Sakura Castle is a park built on the ruins of the old Sakura Castle. It is pretty easy to get to Sakura city as it is on both the JR Sobu Line and the Keisei Main Line at Sakura Station. The castle is somewhat in between the Kesei and JR Lines and relatively easy to find from both stations. It is a 20 minute walk from JR Sakura and about 15 minutes from Kesei Sakura, but it is probably easier to get there from the Keisei Line as there is a hill between the JR Sakura Station and the castle grounds. The JR Sakura Station route is less direct if you are afraid of hills, otherwise you’d have to go over the small hill to access the castle grounds.
Sakura Castle is part of the top 100 castles of Japan. Many people wonder why it is part of the top 100 but that is a different story for another day. The castle grounds can be split up into 3 sections: northern, eastern, and western. The northern section is where the National Museum of Japanese History is located. I didn’t have a chance to take a look at the museum as the number of screaming kids made us run away, but I did see the museum from a distance.
The eastern section is where the main approach to the castle grounds are and also the closest section to both JR and Keisei Sakura Stations. These grounds hold the Botanical Garden for Everyday Life, a large parking lot, and the outer sections of the fortified castle grounds. If you come to Sakura Castle looking for a nice castle, you are in for a big letdown. There are no buildings left on the site and you mainly get to see the remains of the dirt mounds and what is left of the moat that has dried up. The eastern section has the best images of the dried up moat and there is a nice pond, Ubaga Pond. The pond is a good place to see irises when they are blooming.
The western section of Sakura Castle is where the picnic action happens. It is one of the main locations for cherry blossoms in Sakura, but we were a couple months too late. It is a nice lush green space and you can enjoy looking at the trees from all directions from the central area where the original keep was. If I lived in Sakura City, I would love to have lunch here, especially during the cherry blossom season. Unfortunately a lot of families also feel the same and unless you love the sound of happy screaming kids, it may not be a place for you. I was happy that the kids were having fun, but if I wanted to just lie down and relax, it wasn’t the place to be.
Sakura Castle grounds are a great place to visit but I don’t know if it is worth a trip from Tokyo. If you want to spend a relaxing day checking out the old samurai houses near the castle grounds as well as the park, you can do so. If you plan to enjoy the cherry blossoms, it is probably a good idea as there are many cherry trees in the park. I would really love to see this area when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom but with my luck I probably won’t be able to. In general, there are a lot of other great places to visit besides the Sakura Castle grounds but if you have time and want to see something new, it is still a good place to visit.