Hirosaki Castle

From Jcastle.info
Castle Properties
English Name Hirosaki Castle
Japanese Name 弘前城
Alternate Names Takaoka-jo
Founder Tsugaru Nobuhira
Year Founded 1611
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition Original main keep
Designations Top 100 Castles, has Important Cultural Properties, National Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Main Keep Structure 3 levels, 3 stories
Artifacts Otemon Gate, Higashimon Gate, Tatsumi Yagura, Hitsujisaru Yagura, Ushitora Yagura, Minamiuchimon Gate, Higashiuchimon Gate, Kitamon Gate, tenshu
Features main keep, gates, turrets, bridges, water moats, stone walls, walls, castle town
Visitor Information
Access Hirosaki Station, 25 minute walk, or short bus ride
Visitor Information
Time Required
Website http://www.city.hirosaki.aomori.jp/hirosaki400th/index.html
Location Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture
Coordinates 40° 36' 28", 140° 27' 55"
Admin Visits
Year Visited 1999, 2010
Visits April 1999, May 21, 2010
Added 1999
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Hirosaki13.jpg


History

Ooura Tamenobu was awarded the area around Hirosaki for his loyalty to Hideyoshi during the Battle of Odawara. He changed his name to to Tsugaru and started work on Hirosaki Castle in 1603. He died in 1607 and work on the castle was put on hold until his son Tsugaru Nobuhira restarted it in 1610. He finished the castle in just one year by cannibalizing materials from Horikoshi Castle and Daikoji Castle. The 3 level main keep of Hirosaki Castle seems disproportionately small when compared to the huge estate encompassed by the castle today. Hirosaki Castle was originally built with a 5 level keep which was struck by lightning and burned to the ground in 1627. The new 3 level keep is actually just the renovated Ninomaru tasumi yagura watchtower. The Tsugaru clan held the castle until the Meiji Restoration when it was taken over by the government.

Hirosaki Castle has the only extant main keep to the east of Matsumoto Castle (Nagano Pref.) making it a historical treasure of the Tohoku region. Hirosaki Castle is also famous throughout Japan for the more than 2600 cherry trees that fill its grounds today. Every spring when the trees are in bloom thousands of visitors flock to the grounds for one of Japan's finest Cherry Blossom Festivals.

Visit Notes

Hirosaki is on of my favorite castles. Even though the main keep is not very spectacular ad there is less stonework than comparable castles, the buildings and walls are more unique than most other castles. There are five large, original yaguramon gates, the likes of which you won't see anywhere else, and 3 three story yagura. The layout of the castle grounds and moats are nearly perfectly preserved which makes a vast peaceful and relaxing park without too many people. Aomori is also famous for apples so you'll see apple treats, apple juice and more everywhere. They're the best you'll find in Japan so enjoy some while you're there.


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Gallery



4.29
(28 votes)
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SuupaahiirooAshigaru

3 months ago
Score 1++
Absolutely amazing castle site to visit, one of the best. The copper roof tiles (used as a replacement of ceramic ones at the beginning of the 19th century) give the buildings a very distinct look, unlike any other castle I have visited. Note that the tenshukaku wasn't just moved, they also inserted a large metal frame within the keep to strengthen it (I guess). My wife observed the ishiotoshi looked kinda funny with the keep in its current position, with the ground just half a meter below it :)
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ARTHatamoto

10 months ago
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I was wondering. If Hirosakijō’s main keep was originally constructed as a yagura but then was later utilised as a main keep, then does it really count as an original main keep? I’m sure I’ve come across other originally standing yagura which were used in place of a tenshukaku. A colleague of mine who is into his history and whom I often talk about castles with was quite assertive in saying that Hirosakijō didn’t count. Thoughts?
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SuupaahiirooAshigaru

13 months ago
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The satellite images used on Google Earth show the tenshu in the process of being moved, very interesting! https://goo.gl/bv6eNS

There is also a video on YouTube of the main keep being moved. https://youtu.be/NcetoNW60TA
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Kiddus i2003Ashigaru

18 months ago
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Finally made it to see it. But they had moved it 78 metres so they could repair the wall it stood on. No mean feat , it still looked great and the sakura were only a day or so away , some had shown already. Worth the trip.
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ARTHatamoto

19 months ago
Score 0++
oh wow that's some time > <
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JcastleHatamoto

19 months ago
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The main keep was temporarily relocated towards the center of the honmaru to repair the stone walls below it. They were bulging out and under threat of collapsing. It is planned to move the keep back in 2021 but the total repair of the stone walls could take another 5 years more.
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ARTHatamoto

19 months ago
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Do we know what's going on with this site, I heard they relocated the tenshu/yagura pictured above?
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Ctrebaol56Peasant

