The perfect 1-day Hirosaki itinerary: Japan’s best hidden gem

After exploring Tokyo, Kyoto, and the other major destinations, it’s worth venturing into lesser-visited corners of Japan. Why not start with Hirosaki? It might not be on your radar for your Japan holiday, but it definitely should be. As soon as we arrived in this charming castle town, we fell in love. Famous for its spectacular cherry blossoms, Hirosaki offers a peaceful and less crowded alternative to bustling cities. We actually recommend visiting outside of cherry blossom season when the town is quieter and almost tourist-free. Discover the highlights of this beautiful place in our perfect 1-day Hirosaki itinerary.

Short on time? Here are our top picks for the best hotels in Hirosaki:

Start your day at Hirosaki Park

The perfect 1-day Hirosaki itinerary: Hirosaki Park

Hirosaki Park is one of the best places in Japan for cherry blossom viewing, but it’s worth a visit any time of year! The park is home to the beautiful Hirosaki Castle, one of the few Japanese castles that hasn’t been rebuilt in the modern era.

Another great spot in Hirosaki Park is the Hirosaki Castle Botanical Garden. The entrance fee is 320 yen, about € 2, and it’s well worth it. You’ll find countless beautiful flowers, a stunning view of Hirosaki Castle, and amazing views of Mount Iwaki. We spent two hours here, soaking in the serene nature whilst sitting on one of the garden’s many cute little benches.

Visit Tsugaru-han Neputa Village

The perfect 1-day Hirosaki itinerary: Tsugaru-han Neputa Village

Just a 5-minute walk from Hirosaki Park you can find Tsugaru-han Neputa Village. Hirosaki is known for the Tsugaru-jamisen, both a traditional instrument and genre of music. At Tsugaru-han Neputa Village, you can watch live Tsugaru-shamisen performances. You can also admire decorated lanterns, watch local artisans at work, buy souvenirs, and even make traditional folk crafts in the workshop. There’s plenty to keep you busy! The entrance fee is 600 yen, about € 3,50. The performances can be viewed throughout the day, and run from 9 AM to 5 PM (4:10 PM between December and March).

Pro tip
As you exit the main hall, you’ll come across a hallway with a window offering a stunning view of the courtyard. You can open the window to snap a photo of the beautiful courtyard with the majestic Mount Iwaki in the background. It’s truly magical!

Visit Saishoin Temple

The perfect 1-day Hirosaki itinerary: Saishoin Temple

Next on the list is Saishoin Temple, about a half-hour walk from Tsugaru-han Neputa Village. This stunning five-storied pagoda is one of the most peaceful temples we saw in Japan, and we visited many! We loved strolling around the temple grounds, especially since we were the only ones there! It’s off-the-beaten-track and completely free, just how we like it. 

End your day at Bar Tsushi

Bar Tsushi Hirosaki

The best way to end this perfect 1-day Hirosaki itinerary is at Bar Tsushi, just 10 minutes from Saishoin Temple. We originally tried to dine at another restaurant, but they turned us away because we didn’t speak Japanese. They didn’t want us there, even though we offered to use Google Translate. It left us a bit hesitant to try other places, but then we found Bar Tsushi. It isn’t a typical restaurant, so we decided to stop by for drinks. To our surprise, they also served food, and it was fantastic! The salmon and scallop carpaccio and the cheese board were delicious. We loved the intimate atmosphere and the chance to mingle with locals, making it a truly authentic experience. The food can be best described as Japanese cuisine with a Western twist. 😉 Who says you always have to eat sushi when in Japan!

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