Maruoka Castle, Japan's Oldest Existing Castle Tower Located in Fukui
Maruoka Castle is an old castle in Sakai City, Fukui Prefecture. Built in 1576, the existing castle tower is said to be the oldest structure in Japan. It is also known as Kasumigajō (Castle), because of the legend that says a great snake protected the castle by covering it with mist.
The Best Things About Maruoka Castle
Maruoka Castle is one of Japan's top 100 castles and the castle tower has been designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan. It also has the oldest architectural style of all the existing castle towers. The surviving castle tower is a samurai castle with only 12 buildings remaining throughout the country. Therefore, the castle tower of Maruoka Castle is considered an important building for the history of castle architecture. Furthermore, the roof of the castle tower is covered with slate roof tiles. This is the only existing castle tower like this.
How to Enjoy the Architecture
Maruoka Castle still retains the oldest architectural style out of all the currently existing castle towers. We would like you to focus on the style.
First, there is the stone wall on which the castle tower is located. The characteristic of this wall is that it uses Nozurazumi, an old method of piling stones that have not had their shapes processed. Although there are many holes in the wall, it is said to be excellent for drainage and resistant to heavy rain.
Also, the appearance of its exterior is unusual. The castle tower is said to have a watchtower-type structure, and there is a Boro (watchtower) on the roof for keeping guard and sightseeing. It is very distinctive as there are holes in the outer wall and things that look like slightly overhanging windows.
In addition, the interior must not be overlooked. There are devices for defense everywhere. The holes that can be seen from the outer wall are called Sama, and the overhanging windows are called Ishiotoshi (stone dropping). Both were built for shooting and throwing stones. In addition, the view of the four sides of the tower can be seen from the watchtower, and the view is sublime.
Famous Festivals Held in Maruoka Castle
Maruoka Castle has two festivals held in spring and autumn.
The first is the Maruoka Castle Cherry Blossom Festival. It is held annually between 1-20th April . At night, around 400 Yoshino cherry blossoms on the trees planted around the castle are illuminated by around 300 light bulbs. As well as that, the castle is also lit up, and the appearance of floating in the cherry blossoms at night is charming. Events and product markets are held on Saturdays and Sundays during the illumination period.
In October, the Maruoka Ancient Castle Festival is held. An event called Jidai Gyōretsu (Era Parade) is also noteworthy. People dressed up as military commanders wearing handmade armour and helmets parade around Maruoka Castle along with ancient mechanical doll Dashi floats called Karakuri dolls, and bring the festival to life.
Famous Flowers, Instagram Worthy Photo Spots
The area around Maruoka Castle is maintained as a Japanese garden called Kasumigajo Garden. It has been selected as one of the Japan's Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots. About 400 Yoshino cherry trees bloom in spring, and it is an excellent photo spot where the castle tower can be seen towering over the cherry blossoms.
It has also been chosen as one of the 100 Historical Parks in Japan, and the setting of Maruoka Castle seen through the trees in the garden is like a picture.
About Maruoka Castle
- Year of construction: 1576
- Festival: Maruoka Castle Cherry Blossom Festival (1-20th April )
- Maruoka Castle Festival (2nd Sunday in October and the previous day)
- Spot name: Maruoka Castle
- Street address: 1-59 Maruokachō Kasumichō, Sakai, Fukui 910-0231
- Access: JR Fukui Station → [Keifuku Bus Prefectural Hospital Maruoka Line / Owada Maruoka Line] About 50 minutes → Maruoka Castle Bus Stop ... 1 minute walk
- Wi-Fi: Available（Sakai free Wi-Fi）
- Language ： English, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified)
- Ticket Purchase：At acceptance
- Credit cards：No credit cards accepted