Monday, April 11, 2011

Castle ruins with cherry blossoms

about 100-year-old weeping cherry tree, remaining stone walls and a moat, a reconstructed turret

Kooriyama Castle was built in the 16th century.  After Tutui Junkei defeated his long-term enemy Matsunaga Hisahide in 1580, he moved to Koriyama and built Koriyama Castle by strengthening fortifications which already existed there.  In 1587, Toyotomi Hidenaga moved into the castle and upgraded it to a large scale castle. The castle was held by various different feudal lords one after another till 1724 when Yanagisawa Yoshisato became the lord of Koriyama domain.  The Yanagisawa clan continued to rule till Meiji Restoration (1868).  During the governing system transition from feudal lords to prefecture's governors,  the lord of the domain declared no reconstruction of the buildings which were burnt down to ashes in 1858.  New Meiji government accepted it and the remaining gates and turrets were sold and taken away by being put out to tender.  Stone walls and moats alone were left.  After a long time, Otte-mon Gate and two yagura (turrets) were reconstructed in 1983, 1984 and 1987 respectively. 

Usually I prefer imagining the glory of the past in the ruins to seeing the reconstructed.  But at this place reconstruction is not bad, on the contrary, they create lovely scenes surrounded by cherry blossoms.

Castles were the residences of lords, as well as centers of political and economic activities.  At that era, lord built castles on higher ground to defend themselves from the enemy.   The layout of a castle was planned so as to withstand enemy attack surrounded by outer and inner moats and high stone walls, equipped with gunports and stone-dropping ports at strategic points, and with tenshu (dungeon) at its center.

upper part of the gate

 Ottemon Gate (1983)

entrance to Yanagisawa Shrine (1880)

The current cherry blossoms were planted when Yanagisawa Shrine was founded.  Koriyama Castle is one of the top 100 scenic sites for cherry blossoms viewing.

This is my favorite place.  Only nature, stone walls, and moats witnessed the fleeting prosperity of each feudal lord.

I had though that I couldn’t enjoy myself at this time when the nation is in the crisis for the first time after WWII and Tohoku people are suffering the most, but I think I enjoyed..., not the same as usual but being more thankful, finding more pleasures, and feeling inspiration, consolation, and calm energy radiated by the cherry blossoms.

Life goes on no matter what happens.......

Visit My World to learn  more about our world!


  1. The photos are so beautiful with the cherry trees in bloom.

  2. Kirei!!! I wouldn't be able to go to a Hanami festival there so thank you for sharing your wonderful photos...For me sakura and ume doesn't represent just spring this year, they sprung with hope for the Japanese people.

    Hajimemashite! - Mirage desu! -ViennaDaily

  3. this post is wonderful. hope everything is getting better in your world.

  4. Superb photos, wonderful history and a terrific post for the day. I, too, hope things are improving in your world. Thanks for sharing the beauty!


  5. I love your beautiful picture-series!
    I've been to Japan in 2006 but not in time for the cherry-blossom season. Nevertheless, I am very much impressed and awed by what I saw in Japan. I hope to go back again with my husband.
    I continue to pray for the speedy recovery of your country.

    Inside Cambodia

  6. The castle looks majestic looking over the ancient cherry tree. I imagine it would be very soothing and reassuring when seeing the original stonewalls and moats. Although reconstruction of historical buildings is appreciated, it is always awe-inspiring to see what survives over time.

    There is also symbolism in your last photo. It gives hope to see a tiny branch with pretty blossoms emerge like a miracle from the wrinkled old bark of tree. :)

  7. I so enjoyed reading the history of this castle. I, too, feel "inspiration, consolation, and calm energy radiated by the cherry blossoms." Nature continues in its cycle and offers healing where there is loss. Your photos are wonderful.

  8. Hi,Stardust.
    So beautiful place.
    This is one of my favorite cathles. The view from the garden of the castle is lovely. The stone walls is noticable. Going through the entrance of Yanagisawa shrine, there is a quaint house of Yanagisawa.I love it too.

    With believing Japan's strong recovery and rebirth.

  9. Superb shots, Hope all is well at your end.

  10. Wow - fabulous shots! A lovely reconstruction... So glad the sakura blossoms are giving hope and energy to Japan.

  11. This place is breathtaking and your photos are stunning!

  12. Your last photo is so appropriate...a lovely new spring growth from the tree's dark and barren bark. Japan too will renew and reblossom. I love the photo of the draping cherry blossoms over the stone wall and moat. Lovely post!

  13. The pics do tell a story, very very beautiful... The blossoms and the castle look absolutely fantastic!!
    Have a nice day:)

  14. 確かに、いろんなものに対する感謝の気持ちは、以前より強く実感するようになりました。いつも印象的な写真と文章をありがとうございます。

  15. I visited the castle without knowing well about history. Your post helped me to get to know about it, in addition to my pleasure to see these nice photos.

  16. My beloved friend
    Thank you for so beautiful pictures!!!!
    The castle, the stones and flowering cherry trees, is an excellent picture, bringing consolation to the soul!
    You're a wonderful people who will soon, find your pace!
    With great love and friendship

  17. Personally I also prefer ruins to the completely reconstructed. They tell a lot, stirring my imagination to make up for what was missing, though I know restoring and preserving the historical architecture is an important task as well.
    Cherry blossoms really match the castle. They make one of beautiful sceneries that Japan is proud of.

  18. WOW! So beautiful! I've never been to Kooriyama Castle. I especially love the first and sixth photos. Don't you think Matsunaga Danjyo Hisahide was a very interesting person? I'd think he must have burned down Todaiji-temple.

    What you mentioned about cherry blossoms is so true. Thanks so much for sharing these lovely photos and the history of the castle.

  19. These are quite spectacular. Thank you for sharing the history of the place as well as the beauty. Nature can be healing. We all need to find places of peace.

  20. Thank you, everyone. Each comment from you is really appreciated and is special to me.

    I didn't include this story about stone walls: since Nara doesn't produce stones, stones were confiscated from temple gardens including stone "jizo" statues and gravestones.

    Sapphire, what I know about Matsunaga Hisahide is that he is an eminent example of "gekokujo" (inferiors overthrowing their superiors), but I've found he's a very interesting person as you wrote. I'm not sure if he surely burnt down Todai-ji as is generally known. Truth could lie in untold place.


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