Each year, in the height of summer, Takada Castle Site Park in Joetsu City, Niigata Prefecture, showcases one of the most spectacular floral displays seen in Asia. The 19-hectare outer moat that surrounds the castle ruins is awash in a sea of crimson red and white as Japanese lotus flowers emerge from the depths of the pond and burst into bloom.
Spiritual and enchanting, the lotus flowers of Takada Castle Site date back more than 150 years to 1871, when the ruling Takada family fell into financial difficulties due to war and crop failure. In a bid to raise revenue, a local landowner, Hosaka Sadakichi, planted lotus root for commercial harvest in the castle moat. The lotus thrived, and in 1953 the site was recognised by Ōga Ichiro, a paleobotanist known as ‘Dr Lotus’, as one of the largest-scale lotus ponds in the world, rare in its combination of red and white blooms.
The lotus roots were harvested until 1962, and since the flowers have continued to attract visitors from around the world. In 1983, 12 new species of lotus were donated to the Takada Castle Site Park collection by Professor Kitamura Fumio of the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Tokyo. These can be seen on the north side of the Nishibori Bridge footbridge which spans the outer moat. One of Niigata’s summer highlights, the Joetsu Lotus Festival takes place from the end of July until mid-August.
20 minutes on foot from Takada Station or 1 minute on foot from the Kubikino Bus stop called 'Takada Castle Site Park Entrance'.
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