Tsuruga Castle (鶴ケ城) is the reconstruction of an Edo period Tokugawa Shogunate castle. It was known as the impregnable castle and stood until the beginning of the Meiji period (1868). It was besieged and largely destroyed by the new government of the time but reconstructed in 1965.
Located in Aizu, Fukushima in the Tohoku region
Also known as the Aizu-Wakamatsu castle (会津若松城), the place which is surrounded by a beautiful park with lots of sakura (cherry blossoms) trees is one of the main points of interest in Fukushima Prefecture and the Tohoku region.
How to get there
From Tokyo, the easiest and quickest way to get there is by taking a JR Tohoku Shinkansen to the Koriyama Station. You then transfer to the JR Banetsu-sai line to take a regular train and get off at the Aizu-Wakamatsu station. The total cost is about ¥9,000 and is covered entirely by the Japan Rail Pass. The duration is about 3 hours.
If you are travelling throughout Japan and stopping at the beautiful historic town of Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture, then you could make the Tsuruga Castle your next stop, as there is a direct connection between the two towns by a local train (takes about 2.5 to 3 hours and costs ¥3,280). This connection is not covered by the JR Pass, however.
Prices and hours
The castle is open from 8:30 to 5 PM and the admission is ¥410. The view from the observatory at the top of the castle is quite impressive.
Seeing the Sakura of Tsuruga Castle
The sakura season is arguably the best time to see the castle because there are approximately 1000 cherry blossom trees in the surrounding park. The cherry blossom season there is a little later than in the capital, occurring usually from mid to late April. It's a popular spot to do hanami among Japanese people and tourists alike.
The Rinkaku Teahouse (茶室麟閣) is located within the premises of the castle. The historic tea house has been preserved throughout its long history and is now considered an important cultural asset of Fukushima. You can have tea there while looking at the traditional Japanese garden.
Admission to the teahouse is ¥200 and another ¥500 for a matcha tea and a traditional snack.
The Tsuruga Castle in Aizu is a great spot to visit in Fukushima Prefecture! It's quite arguably one of the most beautiful castles in Japan, with its impressive surrounding garden.