Marugame Castle: Japan’s Highest Stone Walls & “Cute” Keep!

When thinking about Marugame, Kagawa prefecture, the first thing that comes to mind is probably udon noodles and honetsukidori (grilled on the bone chicken thigh). However, this time we will be introducing a castle with over 400 years of history.

The construction of Marugame Castle began in the last hour of the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1558-1600). What makes the castle so amazing is its stone walls, which are the highest within Japan!  At around 60 meters tall, these manmade walls are about the height of a 20-storey building.
Well then, let’s head to the castle keep and admire its famous stone walls along the way!

 

 

I climb up “Mikaeri-saka”, a steep hill that’s best not to try tackling by bicycle unless you’re a serious challenger like the person in the photograph!

How about that?! Such a beautiful curve, don’t you think?  Called ” Ougi no Kobai” (the “fan curve”), the curvaceous beauty of the stone walls is one of the highlights of Marugame Castle.

 

Presenting gracefully whatever the season, in winter they are lit up, while in the spring cherry blossoms accent the walls.

 

 

If you take a very close look at the walls, here and there you can find carved seals, which reveal the name of the person who laid the stone, as well as the area it was from. Kinda cute!

After taking several breaks along the way, I finally reach the castle keep! As part of its role was to keep guard over the Seto Inland Sea, it offers very good views.

 

When compared to the size of the people in the photo, you can see that the keep is really quite small and cute. One of only 12 original castle keeps left in Japan, thanks to its small size it evaded demolition.

 

 

On the subject of cuteness; take a look at the castle ornamentation. The design of the traditional patterns resembling heart shapes, and the emblem (four squares within a circle) of the Kyogoku clan, who were the daimyo of Marugame castle, are really lovely.

Visitors can enter the keep, but as the structure retains its original form, there are of course no elevators!

 

As the top floor offers a distant view of the Great Seto Bridge, I wonder if the lords, too, would sometimes come here to look over the Seto Inland Sea and the Sanuki Plain?!
Around the castle there are plenty spots that we recommend visiting, such as museums, udon shops and honetsukidori restaurants. You’re sure to have fun even if you’re not a fan of castles!

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Marugame Castle
Location: Ichiban-cho, Marugame city, Kagawa prefecture
Open:
Castle keep: 9AM – 4.30 PM (entrance until 4 PM)
First Front Gate: 10AM – 3.30 PM
Closed:
Castle keep: Open every day (May be closed on occasion due to inspections or to switch exhibitions)
First Front Gate: On rainy days & every Wednesday
Tel: 0877-22-0331 (Marugame city tourist association)
Admission: Adults JPY200, Children (elementary and middle school students) JPY100
http://www.city.marugame.kagawa.jp/sightseeing/spot/01.html (Japanese)
http://www.city.marugame.kagawa.jp/english/tourism/ (some information in English)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Izumi Furukawa

 

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Izumi Furukawa

Izumi Furukawa

Izumi Furukawa Hello. My name is Izumi Furukawa and I was born in Kagawa Prefecture. Before getting married in 2012, I wrote for various magazine companies and Internet based media organizations in Tokyo. After marrying, I moved to Hiroshima and am now raising my child as well as writing stories about my fascination with this area through Setouchi Finder. Most of the articles I write are about places I visit on weekends with my family. My favorite driving course is Route 375 from Saijyo to the Miyoshi Area, and my favorite food from the Hiroshima area is Anagomeshi (from Miyajima)!!

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