The castle is one of Japan’s top cherry blossom destinations, and these photos show why.

By the time May rolls around, the Tokyo area has pretty much forgotten about the sakura. Cherry blossoms in and around the capital usually bloom in late March or early April and stick around for about a week, so when the Golden Week vacation period kicks off at the end of April, no one is going out in Tokyo to look at Japan’s favorite flowers.

But it’s a different story up in the northern Tohoku region, where cooler temperatures shift the hanami, or cherry blossom-viewing, calendar back a few weeks. For example, when Japanese Twitter user Yukinori Hasumi (@833__3) headed out in the town of Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture the other day, his sakura timing couldn’t have been better.

Hirosaki, and specifically the moat surrounding Hirosaki Castle, is one of the most breathtaking spots for cherry blossom-viewing, not just in Tohoku, but all of Japan. Cherry trees line both sides of the castle moat, and the blue skies during Hasumi’s visit made for a striking contrast with the pink flowers.

Even in Tohoku, though, the cherry blossom season eventually has to come to and end, but even that’s something to look forward to. The petals of Japan’s sakura tress gently drop off one by one, and as they flutter down to the waters of Hirosaki Castle’s moat, they float on the surface, making it look like the grounds are encircled by a broad carpet of blossoms.

Called hanakaida, literally “flower raft,” the phenomenon is captivatingly beautiful to look at from the banks of the waterway, although we can’t help but feel a little jealous of these ducks that get a 360-degree view.

▼ Yes, we’re jealous of ducks. That’s how awesome sakura are.

It won’t be long until even these petals drift away, but at least we have Hasumi’s amazing photography to tide us over until next spring…or winter, should Hirosaki Castle’s “mid-winter sakura” appear again this year.

Source: Twitter/@ 833__3 via IT Media
Images: Twitter/@833__3
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s sad to see the sakura go, but also already hyped for Japan’s summertime fireworks festivals.