Japan’s oldest surviving keep of a valuable castle from the Sengoku Era
From the ancient times to the modern era, there have been more than 25,000 castles built in Japan, but only 12 of them have surviving keeps. Maruoka Castle is an especially valuable castle in that it has the oldest surviving tower that has earned its status as a National Important Cultural Property. The castle’s history began during the Sengoku Era in 1576 in preparation for the Ikkoshu Uprising. The castle changed hands over generations until 1871 at the end of the Tokugawa Era when it was finally abandoned. The exterior has 2 levels although the interior has 3 floors with the steep stairs being rather difficult to go up without the need of a rope. You can observe features such as the iwaotoshi holes in the walls which are symbolic of a Sengoku Era castle in terms of preventing invaders from easily breaching the area. As well, you can also view the stone walls which have remained from the castle’s establishment and the tiled roof built from stone which is resistant to the severe cold of the snow in Fukui Prefecture. It is not a particularly large castle, but it is a deeply fascinating one where you can sense the feeling of an ancient Sengoku Era castle everywhere.
Enjoy seasonal events such as the Sakura Festival and a Festival of the Ages
During the most brilliant season of cherry blossoms, 400 cherry trees blossom all at once within the grounds of Maruoka Castle. This scenery which has the ancient castle clad in pale pink blossoms reminiscent of a spring fog has been selected as one of the Top 100 Famous Places for Cherry Blossoms. In an average year, the Maruoka Castle Sakura Festival is held from April 1st to April 20th when 300 paper lanterns are lit up at night. Maruoka Castle with its own illumination and the light from the lanterns provides an especially special scenery during this period. In addition, there is the Kojo (Ancient Castle) Festival which is held during the 3-day long weekend in October. The area comes alive with a parade and dance with citizens garbed in period costumes, a festival float procession with mechanical dolls and other activities so that you can enjoy a breathtaking festival with history and traditions only found in a castle town that has survived from the Sengoku Era.