A famous castle with the country’s highest stone walls
Marugame Castle is also known as Kameyama Castle since it is a hill castle which is situated on the 66m-high Kameyama, and is even called the Castle of Stone due to its high stone walls on the top of a small mountain. The 60-meter stone walls are the highest in Japan. And because of the height of those walls, the castle has also been selected as one of the Top 100 Castles in Japan. Chikamasa Ikoma, the feudal lord of Sanuki Province, erected Takamatsu Castle as the main castle in 1597 and Marugame Castle as the branch castle which has had a long history of over 400 years.
The smallest existing wooden keep in Japan
The castle keep is the oldest structure of its kind in Shikoku, and is a surviving three-level three-floored keep which was completed in 1660 during the Edo Era. It is 15 meters high utilizing karahafu and chidori hafu styles and covered in plaster, and is also known as the smallest existing wooden keep in Japan. Inside the keep, the history of Marugame Castle, portraits of generations of the feudal lords and other exhibits are on display. Aside from the keep, the Ote Ichino Gate, the Ote Nino Gate, the castle’s front gate, the guard house and the nagaya row house still survive of which the keep and the Ote Ichino and Ote Nino Gates have been registered as National Important Cultural Properties.
Highlights of Marugame Castle
The Ote Ichino Gate has the dignity and personality of a major main gate, and the truly distinctive masugata rectangular space within the castle grounds used to amass troops for dispatch is of a large size that cannot be seen anywhere else. The gate is also called the Taiko Gate since a taiko drum by the gate was struck by warriors to signal the time. Even now, a drum is struck daily at noon, and the inner grounds of the castle are opened to the public in tandem with this time drum. Features including old drums and defensive ishiotoshi emplacements can be observed. The 4-layer stone walls which span from the inner moat to the keep soar 60 meters (No. 1 in Japan), and above the 20m level, they continue as castle walls whose distinctive curves take on a fan-like slope. From the Tsukimi Watchtower in the Sannomaru Plaza, you can get a wonderful view of the Doki River and Mt. Iino. Japan’s deepest well is located in the outer citadel and is said to have a secret passage.