A day around the beautiful city of Hirosaki, and the Hirosaki Nebuta Festival, Japan
Hirosaki is a very pretty town, only thirty minutes by train from Aomori.
It has many quiet streets with nice guesthouse ryokans and with an old picturesque Castle park, which sits in the heart of the city, like a green lung.
The Hirosaki park has some original remains and a reconstruction of the original Edo Period Castle (built in 1611).
The castle is surrounded with a moat, which is filled with pond lilies and water from the nearby river.
The park is also planted with 2500 old cherry trees, which when in bloom, are a major destination offering poets, nature lovers and art lovers, a most inspiring views of Nature at its glory… As she is dressing up in her pink and glorious dress….
The gnarly old cherry trees, along with some beautifully trimmed trees, offered us a most relaxing afternoon.
At the JR station in Hirosaki we were given an English map of town, along with exact instructions on how to move around town by jumping on the circuit bus.
At the entrance to the park, we bought some apple sherbet from a kimono clad vendor.
It wasn’t that delicious… But it was romantic to stroll the park with an ice cream cone in our hands…. I felt as if we were two small kids looking for new things to see and do…
At the end of the park, we visited the Neputa park museum.
Much like the Nebuta Festival in Aomori, the town of Hirosaki has its own summer festival, running at the exact same dates, and offering also large painted floats.
The only different between the Neputa Festival in Hirosaki, and the Nebuta Festival in Aomori, is that all the floats at the Hirosaki Festival, are shaped like a hand held Japanese Fans.
They still have intricate details and amazing paintings on them, and they are huge in scale and very glorious, and they glow from within, but they are not sculptural.
At the entrance to the museum, we got a private presentation and a demonstration of the music and dance that is performed in the parade.
We were invited to drum on the large “Taiko drums,” and my heart leaped with joy.
The last time I drummed freely, was at a drumming workshop in Taos New Mexico many, many years ago…
The floats from previous festivals looked wonderful and the museum was a very exciting stop for us.
At the end of it, a young women demonstrated to us some of the spinning toys that were used by Japanese kids for hundreds of years. (that is BEFORE the invention of video and electronic games)
Some of them I have never seen before in my life, and they were very exciting to see…. For a toy lover like myself.
When I was a kid, I loved to play with the spinning Dradle toys, but some of the spinning Dradles that the Japanese kids had, performed things that I’ve never saw spinning toys do before….
They rolled on their backs, jumped on top of one another, disconnected parts of themselves like a spaceship preparing to return to earth…..and overall provided me with much unbridled excitement.
At the edge of the Hirosaki park, there is a beautiful old neighborhood, with some traditional Edo Period Samurai houses.
These old houses stood for over four hundred years.
They are made from wood and are covered with thick thatched roofs and most beautiful gardens, in which much attention is given to the directions of the sun and the moon, the position of the entrance to ensure safety and prosperity, and the flowing of water to promote longevity and harmony.
We strolled around this old neighborhood, enjoying the beautiful design, gardens and old homes.
It was getting late in the day, but my map showed that there was an area of town with a cluster of Buddhist, Zen and Shinto temples…. Over thirty of them located in a single area….
I simply HAD to go and see it…
The temples and shrines were moved into this area of Hirosaki, at the Edo period, from all over town and from the surrounding hills.
It was done to provide protection for the old Samurai and for the lords, since no enemy will burn or harm the temples dedicated to the beloved Buddha.
Warring people are often superstitious and they always fear that harm can befall them… Since they do not live with peace-loving minds…
The main street of this Temple neighborhood is most beautiful and it has some magnificent temples located on both sides of the road.
It was densely lined with very tall oak and fir trees, which added to the calm and serenity of the place.
The setting sun painted dramatic elongated shadows of these tall trees, across the road.
I felt so serene and calm walking on this path…. It felt almost like a symbolic walk to me…. A long and beautiful journey among so much beauty and devotion…
I have visited many buddhist temples around the world, and many holy mountains dotted with Zen Temples, but I have not seen a street like this before…
It almost looked and felt like a very elegant, exclusive and posh residential neighborhood…..
But instead of McMansions, dedicated to human’s achievement of appearances and ego…….. populated with people who fear for their privacy and lined with electronic gates and alarm systems,…… this street had only open gate temples, in which you could stroll into the serene and manicured gardens, to enjoy the ponds, the flowing waters, the quiet and the beauty, and you were most welcomed to sit and to pray and to revive your spirit….
If I could live anywhere in Japan, from all the places that I have seen thus far… I would live right here…. Exactly on this street…
But wait a minute…
I Already own a lovely Japanese house in a breathtaking setting on the remote hills of New Zealand………And I am STILL not happy…. Complaining about the wet weather… …And all the hard work and gardening that the place requires…
It is so hard to satisfy the human soul…. It always wants what it does not have…
It always cast its glances on other options….
It always IMAGINE new fantasies that got nothing to do with reality…
I know that this area of Hirosaki Japan, gets very harsh wet and snowy winters………. And this is WITHOUT the conveniences of the fancy ski resort that we enjoy in Vail Colorado…
I guess I still have a lot of inner work to do in looking within myself and finding rest and contentment….NOT in ego’s ideas and earthly dreams…
But for now, something else is on my mind….
I was a bit sick with a relapse of the flu, when we started the day, and now I felt tired from a long day of walking on my feet.
Now, I prayed for a Taxi to take us back to the Hirosaki JR train station, where we could catch a train to Aomori…. I wanted to eat a good warm meal, take a hot shower and crash into bed…
But in all this long walk that we did into the street of over thirty temples, I have seen only one taxi leave over an hour ago….
I need your help now…
My legs can carry me no more…
Dear Buddha, I need your help now…
What it is I am seeing?…..
Is it a taxi approaching at the distance?…..
Is this a trick of my eyes… Or pure magic?
Do you really just have to ask for help and you’ll get it almost Instantaneously?
It Can’t be….
Maybe somebody called for a taxi… Maybe this taxi is spoken for…
We simply cannot be this lucky…
But I raised my hand anyway to the taxi with hopefulness in my heart,…….and the taxi driver speeded up to me, turned around and presses a button which opened the taxi’s door.
He smiled at me and said in Japanese: “Good Evening, where can I take you?”
I tell you…
It is Heaven on earth!
Thank you Buddha, thank you Jesus, thank you Hirosaki for a great day!