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Maruoka Castle

One of the most famous places in Fukui Prefecture is Maruoka Castle, and it just so happens to also be one of the top 100 castles in Japan. In this article, we’re introducing everything you need to know to enjoy sightseeing here, including the castle’s history, highlights, and nearby sightseeing spots.

Maruoka Castle – The Castle That Saw a Miraculous Restoration

When Was Maruoka Castle Built?

Maruoka Castle was built in 1576 by Katsutoyo Shibata, a nephew of the general Katsuie Shibata, by order of Nobunaga Oda as a guard against the Ikko Ikki rebels. Now, over 400 years since its construction, it has become a proud symbol of Fukui Prefecture’s historical heritage. Today, this magnificent hill stands on a small 17-meter-high hill, but did you know that it was once completely destroyed, stone walls and all, in the 1948 Fukui Earthquake?

Maruoka Castle’s Restoration After the Fukui Earthquake

Maruoka Castle’s castle keep was actually destroyed in the earthquake. However, by reusing more than 70% of its original components such as the pillars and beams, it was able to be restored in 1955. The castle was so badly damaged that many thought they wouldn’t be able to repair it, but thanks to the passionate wishes of the locals and donations from all over the country, they managed to restore it. We hope you will come and see for yourself how Maruoka Castle managed to overcome the possibility of permanent destruction.
Sakai City Official Website: How the Maruoka Castle Keep Miraculously Avoided Permanent Destruction

About the People Associated With Maruoka Castle – The Shibata, Honda, and Arima Families

The three families that you’ll no doubt hear of whenever Maruoka Castle is brought up are the Shibata, Honda, and Arima families. Katsutoyo Shibata was the person who built Maruoka Castle, while Narishige Honda became the first lord of the Maruoka Domain, devoting himself to the development of the surrounding castle town. Kiyozumi Arima was the man who took over the Maruoka Domain after the Honda family.

The Only Original Castle Keep in the Hokuriku Region!

What Do We Mean By “Original Castle Keep”?

This refers to Japanese castle keeps that were constructed before and up to the Edo period and still exist today. There are now only twelve of them across all of Japan, and out of all of them, the only one that was able to be restored after complete destruction from an earthquake is the one at Maruoka Castle. Maruoka Castle’s castle keep is also the only original one in the entire Hokuriku region. It is an Important Cultural Property of Japan.

Unique Features of Maruoka Castle’s Keep

Located on the plains, Maruoka Castle has a castle keep in a freestanding watchtower style. From the outside, it looks like it has two stories, but it actually has three. Furthermore, the first floor entirely supports the other floors, with no pillars between them. Maruoka Castle also has incredibly steep staircases that are rare in Japan. The 1st to 2nd floor staircase is built at an angle of 65 degrees, while the 2nd to 3rd floor staircase is even steeper at 67 degrees. In addition, the castle keep’s roof is covered with stone tiles. Out of the twelve original castle towers in Japan, Maruoka Castle is the only one with this feature.

Highlights of Maruoka Castle

Enjoy the View From the Castle Keep!

Since the staircases at Maruoka Castle are especially steep, they have installed ropes to make it easier for visitors to climb up. Take advantage and climb all the way to the top floor! The ceiling on the top floor has windows on all four sides from which you can get a good view of the Maruoka townscape that the former castle residents must have also seen.

Secrets Used to Target Enemies

Maruoka Castle actually has stone-dropping windows and gaps that were used when enemies tried to attack. The stone-dropping windows are on the first floor of the castle keep. Soldiers would drop and throw stones, shoot arrows, or even aim guns at attackers trying to climb the castle’s walls. There are also little windows on the walls of the castle keep that were used to fire guns at outside enemies. If you get the chance to visit, please pay attention to all of these small design details!

Tour Maruoka Castle With Volunteer Guides!

To enjoy Maruoka Castle to the fullest, why not tour around with a volunteer guide? The Maruoka Sightseeing Volunteer Guide Association will warmly show visitors around the plaza in front of the Maruoka Castle keep as well as the inside of the tower. Just reserve your spot at least a week in advance by filling out the application form and sending it in via fax. *Guided tour is free *Visitors are recommended to purchase a guide book for 500 JPY

Sightseeing Around Maruoka Castle

Understand People Better at the Brief Messages From the Heart Museum

There are many attractive sightseeing spots in the vicinity of Maruoka Castle. One of them is the Brief Messages From the Heart Museum. Inside, the works of past winners of the nationwide “A Brief Message from the Heart” Letter Contest are on display. There are also videos showcasing Maruoka Castle in all four seasons, the seasonal flowers of Sakai City, popular sightseeing locations in the area, and more. The exemplar of this competition is a letter written by Shigetsugu Honda, the father of the first Maruoka Domain lord Narishige Honda, to his wife from his military camp. Though short, the letter is clear and concise, and his consideration and concern for his wife and children comes through. Why not have a look at all the letters on display for yourself and reflect on the author’s thoughts?
Brief Messages From the Heart Museum

Discover More of Maruoka Castle’s History at the Maruoka Museum of History and Folklore!

This museum was opened in the former castle grounds of Maruoka Castle in 1978 to commemorate its 400th anniversary. The permanent exhibit displays valuable items associated with the Honda and Arima lords of the castle, such as armor, furnishings, hanging scrolls, and old documents.

Maruoka Castle Festivals and Seasonal Highlights

Cherry Blossom Festival and Old Maruoka Castle Festival

The Maruoka Castle Cherry Blossom Festival is held every year from late March to mid-April when the cherry blossoms start to bloom around Maruoka Castle. The stunning sight of the castle keep standing amidst the fluttering petals can only be witnessed in the spring. During the festival, around 300 paper lanterns decorate the castle grounds. At night, they light up the surrounding cherry blossom trees, making the castle appear even more wondrous. There’s also the Old Maruoka Castle Festival, held every year in October, featuring a warrior parade and dance performances across the surrounding castle town. Don’t miss out on the sight of around 400 warriors and children dressed up to the nines in handmade armor! Also, every day during the festival at 8 and 9 pm, visitors can see a projection mapping show that combines the historical Maruoka Castle with the latest modern projection technologies. Maruoka Castle is equally as splendid in the other seasons thanks to the foliage of autumn and the snowy landscape of winter.

Maruoka Castle’s History According to Oshimo, the Volunteer Guide Association Chairman

Maruoka Castle crumbled under the 1948 Fukui Earthquake, but was able to be restored thanks to the efforts of the locals. Even though there wasn’t even enough to eat after the war, they put all their effort into the restoration. Today, we are the ones who carry and pass on their passionate thoughts and feelings about Maruoka Castle. There’s a lot that’s unique to Maruoka Castle, such as its original castle keep or tiled roof. We hope that you’ll choose to explore the charms of the castle together with us. Tetsuo Oshimo Chairman of the Maruoka Sightseeing Volunteer Guide Association


Name Maruoka Castle
Related Links https://kanko-sakai.com/en/spot/k003/
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