Japanese Castles: Marugame Castle
Marugame Castle 丸亀城
Marugame Castle, west of Takamatsu in Kagawa Prefecture in northern Shikoku, dates from 1597. Marugame Castle has one of only a dozen remaining original keeps (donjon) in Japan.
Perched on a hill south of Marugame town, the most impressive features of Marugame Castle are its huge stone walls rising up to 50m in parts.
The walls of the castle are known as Ougi no Kobai as they resemble the shape of a folding fan. Incidently Marugame is known for its production of paper fans.
The pleasant castle grounds are now a park with hundreds of cherry trees, a small zoo and a play ground for young children.
The small central tower of Marugame Castle has the usual displays of samurai helmets, photographs of Japan's other fortresses, samurai swords and armor with impressive views over the surrounding countryside and the Inland Sea, the body of water separating Shikoku from Honshu to the north.
Ikoma Chikamasa, the Lord of Sanuki, built the first castle in Marugame in 1597, but it was pulled down on orders of the Tokugawa regime in 1615 as part the "one fief, one castle" ordinance and then rebuilt in 1641 by Yamasaki Ieharu.
Marugame Castle is a hirayamashiro - a castle on a hill (yama) rising from a plain or flat land (hira). Marugame Castle has also been known as Kameyama Castle or Horai Castle.
After the Meiji Restoration a fire damaged the castle in 1869 and a year later the new authorities pulled down more of the castle and filled in the moat in line with destroying the power of the former feudal lords. The only original buildings that remain are the tenshu (keep), Ote Ichino Gate and Ote Nino Gate.
From JR Marugame Station, the castle is a 15-minute walk. By car, exit the Takamatsu Expressway at the Zentsuji Interchange.
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