Aoba Castle (Sendai Castle) 青葉城
Aoba Castle, also known as Sendai Castle (仙台城) or Gojo-ro (五城楼) is located in Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture.
Aoba Castle was the home base of the powerful Date clan throughout the Edo Period (1600-1867).
Aoba Castle History
Aoba Castle was built in 1602 by Date Masamune, the legendary "One Eyed Dragon" whose equestrian statue in the castle grounds is an iconic symbol of the city.
Date was a powerful ally of Ieyasu Tokugawa and it is Ieyasu, the first Tokugawa shogun, who is thought to have renamed Mt. Aoba as Sendai.
The castle is located on a 100m-high wooded plateau that offers great views of Sendai city below. The virgin fir forest on the western slope was protected from felling during the Edo era and now forms part of the Tohoku University Botanical Garden.
Aoba Castle was not heavily fortified and a central keep, though planned, was never constructed. The castle was completed in 1637 by Date Tadamune, the second son of Masamune.
The large Ni-no-Maru bailey served as the daimyo's palace and administrative center of the surrounding Mutsu province.
The buildings of Aoba Castle were constantly damaged by repeated fires and earthquakes throughout its history. Then in the Meiji Period, from the 1870's on, parts of the castle were dismantled.
A major fire in 1882 destroyed more of the original fortress and finally an American air raid during World War II and subsequent US military occupation of the site post-War obliterated any remains.
All that is left of the original castle are the impressive stone walls. A reconstructed turret gives some idea of what the castle would have looked like in its heyday.
Aoba Castle grounds are now home to a Gokoku Shrine, established in 1902, which honors Japan's war dead and is associated with Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. The shrine has a small museum dedicated to Japanese military history.
The Aoba Castle Exhibition Hall (Tel: 022 222 0218; 700 yen) has computer-generated displays of what the castle looked like in its glory days along with information on Date Masamune and the Date clan. There's also a number of shops here to pick up souvenirs from Sendai.
Sendai City Museum is within walking distance of the castle and introduces the history of the city and displays of Date family treasures including Masamune Date's suit of armor and relics from the fascinating journey to Mexico and Europe by his retainer, Hasekura Tsunenaga (1613 - 1620). This epic voyage, Japan's first embassy to the Americas and Europe, is described in Shusako Endo's novel The Samurai.
Sendai Yagiyama Zoo and Yagiyama Benyland amusement park are both about 1500m from the castle to the south west.
Kawauchi, 1, Aoba-ku
Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture 980-0862
Tel: 022 222 0218
Access To Aoba Castle
From JR Sendai Station, take the Loople Bus to stop number #6 to the castle or stop #5 to Sendai City Museum.
From International Center (Kokusai Center) Station on the Tozai Line of the Sendai subway, it is a short 5-minute stroll to Sendai City Museum or a 20 minute uphill walk to Aoba Castle grounds.
Aoba Castle Map
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