necessarily sound amazing until you see a rose-shaped masterpiece of frozen art.
There are many places to visit within the park and not just the ones mentioned above. There’s the Matsushita Cultural Center, the Satake History Museum, and the Senshu Park store and two restaurants near the Kogetsu Pond near blooming wisteria vines.
The park is tranquil with its many trees and ponds and flowers. Maybe the best thing to do in Senshu Park is simply sitting down on a park bench near a restored castle gate and looking out on distant snow peaked mountains. If you enjoy nature, gardens, and historical sites, there’s nowhere much better to go than Senshu Park in spring and summer.