Most places look at their best early in the morning and Hikone castle was no exception. Set on a hill overlooking Biwa-ko, Japan’s largest lake, designated as a National Treasure, it has a stately presence and retains the look and feel of the Edo period. Visiting in April, meant cherry blossom added to its appeal for visitors and thankfully we were ahead of the crowds. A climb to the top gave a clear view over the lake (there is not a lot to see in the interior).
Kites soared above us as we made our way round by the moat to the Genkyu-en garden. Built in 1677, the garden is modelled on the ancient Chinese palace of Tang Dynasty emperor Genso. The pond is meant to resemble Biwa-ko lake in miniature. There is a tiny teahouse where the Ii family who built Hikone castle entertained. We sat under a red parasol to enjoy foaming green tea and jelly like cake and wonderful views of the garden, before admiring more cherry blossom round the moat as we left, including a large ball of mistletoe amongst it!