Wakayama Castle

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Wakayama12.jpg

History

In 1585, under the orders of his older brother Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Toyotomi Hidenaga established Wakayama Castle to help rule over the Kii area. When the castle was finished, Hidenaga had made Yamato Koriyama Castle his home base and stationed Kuwayama Shigeharu here in his place.

Asano Yoshinaga was stationed at Wakayama Castle after the Battle of Sekigahara. In 1619, Tokugawa Ieyasu's 10th child Yorinobu became lord of the castle. From that point until the Meiji Restoration the castle was ruled by successive Tokugawa lords.

Even after the Meiji Restoration, the beautiful main keep was kept intact and designated a National Treasure. Unfortunately, it burned to the ground during bombings in 1945. Wakayama Castle together with Himeji Castle and Iyo-Matsuyama Castle are called the Three Great Flatland Mountain Castles.


Visit Notes

I put off going to this castle for a long while, but after visiting I really think that most castle books don't give it justice. The amount of stone walls and baileys that remain are impressive. Even though the main keep and connected buildings are reconstructed, the complex keep style (renritsushiki) that completely encloses the main keep courtyard is one of only a few that you can see like this. The castle also has two original gates, a beautifully reconstructed covered bridge, and you can see all the different types of stone walls depending on when they were built. There is also an original bell tower yagura, the kitchen yagura from the honmaru palace and a samurai home in the town. I highly recommend you take the time to walk the grounds and enjoy this great castle.


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Gallery
  • main keep, Ninomon, and Ninomon Yagura
  • Okaguchi gate
  • Main keep and connected yagura
  • Main keep
  • main keep
  • Approaching the main keep
  • Ninomon Gate (Kusunoki Gate)
  • Inside the Main Keep compound
  • Inui Yagura
  • Main keep bailey.
  • Ninomon Yagura
  • Uzumimon Gate (buried gate)
  • foundation of the Daidokoro Yagura
  • Rock chutes
  • Okaguchi Gate
  • Rear side of the Okaguchi Gate
  • wall connecting to the Okaguchi Gate
  • Otemon Gate and Ichinohashi Bridge
  • Back side of the Otemon Gate
  • Oimawashi Gate
  • Oimawashi Gate
  • Ohashiroka
  • Ohashiroka Bridge
  • Inside the Ohashiroka Bridge
  • a high stone wall
  • East moat near the Oteguchi Gate
  • Stone walls of the Akazumon Gate ruins
  • Stone walls of the former Nakamon Gate.
  • Stone steps of the Okura Bailey.
  • Stone steps of the Okuru Bailey
  • Stone walls of the South Bailey
  • Stone walls
  • Stone walls near the Tsurunomon Gate ruins
  • high stone wall foundation of a yagura
  • dry moat
  • Stone walls of the South Nakamon entrance
  • stone walls and steps
  • map


Castle Profile
English Name Wakayama Castle
Japanese Name 和歌山城
Alternate Names Takegaki-jo, Torafusu-jo
Founder Toyotomi Hidenaga
Year Founded 1585
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition Reconstructed main keep
Designations Top 100 Castles, has Important Cultural Properties, National Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Main Keep Structure 3 levels, 3 stories
Year Reconstructed 1958 (concrete)
Artifacts Okaguchi Gate
Features main keep, gates, turrets, bridges, water moats, stone walls, walls
Visitor Information
Access Wakayama Station (Nankai Line, JR Hanwa Line); 15 min bus to Koenmae bus stop, or walk 20 mins
Visitor Information 400 yen; open 9-5:30pm; closed 12/29-12/31
Time Required 120 mins
Website http://www.wakayamakanko.com/eng/sightseeing/history1.html
Location Wakayama City, Wakayama Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 13' 39.40" N, 135° 10' 16.93" E
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Admin
Added to Jcastle 2005
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 2012
Admin Visits March 17, 2012
Friends of JCastle
Malcolm Fairman Photography - Wakayama Castle


3.75
(24 votes)
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RaymondWDaimyo

11 months ago
Score 1++
Apparently there has been some recent (late July 2023) chatter about kokuins (stonemason’s seals) at Wakayama Castle on another website. One experienced castle fan initially wasn’t even sure if there were kokuins at Wakayama Castle. If he had just read my comment posted months ago below, he would have noticed that I mentioned there are lots of kokuins at this castle. It is after all a Shinpan Daimyo’s castle with a Tokugawa as the castle lord from 1619 until the Meiji Restoration. There are literally thousands of kokuins at this castle site, documented by the Wakayama Castle Research Group (和歌山城郭調査研究会). Just around the Okaguchi Gate, which I mentioned in my comment below, there are dozens of kokuins. Apart from this area, there are other ishigaki with lots of different kokuins. I have hundreds of photos with scores of different kokuins at this magnificent castle site. I also saw and photographed a rare peach kokuin which acts as a talisman against evil spirits on the stone walls at one of the gates. “Slow castling” or spending 5 or 6 hours at just one castle site certainly pays off when one is looking for kokuins.
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Anonymous user #1

14 months ago
Score 0 You
Besides the Okaguchi Gate, which is the other original gate?
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Matthew WardGunshi

12 months ago
Score 1++
The other original gate is the Oimawashi Gate pictured above.
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RaymondWDaimyo

15 months ago
Score 1++

I visited this castle again last month after previously visiting it in 2012. In past visits to Wakayama Castle, I had insufficiently researched and under-appreciated this castle. Wakayama Castle can be deceptively simple as many visitors tended to visit only parts of the castles and be impressed by some of its high stone walls but underwhelmed by the reconstructed concrete castle keep (despite its decent museum and collection of samurai armour.) Furinkazan mentioned in his comment below about taking more time to properly appreciate this hirayamajiro on his second visit. Well, I did exactly that on my fifth visit to this castle, spending 6 hours in and around the castle.