19 months ago
Score 0++
First Japanese castle I've ever visited, so thus far it's the best, and in addition to that had the benefit of going on the first weekend of the cherry blossom festival. This means it was packed and full of all kinds of festival foods and people. Really wonderful to see all the picnickers out.
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JcastleHatamoto

30 months ago
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Furinkazan. Congratulations! 100th castle and finishing the Original 12 in the same trip is a huge deal. I don't think there are many foreigners (including myself) who've been to all 12, yet alone those who don't even live here. Well done !
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FurinkazanHatamoto

30 months ago
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I finally visted the 12 castles with original tenshukaku. The yaguramon were indeed very impressive as noted by Eric. The moat in front of the honmaru is covered and they are preparing to move the tenshukaku to the centre of the honmaru. Some trees and other plants were being moved this morning. The tenshukaku is closed due to the repairs, but it was still on its original place. After the castle i visited the bukeyashiki in the north, just behind the kamenokomon. They are free of charge, only the Ishiba residence is 100¥. The old lady there gave me an english explanation of the place. First i thought it was for me to keep, but actually you have to read it and give it back.
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Jorma.drielPeasant

36 months ago
Score 0++
Splendid castle and 1 of my personal favourites. Been there twice; once in early summer and the other time in the winter. The winter festival was more then amazing with the ground illuminated with special Castle snow lanterns. http://www.e...nter_01.html
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RonSAshigaru

43 months ago
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I just learned about the restoration work on TV and felt great disappointment because my wife and I were planning to visit there this summer. Going there would mean that I had finally, after 32 years, visited all of the \sacred 12"original keeps. So I was ENORMOUSLY relieved to learn that work won't start on the emptying of the moat until October. The work to move the keep will begin next year. So it is now imperative than that we go this summer. You too if you've been planning to go. Here is the official website with some more details graphics and a video to compliment the info phibbyfan provides below: http://www.h...shigaki.html"
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PhibbyfanPeasant

43 months ago
Score 0++

Bad news for those hoping to visit this castle. Starting this fall the walls will undergo rennovation which will require them to remove the keep and cover the moat. The keep will be gone for 5 years and the rennovations will not be fully complete for 10 years. If you want to visit, you'd better go soon:

http://www.k...4_25012.html
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Anonymous user #1

45 months ago
Score 0++
wow this is a most beautiful place in the world
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KrisGunshi

70 months ago
Score 0++

Hirosaki castle is one of those castles that will look great any time of year; even in the frozen depths of winter. Those cherry trees all throughout the park turn into cotton wool trees – it look absolutely otherworldly and nothing like the photos displayed here. There are icicles hanging off all the yagura, the moats are all frozen and the only relief from whiteness everywhere is bright red of the bridges. Full points for keeping the grounds fully accessible - even in deep snow they had a path up to every single signpost and every single sign-post was clear of snow.

The museum in the keep is closed in winter so we couldn't see inside. Still, there was enough historical information in the city museum near the southern gate, I could still buy Takamaru-kun goods at the information centre opposite the east gate and I got the 100meijo stamp at the park office, so going in winter didn't hamper any secondary castle-viewing objectives either. We went right before the snow lantern festival so there were snowploughs and work crews on the grounds - I have an awesome shot of a snowplough driving through a gate like some kind of rival daimyo mounting a modern winter assault – and some of the gates and trees were a bit dangerous to be near when a breeze was blowing, but other than that. Hirosaki in winter – amazing! Fantastic castle.
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Frank T.Gunshi

74 months ago
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Not only is this one of the 12 original keeps still intact, but like other locations that are sufficiently far from a major metropolitan area, it was largely empty both times I visited. In fact, the first time I visited, I was able to ride my motorcycle onto the grounds, take photos and park near the keep, then explore on foot. The grounds and gardens here are among the best.
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JcastleHatamoto

82 months ago
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I know sections of the castle were unavailable last year. I had the same problem when I was there in May. I thought all the construction was supposed to be finished by the end of 2010 for the big 400th anniversary bash in 2011. If you see something to the contrary please let me know. I also updated the link above to link to the 400th anniversary website.
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KrisGunshi

82 months ago
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My brother really wants to see this one when he comes to Japan. I'm not so keen about the cold or the distance but for him the more snow the better. (I'd rather see Hirosaki in Spring or Summer). I read it was closed from 24th Nov to 31st March - does anyone know if that is just the keep or if it means large parts of the park ground are inaccessible due to snow? BTW, above link won't load on my computer.
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Alamo6400Peasant

83 months ago
Score 0++
the trip to this castle was amazing I LOVED THE BEATIFUL SCENE UP THERE IN THE TOWERS
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LearoyPeasant

89 months ago
Score 0++
The castle is not there anymore, just one guard tower remains. However if you get the chance to visit during their Sakura season, which is about two weeks later then Tokyo, you will see an amazing display with 5000 Sakura on the grounds.
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JcastleHatamoto

90 months ago
Score 0++
Splendid castle with many original buildings