The little samurai town of Kakunodate, sometimes called "Little Kyoto," was founded in 1620 by Yoshikatsu Ashina, the local lord, who chose it for its defensible position and reliable water sources. An outpost of traditional Japan, Kakunodate is consistently regarded as one of the very best places for seeing cherry blossoms in spring. The whole town is full of shidare-zakura (weeping cherry trees), descended from the same trees that adorn Kyoto, and their pink flowers grace the dark-wood gates, walls, and roofs of ancient samurai houses. Along the banks of Hinokinai-gawa (Hinokinai River), these living jewel factories dangle a mile-long pink curtain. The town is also home to several samurai and merchant houses with eclectic collections of family treasures, many not at all crowded with visitors. From September 7 to 9, a loud town festival involving floats, drums, and dancing takes place here.
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