Japan Atlas: Architecture 


Location: Maruoka Town, Fukui Prefecture

Built: in 1576


The oldest castle still standing in Japan

Maruoka Castle is located on a high hill above Maruoka Town, Fukui Prefecture, in central Japan. The castle is also known as Kasumiga Joh, Mist Castle, owing to a legend that a fog would descend to protect it in time of battle.

Maruoka Castle was completed in 1576, and is the oldest one remaining of all the castles in Japan.

In 1948 the structure was destroyed by an earthquake, but by 1955 it was reconstructed using 80% of the original building materials, and remains standing today. It is a nationally designated Important Cultural Property.

It was common for castles to be located on mountains, mainly for reasons of defense and offense during battle. As time passed, other priorities, such as political and economic considerations, as well as convenient access become important and the construction of castles shifted from the mountains to the plains.

Maruyama Castle is located midway between the mountains and the plains, and is built in the older style of the Muromachi Period (1338-1573). There is a veranda with handrails going around the donjon at the top story. Also it has a watchtower. The upper stories could also be used as the livings quarters for the lord of the castle.

Japanese castles were usually roofed with ceramic tiles, but in Maruyama Castle, a local stone was processed and used for roof, something seldom seen in Japan.

Kasumiga Joh Park, with its 400 Yoshino cherry trees, surrounds the castle and has been selected as one of the top 100 most beautiful places for viewing cherry blossoms.

Photo: Maruoka Castle in spring (Maruoka Town)

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