Japan has some of the most beautiful urban parks in the world, and in Tohoku the one in Hirosaki is perhaps the most beautiful. There are many attractions, but in this article I will talk about the rivers and ponds that run through it, breaking and refracting its greenery.

Hirosaki Park is lush with water. The Tsuchibuchi River creates a humid environment, which benefits a wealth of flora and fauna. First of all, the ‘Sakura’, the cherry trees: 2,600 trees of different varieties, such as Somei, Yoshino, Yamazakura and Shidarezakura, similar to a weeping willow studded with pink corollas. Then there are maples, pines, azaleas, peonies and irises, as well as aquatic plants: ponds such as Hyōtan, with its curious gourd shape, are home to water lilies and lotuses, which in spring seem to float on a carpet of cherry blossom. Here they hunt herons, remaining motionless for long periods, waiting for a
fish to approach without noticing them. Their mise-en-scene is so effective that you can hear comments such as “ikimono mitai”, “it looks real!
They are real, yet so perfectly still that they look like beautiful, little statues.

Walking along the waterways you can also see ducks, tits and other birds, while the most popular fish are the koi carp. Seeing them for the first time is astonishing: they can be more than a metre long and are
covered with authentic patterns, natural works of art in red, white, yellow, orange or blue. Their beauty has made them an important part of Japanese art and folklore. For example, on 8 May, Children’s Day, you can see them reproduced in the flags that fly around the city. Why is that?
According to a legend of Chinese origin, every year carps try to climb up the Lungmen River to its mountain springs. Only one succeeds and it turns into a dragon: hence, the carp is a symbol of perseverance and prosperity, a sign of good luck.

In each season, the rivers and ponds take on different colours: in autumn, the red of the leaves; in winter, a layer of ice; in spring, pink flower petals. But the park is also beautiful in late spring and summer, when
the perfectly clear water mirrors the pines and the sky. This is the best time to hire a rowboat and explore the park from a different perspective, passing under the traditional red bridges that connect the park areas.
Those are the many ways to enjoy nature in this corner of northern Japan.

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