Taga Castle 多賀城
Founder Ohno no Azumabito
Year 724
Type Hilltop
Condition Ruins
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Historical Site Special Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles, Important Cultural Properties
Location Tagajo, Miyagi Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Kokufu-Tagajo Sta. (Tohoku Main Line), 15 min walk
Website Tagajo Tourism
Visited May 22, 2010
Notes A nice castle for castle fans to visit since it is one of the oldest castle sites in the country, and especially on the main island of Honshu. Stop by the tourist information just outside the station to get a map of the castle ruins. The first place to start just outside the station and then you only need to follow the blue signs (even if you can't read them) to get to the other sites.
History Taga Castle was built on the boundary between the Emishi people of the northeast and the lands ruled by the Imperial Court in Kyoto. It was the main military and political base for the pacification of the northeast. It was burned down in a rebellion in 780 but was soon rebuilt. Sakanoue no Tamuramaro moved the military base farther north in 802, but Taga Castle continued to flourish as the political and administrative center. Taga Castle lost it's importance during the period of Northern and Southern courts.

Several of castles of this same type were built pushing farther into the north as new territories were subjugated. Taga Castle is well known for being mentioned in an ancient history text (shokunihonki) and by Matsuo Basho in his famous Oku no Hosomichi.

Viewer Comments

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  • ART    December 15, 2016 at 04:17 PM
    Or just Tagajō / Taga Castle. Kokufu means “Provincial Capital.” This is the second oldest castle site I’ve ever visited: Tagajō was founded in 724. It is a type of fortification like a scaled-down walled city, as it also functioned as an administrative centre for the Yamato’s expanding frontier in Mutsu, formerly controlled by the Emishi, an ethnically distinct group from North Japan. Tagajō survived on into the Heian period which saw the rise of the warriors we would properly call Samurai (originally called Saburai, at which time their most cherished weapon was the bow, rather than the sword). With the rise of the half-blood Fujiwara no Kiyohira, Tagajō was eclipsed by his city of Hiraizumi and was soon abandoned. Tagajō once had a huge gatehouse. The government office was in the main hall, the largest and most important structure on the site, in the middle of the fort. These important structures had tiled roofs. Official ceremonies were hosted in the castle. At the site today the stone foundations and platforms on which the buildings stood have been mapped out, in some cases using the original stones. Dorui (earthen mounds) remain and surround the site, but the castle’s environs extend outwards across the countryside. The scale is quite vast. Earthen ramparts also survive on nearby hills, and an ancient stele, called Tsubo no Ishibumi, from the Nara period, commemorating Tagajō’s founding is to be found in a small lattice-work gazebo. When Matsuo Bashō, the travelling poet, came to Tagajō to inspect its ruins, he found this stele and wept. He wrote of his experience: “There are seldom any certain vestiges of what has been, yet in this place there are wholly trustworthy memorials of events a millennium ago”.
  • furinkazan on My Page    May 16, 2015 at 10:44 PM
    This morning i visited first the Tôhoku history museum, which is on the opposite side of the station than the castle-site. It's a decent museum. I thought i'll found the 100 meijô stamp there, but the ladies told me it was at the station. Indeed when you exit the station to the castle-site, it's just there to use. I went to the informationoffice and the guy there was really helpful for explaining the route to the castle. Actually i didn't expect a lot of this site because there are no buildings. But i really enjoyed the explanation-panels all around the place. Everything, or almost, is translated in english. I went everywhere, even to the ruins of the northern wall, which is in the woods. There is a trail to it. Actually they do there best to make the place enjoyable. Some men were cutting the grass in the northern part. The grass was already cut at the Seicho. You have to know that this is a very vast site. The existing ruins are scattered all over the place. On the explanation-panels there are photos of the excavations and drawings of the buildings in their heyday. If you are in Sendai it's only 13min on the Tôhoku line to Kokufu-Tagajô station. Normally i should give it only 1 star, but because of the explanations i give it 0.5 more.
  • rebolforces on My Page    March 27, 2013 at 09:09 PM
    Closer to 30 minutes walk, or that might have been the directions I got at the museum near the stations
  • Kris on My Page    March 20, 2011 at 12:31 AM
    Went here 4 weeks ago.
  • Eric on Tohoku Castle Trip 2010    June 21, 2010 at 08:00 PM
    Another famous josaku castle like Shiwa Castle
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Tagajo, Miyagi Pref.
Taga Castle views
remains of the government office
government or officials buildings central compound model
gate ruins and tuijibei wall open area in front of the provincial office
foundation of the provincial office. East Gate and wall ruins
southern wall ruins stone monument to the renovation of the castle
Sakkan area map of Taga Castle