Guarded by deep moats, over which a red wooden bridge crosses in a picturesque curve, Hirosaki-jo is atop a high stone base. The original castle, completed in 1611, was set ablaze 16 years later by a lightning bolt. The present one, of a smaller scale, dates back to 1810. In spring, the more than 5,000 sōmei-yoshino cherry trees blossom, while in fall the changing maples are even more gorgeous. A snow-lantern festival with illuminated ice sculptures is held in early February. The castle is a 30-minute walk from JR Hirosaki Station. Take the bus from the No. 2 stop and get off at the Shiyakusho-mae stop.