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On April 6, we took YonYon’s video at Takato Castle Site Park in Ina City, Nagano Prefecture, known as one of the three most famous Cherry blossom (Sakura) viewing spots in Japan, while the Sakura were in full bloom.

The Chuo Expressway splits off from the Nagano Expressway at the end of Suwa Lake, and Ina City is located a little further down the road in the direction of Nagoya. Ina City is located on the plains along the Tenryu River, sandwiched between the Central Alps to the west and the Southern Alps to the east.
Heading from Tokyo, the scenery changes from the mountainous road on the Chuo Expressway that we had been on, and the scenery is quite peaceful. In fact, Ina City, surrounded by high mountains on both sides, has a mild climate and relatively few bad weather days throughout the year.

Located at the foot of the Southern Alps, Takato Castle in Ina City is a national historic site and one of the 100 best castles in Japan. It is famous as the castle of the Takeda family, a feudal lord in the Sengoku period. The castle was demolished in 1871 when the feudal domain was abolished, and became a park in 1875.
In spring, the 1,500 endemic species called Takato Kohigan Cherry Trees that were included in the video flourish, and on a sunny day, you can see a beautiful collaboration with the peaks of the Central Alps, which are still white with snow.

The planning for this shoot started in March.

We had been discussing for some time that we would like to shoot Sakuras, and we had been researching famous Sakura spots and sightseeing spots. Takato Castle Site Park, which was on the top of the list of best Sakura spots, caught our attention, and we immediately called the Takato Commerce and Tourism Division. Then, they received our request very favorably and gave us permission to shoot.

Once the location is decided, the next step is to choose a DJ.
When we started to choose a DJ, we came up with the idea that we wanted to shoot a collaboration between a female DJ and Sakuras. So, we asked starRo, a world-famous music producer who had previously appeared on “Zekkei × Music”, to introduce us to YonYon.
After she agreed to perform, we asked YonYon to come to our office for a meeting. She told us about her background and recent projects. We talked a lot about what we would like to do in the future.
The meeting ended when we had finished the general discussion.
Later, we had an idea that a combination of Sakuras and kimono would be wonderful! We asked YonYon if she would be okay with us playing in a kimono, and she said yes, and we proceeded to arrange the kimono at a rapid pace.

In fact, it was already two weeks before the shoot. I was nervous about whether I would be able to arrange the first kimono and hair/makeup staff who could dress her in time. It was hard to find someone who could handle the three days of shooting schedule, and I remembered now that my heart rate was always high, as I had to make a scented board, arrange accommodation and cars…lol

There is one more concern. We had planned the shooting schedule with the person in charge of the Takato Commerce and Tourism Division by referring to the information on the blooming of Sakura in previous years, and we had estimated that the Sakura would be in full bloom after the second week of April. Oh no! What if the Sakura fall, even though we were going to be able to shoot in the best location? Furthermore, the weather forecast for the day before the shoot turned out to be rainy, and the forecast for the day of the shoot was cloudy with a high probability of precipitation…

Now, it’s departure day.

Unfortunately, it was raining in Tokyo. All the staff gathered at the office in Ebisu, loaded their luggage, and left in the car.
Actually, there was another mishap here: one of the equipment cars got on the wrong highway, and then took a wrong turn lol They tried their best, but they couldn’t catch up with the other car… It’s not easy to get back on the wrong way on the highway, so you get impatient.
It took us less than four hours, with breaks along the way. Finally, we arrived at Takato Castle Site Park! (The equipment car arrived safely after a delay of less than an hour.) It’s not quite sunny here, but it’s fine!
Oh, thank God! I breathed a sigh of relief.

Photo by Yoshiaki Hirokawa

All the staff started location hunting immediately. The sakura were in full bloom, which had not been in bloom when we came here for location scouting before, and the Sakura Festival was in full swing, so we enjoyed the festive atmosphere we hadn’t felt in a while. As a precaution against Corona, fill in your address and contact information to enter.
We had already decided where to set up the booth, but when we checked again, we found a place where the Sakuras were more beautiful. So, we quickly changed the location of the DJ booth there.

Then we went on location hunting for locations for additional footage to be inserted. The Yakushido weeping Sakura trees were in full bloom, and the Sakura trees along the Mibugawa River were also in full bloom, so we didn’t have to worry about Sakuras at all.
After location scouting, we checked into the hotel and went to bed after a quick meeting since the next day was early.

The day of the shooting.

Preparations for the shoot started at 2 am. YonYon prepares even earlier because she has to do hair, makeup, and dressing for the kimono.
We arrived at the site around 2:30 a.m., and started setting up. It was late at night, and there were no lights on, so we started setting up with professional lights. We hadn’t really looked at the weather forecast, so the temperature was -1℃ at the time. We didn’t expect the temperature to drop so low, and we were wearing light clothes because we had the image that it would be warm enough for the Sakuras to bloom early… It was so cold that we couldn’t feel the warmth of the pocket warmers we had prepared, and our hands were so numb that we had a hard time setting up the DJ booth and carrying the equipment around! …But instead, we were working under a starry sky, shining in the pitch black cold.

We are very grateful to the park staff for being there early in the morning and for their kindness in turning on the heat in the waiting room for the artists.
After the preparations were completed smoothly, the sun came up and we started shooting around 6:00. With the Sakuras fluttering in the air, YonYon’s DJ performance was beautiful. We hid in the shadows to avoid being seen, but we were very excited behind the scenes.
Towards the end of the shoot, it was time for one more take. By this time, it was time for the park to open, and visitors were gradually arriving to see the Sakuras. With the help of the park and visitors, we were able to finish the shooting here.

