Tsuyama is a small city north of Okayama surrounded by mountains and famous for its cherry blossom festival. Off the main tourist-tracks it was a quiet place to join the locals gathering in the ruins of Tsuyama Castle for a hanami picnic to enjoy some sakura viewing.
We spent the morning wandering around the castle grounds, admiring the blossoms and planning our return in the evening after we'd explored more of Tsuyama.
After exploring we returned in the late afternoon and found a small corner spot amongst the large blue tarp reservations to see the sun set and the lanterns twinkle on. The blue tarp was soon filled with people arriving after work with small charcoal grills for a bbq style picnic. We loved the little details of the rows of shoes that ended up lining the tarp by the time everyone was settled in.
For our own picnic we bought some food from the stalls including tako (squid on a stick) a little seared wagyu steak for me and a pressed mackerel sushi roll that had pink rice and was shaped to resemble a sakura petal and wrapped in seaweed and bamboo. For sweats we had custard filled carp cakes, a tsunami donut (cherry blossom flavoured) little honey puffs, toffees strawberries and a Tsuyama sakura roll cake that we ate the next day on the train.
After we'd finished our picnic and our sake, the cold spring night was starting to bite so we wandered off leaving the other picnic groups to enjoy the illuminated blossoms.