20 Sep 2015

If you are planning a trip to Fukushima, then be sure to check out some of these incredible castles. You can enjoy a drink at a restored tea house, view cherry blossoms in spring, and see a castle blanketed by snow during the winter. So, why not add one of these amazing castles to your travel itinerary:

Kasumi-ga-jo Castle 

3 Amazing Fukushima Castles

(image by upload.wikimedia.org)

The ruins of Kasumi-ga-jo are structures that have a variety of attractions. The Minowa tower gate that had been made from a sacred tree on a mountain in Minowa Village within the current Nihonmatsu City was burned down during the events of the Bonin War, but was restored in 1982. Also, there are historically significant structures such as a statue of the Nihonmatsu Youth Corps who had given their lives during the Bonin War, and the national Historic Site of the Kaisekimei inscription stone with its guiding principles for shogunate administrative reform that tell of the history of Nihonmatsu Castle. Furthermore, Senshintei, which has been designated by the city as a Tangible Cultural Property, is one of the surviving tea houses within the castle that was broken down, rebuilt and then transferred to its current location. There is also Niwa Shrine which is dedicated to generations of feudal lords belonging to the Niwa clan, and a monument honoring the soldiers at a site that had been used for rifle training right up until the Bonin War. Then, the remains of the honmaru (inner citadel), which are designated nationally as a Historic Site as part of the Nihonmatsu Castle ruins, were beautifully created in detail through the work of an excellent group of masons. Afterwards, the descendants of those masons came to restore the structures which have retained their original beauty. As well, remains of stone walls whose design and scars showed how important it was to protect the castle in battle and monuments dedicated to the historic figures can also be seen.

The ruins of Nihonmatsu Castle are also known as a prime site for cherry blossoms. Spring is especially recommended since the area is surrounded with blossoms within the park. Also, lovely flowers such as wisteria, iris, and hydrangea bloom all throughout the year. The fall colors are also a sight to see, so please feel free to take that stroll through lush nature in the park. Waterfalls are also located in various places so that a visit will always be calming.

Admission: Free

Guidebook from Planetyze about Kasumi-ga-jo Castle 
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Kasumi-ga-jo Castle 
Tours of Kasumi-ga-jo Castle 

Tsuruga Castle

3 Amazing Fukushima Castles

(image by city.aizuwakamatsu.fukushima.jp)

Tsuruga Castle has been nationally designated as a Historic Site. It was a robust structure that had endured withering attack for a month during the Boshin War, but was finally demolished with only the stone walls remaining. Originally completed in 1384, it was a famous castle whose name spread out throughout the nation. Thanks to the contributions of many people including local residents, the castle keep was restored in red brick and its appearance from the end of the Edo Era was revived. The keep has become a museum centering upon the samurai culture of Aizu.

The restored tea room Rinkaku in Tsuruga Castle has been prefecturally designated as an Important Cultural Property. Visiting tourists can enjoy a cup of tea in the room, which at times also holds tea ceremonies. It is said to have been built by Shoan, the child of Sen-no-Rikyu who was famous for the Japanese tea ceremony, and there you can spend a leisurely time within the lushness of nature. The Soan-style tea room, which was considered distinctive even in eastern Japan, was preserved at the bottom of the castle following the Bonin War, but in 1990, it was returned to its original place in Tsuruga Castle.

Admission: Adult: ¥ 410 / Child: ¥ 150

Guidebook from Planetyze about Tsuruga Castle
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Tsuruga Castle
Tours of Tsuruga Castle

Shirakawa Komine Castle

3 Amazing Fukushima Castles

(image by upload.wikimedia.org)

Shirakawa Komine Castle, which was famous for being the gateway to the Oshu domain, was a flatland mountain castle which was completed in 1632 in the Edo Era after being first built by Chikatomo Yuki in Kominegaoka. Although it was burned down during the Bonin War in 1868, the 3-story keep was restored in 1991 as was the case for the main gate in 1994, and since then it has become a symbol for the city of Shirakawa. No matter how you look at it, the castle’s grand stone walls have become the highlight. At the back of the walls, the keep and the gate can be observed so that the designs and efforts used in protecting the castle during war can be glimpsed. On climbing the stone steps and emerging at the honmaru inner citadel, there is also a slightly elevated observation point to get a panoramic view of the city. The three-story keep can also be entered. The old trees that were used in the reconstruction of the keep are cedar trees which were located in the areas of the worst fighting during the Bonin War. Several bullet holes remain in those trees, so that you can understand the harshness of the battlefield at the time. The interior of the keep that has been restored to its original appearance down to the last detail can be observed while thinking about the history of the end of the shogunate system. At the castle park, there is Shirakawa Shuko-en which displays information on the Yuki and Abe clans, and the Ninomaru Tea House where souvenirs can be purchased. Shirakawa Komine Castle suffered serious damage in the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and for a long while it was closed to the public due to restoration efforts, but from 2015, it was reopened. However, as of July 2015, it was still undergoing partial construction.

Sadanobu Matsudaira, the 12th daimyo of the Shirakawa clan, built a garden from a wetland area in which one part of it, Nanko Park, was nationally selected as a historic spot of natural beauty. Beautiful scenery for all four seasons has been created from pine, maple and cherry trees. Shirakawa Gate which is one of the Three Old Gates of the Oshu is also famous. Poets such as Matsuo Basho have often included the place into their poetry.

Admission: Free

Guidebook from Planetyze about Shirakawa Komine Castle
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Shirakawa Komine Castle
Tours of Shirakawa Komine Castle

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