Photo by Yoshiaki Hirokawa

YonYon went back to the hotel for a costume change. After that, the staff cleaned up the area and went to the next shooting spot, Yakushido weeping Sakura trees. There were no restrictions on entry, so we took advantage of any free moment to take shots without disturbing the people who were coming to take pictures.
But it really is a beautiful day with almost no clouds. The weeping Sakura trees swaying on the hills overlooking the tranquil countryside have a fantastic presence. I’m so jealous of Takato Castle Town, to be able to enjoy so many different kinds of beautiful Sakuras all at once!
In fact, the blooming time of the Sakura trees in Takato Joshi Park is slightly different from that of the Yakushido weeping Sakura trees. We were lucky that the Sakuras were in full bloom so early that they started to fall just in time, and as a result, both Sakuras were very beautiful.

Yakushido weeping sakura
Mibugawa River Rest Park
Photo by Yoshiaki Hirokawa

After taking a video of the weeping Sakura trees at Yakushido, we went to the bank of the Mibugawa River. About 200 Someiyoshino Sakura trees lined up along the 3km-long bank. From here, we could also see the snow-covered Chuo Alps in the distance. This view is also breathtaking from the drone’s perspective.
Here’s all up for this shoot! The time was 12:30 a.m. Even though it was still early in the day, it was a long day of work that started early in the morning (late at night).

We decided to have lunch together and looked for a soba (buckwheat noodle) restaurant because Takato is famous for soba. After calling many restaurants, we visited Kakuhachi, which was close to Ina-kita station and was just open. The restaurant has a cozy atmosphere and is said to be a long-established soba noodle shop loved by the locals.

After lunch, we went back to the hotel to organize our luggage, and then all but the photography team left the hotel around 4:00 p.m. to head home.
We are always blessed with beautiful weather for our shoots, and this time we were blessed again with good weather and Sakuras, and we were able to finish shooting some very nice videos.

The release of this video is a little later than planned, but I hope you enjoy the beautiful Sakuras in Takato Castle Town, accompanied by YonYon’s light and flowing DJ set.
I hope that next year, when Corona is settled down, you will be able to visit and enjoy this scenery in person.

References (only Japanese)

伊那市公式HP(Ina City Official HP):http://www.inacity.jp/shisetsu/koenshisetsu/takatojoshikoen.html
日本百名城ガイド(Japan 100 fine castles guide):https://www.100finecastles.com/castles/takatojo/
伊那市観光協会(Ina City Tourism Association):https://www.inadanikankou.jp/


Takato Castle Site Park

Address: Higashi-Takato, Takato-cho, Ina City, Nagano Prefecture
(By car) Get off at the Suwa IC on the Chuo Expressway and proceed in the direction of Route 20 toward Suwa/Chino. Then turn onto Route 152 and go in the direction of the Ina/Takato sign.
Parking : Available. Charged during the Sakura festival.
(By train) Take a bus from Ina Kita Station to Takato Station. From there it is a 15-minute walk.

Katsuma Yakushido weeping Sakura tree

Address: Katsuma, Takato-cho, Ina City, Nagano Prefecture
A 15-minute walk from Takato Joshi Park. On a hillside after passing through private houses.
Parking: Parking is available at Horidei Park. 8 minutes walk from the parking lot.

Mibugawa Rest Park ( Cycling Road )

Address: Misuzu, Ina City, Nagano Prefecture (on the bank of the Mibugawa River)
On the way to Takato from Oguro River SIC/Ina IC. 15 minutes drive from the IC.
Parking: 8 cars at Mibugawa Rest Park.


Photo by Yoshiaki Hirokawa

Address: 1918-1, Hachiman, Yamadera, Ina City
2 minutes walk from JR Ina-kita Station toward Ina-shi Station.
Parking: There is a municipal parking lot across from the restaurant, free for one hour.

The places in the video.


Address: 2007 Higashi-Takato, Takato-cho, Ina City
Near the main gate of Takato Castle Site Park.
Parking: Use the parking lot of Takato Castle Site Park.


It was respected as the family temple of Takeda Katsuyori and the Hoshina clan, lords of the Takato domain. The temple is also famous for its stone Buddhist statues, many of which are the work of Sadaji Moriya, a particularly outstanding Takato-ishiku (stone Buddhist sculptor).
Address: 1824 Nishi-Takato, Takato-cho, Ina City
(By car) 15km 30min from Ina IC
Parking lot: 10 cars available
(By bus) 25 minutes by bus from JR Iida Line Ina-shi Station

Hokoji Shrine

The shrine was originally located in another place, but when it was moved to this place, a spear came out of the shrine ground, which is why it was named Hokoji Shrine.
Currently, a traditional event called “Takato Daruma Market” is held on New Year’s Day of the lunar calendar. This is a festival to pray for a good harvest and success in school, and there is a long line of people waiting to buy Fukudaruma dolls and amulets.
Address: 1600 Nishi-Takato, Takato-cho, Ina City
(By car) 15km 30min from Ina IC
Parking lot: 5 cars available
(By bus) 25 minutes by bus from JR Iida Line Ina-shi Station

TEXT : THAT IS GOOD editorial department, Ikegami