|Remains of a Castle that Played a Central Offensive and
Defensive Role in the Violent Struggle to Unify the Nation
The ruins of Taga Castle are the remains of an ancient fortress located in Tagajo City, Miyagi Prefecture in the center of Tohoku, the northeastern part of Japan.
It is particularly important as a historic site because the site is in a good state of preservation. Along with the remains of Heijo-kyo in Nara and the Fortress of Dazaifu, in Fukuoka, in Kyushu, Taga Castle ranks as one of Japan's three noted historic sites. It is a National Special Historical Site.
Taga Castle was set up in the first half of the 8th century to expand direct control by the central government into the northern part of Japan. It was a military base, and became the center of administration and culture in the Tohoku region.
In 802, the front line shifted roughly 100 km (about 62 miles) further north to Isawa (present-day Mizusawa City, Iwate Prefecture), where another castle was built. Although Taga Castle retained its administrative functions, it was no longer the center for military activities. With its authority diminished, the Taga Castle slowly lost its importance.
Taga Castle was built on a hillside to take good advantage of the local topography. The precincts cover 102 ha (255 acres). At the center there was a 100-meter-square walled compound that contained old government office and around this were workshops and storehouses. The perimeter of the compound of an irregular rectangular shape measures 3.4 km (about 2.1 miles) and used to be surrounded by walls 5 m (5.5 yd.) high.
About a kilometer southeast of the ruins is the site of the temple that served the occupants of the castle. Near the southern front of the castle are the remains of what was a planned settlement.
At present, you can clearly see the restored foundations of the castle buildings at the site, which is maintained as a historical park. There is the Tohoku History Museum which has opened in autumn 1999.
Photos: Taga Castle Ruins (Miyagi Prefecture)
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