Aizu Wakamatsu Castle 会津若松城
Founder Ashina Naomori
Gamo2
Year 1384
Type Hilltop
Condition Reconstructed
Alternate Name Tsuruga-jo, Kurokawa-jo
Reconstructed 1965 (concrete)
Structure 5 levels, 7 stories
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles
Location Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture
Map Google Map
Access Wakamatsu Station (Ban'etsu Saisen), 30 minute walk or 10 minutes by bus
Website Aizu Wakamatsu City Website
Visited October 1997, January 1998, Sept. 14, 2003; July 17, 2011
Notes The gray roofing tiles were all replaced in 2010-2011 with reddish tiles to match the original construction. The castle has many great moats and stone walls so I recommend taking the time to walk the grounds.
History

Tsuruga-jo is the strongest and oldest fortress in all of Tohoku. It was originally built in 1384 as Kurokawa-jo by Ashina Naomori. In 1589 Date Masamune defeated Ashina Yoshihiro and moved into Kurokawa-jo. A year later it was absorbed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and governed by Gamo Ujisato. Gamo renovated the castle and renamed it Tsuruga-jo. The reconstructed main keep you see today was built by Gamo.

After the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate the castle was governed by the Matsudaira clan. The Matsudaira were a branch of the Tokugawa family and thus in the category of "inner lords." The "inner lords" were branches of the Tokugawa family who kept watch over the daimyo who were not originally Tokugawa allies and provided a buffer between allied and non-allied daimyo.

The Matsudaira ruled from Tsuruga-jo until the Meiji Restoration when it fell in the Boshin War . The most famous episode from the downfall of Tsuruga-jo is that of the Byakkotai.

The layout, nawabari, of this castle was patterened after that of Osaka Castle during Hideyoshi's time.

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  • kiddus_i2003 on My Page    April 04, 2014 at 10:51 PM
    Saw this early in my castle trips loved it, will be back in 2014.
  • RonS on My Page    April 01, 2013 at 12:20 AM
  • Usagi on My Page    January 02, 2012 at 07:53 PM
    We visited this castle as part of two day trip to Fukushima and saw it in combination with the Abukuma-do caves and the old post town Ouichijuku. The castle and grounds were covered in snow, which set the scene for some great photos. The castle itself is a basic concrete reconstruction, but the area is well worth the visit. The drive though the mountains to the old postal town of Ouichijuku is magnificent.
  • Frank T. on My Page    October 05, 2011 at 10:57 PM
    This castle is very much in the mold of Osaka and Nagoya Castles. If you don't mind a large concrete reconstruction for the keep, there are plenty of other things to see.
  • Kris    January 11, 2011 at 10:41 PM
    I believe so. When young, Gamo Ujisato was originally given to the Oda as a hostage when his father pledged allegiance. He grew up at Gifu. He then served Hashiba Hideyoshi and received Matsusaka and later Aizu-Wakamatsu. Anyway, I was sorting through Aizu omiyage to start handing out and I realised the new mascot character for Tsuruga-jo, Oshirobo-kun, has a red roof. I thought that was neat. Also, Eric, your story is sweet and romantic. Castles are a great place to take your partner.
  • Alamo6400    January 08, 2011 at 11:54 AM
    was'nt the gamo clan serving the oda clan
  • Eric    January 02, 2011 at 10:32 PM
    Definitely worth a trip, even in winter. When I lived in Fukushima, this was the first place I took my girlfriend when she came up to visit from Kyoto during New Year's break for her first (and last) trip to Fukushima. It was cold and snowing so hard we could barely see the tenshu. It didn't make a very good impression, but she still married me.
  • Kris on My Page    December 31, 2010 at 09:21 PM
    I agree completely. Beautiful place. Aizu in the evening, entrenched in snow. In the morning there is a million dollar view of the mountains. I walked to Tsuruga-jo and enroute discovered Noguchi Street – filled with caricatures of the scientist better known as the man on the 1000 yen note. There were reportedly some ishigaki of Aizu-han naka yashiki at Noguchi Hiroba but I couldn't tell because they were smothered with a drift of snow up to my thighs. Tsuruga-jo was superb. Only the bottom level had scaffolding and if you crouched down and positioned the snow and trees just right you could still get a spectacular photo. The collection inside was standard; my favourite was the sign of a person the average height in the Edo Era, sort of 'you must be this short to enter the yagura' but better, because I was exactly the same height. The place also had a Tenchijin exihibit (Tenchijin lives!) and life-sized models of a teppo ashigaru and an ishi-otoshi ashigaru. Some thoughtful sculptor had made a snow yumi ashigaru in the castle grounds, complete with eyes, bow, quiver of arrows and even stripes on his coat. The moat was frozen. This amazed me. It had never occurred to me that a moat could freeze. It was breathtaking to see those massive stone edifices glittering with white crystals and guarding a motionless moat. I also went to the nearby Bukeyashiki, which was great for photos and very informative. Nearby is one of Kondo Isami's graves, touchingly not far from the Matsudaira mausoleum. It was snowed under so I only made it as far as the main temple, (reason to come back!) Likewise with the Byakkotai graves. The only thing I found annoying in Aizu was I wanted to get a post-card of Matsudaira Katamori for a friend of mine but couldn't find anything amidst the maze of White Tiger mementos; I secretly took a photo of the Matsudaira picture in the castle museum instead. (Criminal).
  • maddy~    December 31, 2010 at 11:57 AM
    what a beautiful place, i can go here a million times and never get tired. too bad its still under construction :/
  • admin    April 05, 2010 at 09:22 AM
    see here for more details. http://www.jcastle.info/resources/view/13-Modern-History
  • Anonymous    April 03, 2010 at 05:59 AM
    what i wonder is why practically no original donjons surviveed on japanese castles.
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Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture
Aizu Wakamatsu Castle views
main keep Gosangai Yagura
main keep main keep
main keep stone stairs
West bailey moat near the North Bailey
moat around the Honmaru Obi Kuruwa bailey Bell tower
Nishi Naka Gate Nishi Naka Gate ruins
Tsukimi Yagura Foundation Hoshii Yagura and South Hashirinagaya Tamon Yagura
Hashirinagaya, Kurogane Gate and Hoshii Yagura interior of the Hashirinagaya Yagura
Hoshii Yagura Interior Kurogane Gate
Mushahashiri stone stairs Stone walls of the Rokabashi Gate
Rokabashi Bridge view from the Rokabashi Bridge
NInomaru East Gate View from the main kep
map