Japanese Castles: Ako Castle
Ako Castle 赤穂城
Ako Castle (Ako-jo or Kariya-jo), is a flatland type of castle located in Hyogo Prefecture, western Japan.
The castle is well-known for its association with the Forty-seven Ronin, who in 1702 avenged the death of their lord, Naganori Asano, the daimyo of Ako, by killing Yoshinaka Kira. The ronin (masterless samurai) were ordered to commit suicide and their tombs are in Sengakuji Temple in Tokyo.
Their leader was Yoshio Oishi (aka Kuranosuke Oishi) and Oishi Shrine stands in the grounds of Ako Castle on the site of the former Oishi mansion. The annual Ako Festival, Gishisai, takes place at Oishi Shrine on December 14 to commemorate the day of the Forty-seven Ronin's attack on Kira.
Ako Castle is often used as a location for the many movie portrayals of the famous and ever-popular story of the Forty-seven Ronin.
Ako Castle was built by Asano Naganao and completed in 1648 after 13 years of construction. The design is somewhat different from traditional castles with its sharply angled walls recalling the castle architecture of Goryokaku in Hakodate, Hokkaido. Ako Castle is located close to the shore.
The keep or donjon was never built in the end as permission was not granted by the Tokugawa regime. However, visitors can admire the fine stone walls and entrance gate as well as a number of yagura or turrets. The inner Ninomaru Gardens have also been tasefully restored.
After the Meiji Restoration of 1868 the castle was dismantled under the Castle Abolition Law passed in 1873. However restoration work, using traditional techniques has been ongoing since the 1970s.
Ako Castle grounds are noted for their cherry-blossom (sakura) in season.
Tel: 0791 42 2054 (Oishi Shrine)
Ako Castle Access - how to get to Ako Castle
Images of Ako Castle by Jake Davies et al
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