The two hills where the reconstructed castle keep is located along with the site of the former honmaru palace are pretty much encased in ishigaki (stone walls), but unlike Marugame Castle, some of the stone walls are obscured by trees, so it is not readily visible from a distance. At certain places, a castle fan will notice the two distinctive styles of stone wall construction next to each other, nozura-zumi style from the pre-1600 Toyotomi time and the later more tight-fitting stones of the uchikomihagi style from post-1600, when Asano finished building Wakayama Castle.

In addition to the large amount of ishigaki, there are also over 2,000 kokuins or stonemason’s seals on some parts of the stone walls scattered all over the castle indicating which lord had contributed to building the castle. One easy cluster of kokuins to spot is around the Okaguchi Gate.

Not shown on the castle profile photos here and missed by me on my previous visits are the ruins of two water gates on the east side of the castle.

As Furinkazan mentioned, there is the Ōmura Nagayamon, a “long gate” building once owned by a middle-ranked samurai. The nagayamon is an extant building from the Edo Period. Also, around 100 metres from the Ōmura Nagayamon is the site of a rock quarry which was used for constructing and repairing Wakayama Castle’s stone walls. Several holes made in preparation for splitting rocks can be seen on one of the rocky outcrops there.

As always, there are changes to castle sites if one visits them multiple times over many years. In the past, I have been able to walk freely around the perimeter of the castle keep, but there are now ropes blocking access to the back part of the castle keep, so you can no longer get to the Uzimon nor look up at the Daitoro Yagura from the outside as shown in some of the photos on this profile.

Wakayama Castle certainly deserves the accolade of being ranked as one of the Top Three Hirayamajiro (a castle with both flatland and mountaintop baileys) in Japan. If you visit this castle, do more than just make a beeline for the reconstructed castle keep at the top of the hill. Take your time and walk around all the baileys of this castle, noting its many defensive features such as the sites of where some turrets, hoardings, and gates had once stood, admire the different styles of stone wall construction, and perhaps look for some stonemason seals.
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EricShogun

15 months ago
Score 0++
6hrs! Kokuin! Oh my. I think I need to revisit this one....
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RaymondWDaimyo

15 months ago
Score 1++
@Eric. You can literally spend a whole day at this castle if you go back for a slow revisit. There are kokuins all over the place. If you do go for a revisit, make sure you drop by the Wakayama Prefectural Museum. There is a detailed model of Tedori Castle inside this museum. I have also posted a comment about this on the Tedori Castle profile.
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FurinkazanDaimyo

18 months ago
Score 1++

I visited this site, for a second time, on 07/12/2022. I did a more profound visit than in 2010 and appreciated it more. The Jieitai(self defense force of Japan), were removing shrubs and grasses from the ishigaki. To the south-east of the castle, there is a relocated nagayamon of the Ômura residence.

I also recommend to visit the history museum to the north-west of the castle. There is a video of the castle during it's heyday.
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SnoworionGunshi

94 months ago
Score 1++
Visited on 9 September 2016. Visited too late in the day to fully take the time to appreciate the castle or walk along the reconstructed covered bridge. Nonetheless worth a re-visit.
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Kiddus i2003Gunshi

110 months ago
Score 0++
Good display inside of the reconstruction of this castle.
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PhibbyfanAshigaru

151 months ago
Score 0++
I visited this castle today and was surprised at how nice it was! Outside it looks great but the museum inside has so many nice artifacts. I heard that these were not all there previously due to the rennovations so maybe those who went earlier would want to return.
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A22cricketAshigaru

159 months ago
Score 0++
Nice, Like Osaka Jo, looks great from the outside. Grounds are a nice park.
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RaymondWDaimyo

166 months ago
Score 0++
The reconstructed castle keep is fairly average and the museum is pretty decent. The four stars is mainly for its ishigaki, historical importance, and gardens.
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FurinkazanDaimyo

166 months ago
Score 0++
I visited this castle today and thereafter i went to Kishiwada. The grounds of this one are beautiful. You may visit the garden for free and this is really rewarding. Actually the outer walls of the tenshu are in renovation(scaffolds), which mean you cannot take the picture which appears when you look at this castle on this site. Still you can take some nice pictures from lower baileys because trees are hiding the scaffolds. The top of the tenshu is still visible. The collection in the castle is really worthfull, but the castle is a concrete one.
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RaymondWDaimyo

193 months ago
Score 0++
Visited this castle on the same day that I went to Himeji Castle. I guess it suffered a little in comparison, but it is still a nice castle to visit. It has a decent museum and a great panoramic view of Wakayama City from the top of the castle. You can also walk inside the completely covered walls which is sort of like parts of the western walls at Himeji Castle. Wakayama Castle is about a 20 minute walk from JR Wakayama Station. You can also catch a bus from the station which stops right outside the castle.