After seeing the Great Bridge of Seto, we headed straight to Marugame to see its castle.
I’m sure I’ll have other opportunities to tell you more about Marugame Castle. Just know that it is one of the few original remaining castles in Japan. As you may already know, Japanese castles are made of wood and don’t always withstand too well the strains of time (well, to be fair, a bunch of them used to be able to do that fine until the US almost razed the country in 1945). However, Japanese people have no problem doing what Europeans are more than reluctant to do with their ruined castles: they rebuild them identical.
This is not the case of Marugame Castle. Sure, some buildings are gone (burned fires or dismantled by order of the Emperor during the Meiji Restoration), but the ones that you can see date from 1644 (the original castle was built in 1597 but was later dismantled when a decree was passed by the Shogun to allow only one castle per province).
Pretty old indeed, and we you’re inside you feel that you’re not in your usual rebuilt castle full of concrete and steel.
Another particularity of this castle is that it may be (but don’t mark my words on it) the Japanese castle with the largest walls and the smallest main tower.
I’ll give you more details after my next visit (which strangely hasn’t happened yet), in the meantime, here are a few pictures.
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Really good castle.I searched this castle and knew that this stone wall is the highest in Japan. This is 60 meters high.Amazing.
Yes, climbing to the tower was quite an adventure in itself. 🙂
Hey David, oh. I never really thought about the fact that the castles fall to ruin because of their wood constuction.. I guess that’s because the ones i visited in Japan are SO WELL taken care of! that goes for the temples, too…. but, yeah, come to think of it, if the japanese weren’t so fastidious about the care of old buildings I guess they would decay! hmph. lived there allllll that time and never thought of it! cheers, Lash
Well, they don’t necessarily fall to ruin or decay because they’re made of wood, after all, parts of Horyuji in Nara are about 1300 years old! It’s just that wood is more prone to fire than stone. Not mentioning earthquakes.
It also comes from the Japanese concept of impermanence that I’m sure you’re familiar with. For example, with temples, they’re more concepts than anything else. The buildings are just physical representations of the concept. So very often as soon as the building gets too old, it’s destroyed and replaced by a more or less identical newer one, (most temples all over Japan have been rebuilt several times over the centuries).
Concerning castles, it’s a bit different, as they were lived in (hence more likely to burn), potentially targets of enemies during wars, and then abandoned during the Meiji restoration.
I assume (but this is just an assumption from my part (Kyushudan, if you read this and want to give us your two cents about it) that the rebuilding of castles is a quite recent phenomenon triggered by tourism, but maybe not as rebuilding is part of the culture.
Well, it’s a bit late but I’ve finally made it to the party.
Yeah, on the most part it’s tourism & the yen that it brings. I’ll also so that there is a sense of pride in a city or town’s history that plays a part in getting stuff rebuilt. Obviously this pride was non-existent a few generations prior, when they were being demolished, auctioned off or sections relocated during the Meiji restoration.
Last & most probably least is that some cities/town hope to gain a landmark/local symbol.
My two cents.
Hey, love the pics.
I like your two cents. 🙂
And worry not, my comment on your post in form of a post here is coming. I’ve been unexpectedly busy with other things today, but I may write it tonight (and I’m interested to know what is your take on my take 😉 ).