We went to Okazaki to view the hanami festivities.  There were lots of activities going on ... groups demonstrating  choreographed dance to Japanese music, boxing, samari battle reinactments, Japanese bowmen demonstrations, food, fun, and miscellaneous entertainment.

We also we Okazaki Castle which is in the middle of it all.  Okazaki Castle (岡崎城, Okazaki-jō), although not the same castle as was originally built, nor in the same place, nevertheless has a long history dating back to 1455, when it was built by warrior Saigo Tsugiyori.  Recent research suggests that the original castle was built in the Myodaiji (明大寺) area of Okazaki, and was probably nothing more than a mere wooden fort. Matsudaira Kiyoyasu captured the castle in 1524, and in 1543 his grandson, Tokugawa Ieyasu, would be born there.

The castle stood tall until 1873 when, during the Meiji Restoration, the feudal system was abolished and all castle-buildings were ordered demolished.  Okazaki Castle was reconstructed to its original style and specifications in 1959.  The area around the castle is now a park, and boasts several historical curiosities, including a bronze statue of Tokugawa Ieyasu.  The park is also home to the Iyeyasu and Mikawa Bushi Museum, teahouses, a Noh theater, a small clock tower with traditional karakuri puppets, and an impressive main gate.  The park is also renowned as a famous site for viewing cherry blossoms, wisterias and azaleas.

A beautiful day with beautiful scenary!

This little boy was determined to get him a pigeon!

A big party!

Koi in the river next to the bridge.

Lots of food, slightly different than food stands in the U.S., you can get some squid, octopus, chicken on a stick, a potato, fried pasta ...

It was so beautiful just being under a canopy of cherry blossoms.

A statue of a horse in front of Okazaki Castle.

Some information on Okazaki Castle.

... and the castle.

The original dolphins on top of the original Okazaki Castle, or at least I think!

Okazaki is well known for fireworks and their firework festivals in the summer!

A view from the top level of Okazaki Castle.

Just can't say enough about the beauty of the cherry blossoms when in full bloom.

A model of the original Okazaki Castle and surrounding areas.

A very red tree, you normally see colors like this in the Fall.

The outer wall of the castle grounds.

Some of the performances by different groups ... notice there are men, women, children ... everyone is involved! And all of them are good!

The red bridge we crossed to get to the castle and leave the castle!

Nothing like some squid on a stick!

And what any good festival can't do without ... some amateur boxing! Actually we had never seen this before, but found it rather amusing.

Ashley trying to pick out which bag of cotton candy she wants.

The end of a samurai demonstation on the opposite side of the river.

Some more people doing a reinactment of some sort ...

it looks like we are gonna see some archers!

Ashley is excited about her cotton candy.

Not just archers ... archers on horses!

Check out the videos we took with Ashley's camera below!

Videos of archers missing their marks:

Videos of archers hitting their marks: