April 11: Cherry blossoms viewing in my mother land
by Mie
In the evening of April 10, we got aboard a ferry boat "Diamond Ferry" that connects Oita and Kobe city.
When I awoke in the morning next day, the boat was passing just under Akashi Bridge. The sun smiled at us promising something good today.

We drove back from Kobe port to Tatsuno city in which my old parents live. the weather turned to wonderful clear sky in the noon. As my parents go to voting, we walked out together with them. Tatsuno city around this area well preserves an atmosphere of old castle town (left.) The white wall on the left is a part of the elementary school I graduated. The polling station is in the gymnasium of the school. On the right is a white building of the class rooms. In the end of the street is a corner turret of Tatsuno castle behind the cherry blossoms. We came up to the Castle Park, some several minutes from home on foot.
In this area, there had once been Tatsuno middle school and Tatsuno girl's high school from which my mother graduated in the site. In Edo era, there was a castle of the feudal lord. In 1979, the castle was restored. My father takes a picture at the monument of the old schools.

The cherry blossoms are probably in their best today. Many viewers are enjoying the beautiful flowers. It seems that a photo contest was held here, and many people are carrying big cameras with them. There are many white Somei-Yoshino cherry blossoms (left), and pink weeping cherry flowers that attract the visitors' eyes.
A corner turret is surrounded with beautiful Somei-Yoshinos.
The entrance of the main building of the Castle. The first castle was built on the top of Keirou peak in Muromachi period (late 15th century.) It was destroyed by many civil wars since then. In Edo period, When the Castle was rebuilt in Edo period, Japan had already been a peaceful country. The domain of Tatsuno was an "outside" feudal lord, who was not a hereditary vassal of the Tokugawa family. There was already no need to construct a castle other than a peaceful one like this.
The inside of the Castle. This is the lord's seat. It is said that behind the sliding door on the right were hidden bodyguards ready to dash out with weapons in hands.
There is a Japanese garden in front of the Castle. There are no noisy cherry-blossom viewers in drunk. People quietly enjoy beautiful flowers under the blue clear sky.

This is the entrance slope to the main building of the Castle. On the white wall are many gun-windows in various shapes that remind me of a modern sculpture. A distant building on the remote hill is a public hotel; of "Red dragonfly."
This is the main gate called "Interlocked Gate", flocked by high stone walls on both sides. I recall my pleasant junior high school days when I climbed up the wall to make a short-cut so as not to be late to the class.
I also visited nearby Tatsuno Park which is sometimes called "small Kyoto" to view the cherry blossoms. There stand many lanterns on the both side of the trail lined with cherry trees. So many people are enjoying the flowers.
This is a tea room called "Shuen-Tei." The room was a present from Komei Emperor to then lord Wakisaka, and brought over from Kyoto. It is built on a pond whose shape resembles to a Japanese character of "heart." People can enjoy the wonderful perspective view of the Seto Inland sea dotted with many islands including Awaji island. around the tea room are a couple of weeping cherries, providing a good taking picture spot.

We didn't have any chance to go out for cherry blossom viewing in Oita, but here in my birth place, I could unexpectedly enjoy a quiet and wonderful cherry blossom viewing with my aging parents. I feel very happy today.

The location of Tatsuno Park and people's hotel "Red dragonfly" is in Tatsuno city, Hyougo prefecture, Japan.