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.
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.
|English Name||Hirosaki Castle|
|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|
|Access||Hirosaki Station, 25 minute walk, or short bus ride|
|Location||Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture|
|Coordinates||40° 36' 28", 140° 27' 55"|
|Year Visited||1999, 2010|
|Visits||April 1999, May 21, 2010|
|Added to Jcastle||1999|