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Tsuruga Castle
Aizuwakamatsu Castle (会津若松城 Aizu-Wakamatsu-jō), commonly referred to as Tsuruga Castle (鶴ヶ城 Tsuruga-jō), is a reconstruction of the original castle built by the Ashina clan (蘆名氏) in the fourteenth century. It was an important administrative centre in eastern Japan and the seat of the Aizu domain.

Constructed by Kurokawa Higashi, it was first known as Kurokawa Castle (黒川城 Kurokawa-jō). Date Masamune (伊達政宗, 1567-1636), one of the most powerful daimyō in the Tōhoku Region, conquered the castle in 1589 after waging war with the Ashina for many years. Date had to surrender the castle one year later, and in 1591, it was handed over to Gamō Ujisato (蒲生氏郷, 1556-1595), a daimyō of Christian faith, who had the castle reconstructed as a seven-storey structure. Damaged by an earthquake in 1611, Katō Akinari (加藤明成), Aizu daimyō from 1631 to 1643, had it rebuilt with five storeys in 1639.

During the Boshin War, the castle was damaged in the Battle of Aizu, when the pro-imperial forces of Satsuma and Chōshū besieged it for weeks. It was finally demolished by the new Meiji administration in 1874. In 1934, Aizuwakamatsu Castle was declared a national historic site, but it was not until 1965 that sufficient financial means had been gathered with the help of local residents to rebuild the castle on its original site.

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The mossy roof of Rinkaku
The castle, said to be the only one in Japan featuring a red roof, holds a museum depicting the history of the Aizu Domain and the Boshin War, with particular emphasis on the tragic fate of the famous Byakkotai unit. The castle grounds hold a “martial arts practice area” (Butokuden) as well as a traditional Japanese tea house named Rinkaku (茶室麟閣). Gamō Ujisato was also a famed tea master and head of Sen-no Rikyū‘s seven disciples. When Sen-no Rikyū was sentenced to death by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉) for treason, Gamō protected his second son Sen Shōan (千少庵) from persecution, thus preserving the Rikyū style of the Japanese tea ceremony. Rinkaku was constructed by Sen Shōan. In 1872, it was moved to Tonami (砺波) in present-day Toyama Prefecture in the course of Aizu’s abolition but was eventually moved back to Aizuwakamatsu in the 1990s.

More images in the Tsuruga Castle album.

Access & admission:


You can easily reach Tsuruga Castle by Aizu City Bus (A27 or H14 station, “Tsurugajō-iriguchi”). Please refer to our Aizuwakamatsu page for more information on transportation.

Admission: 500 JPY for adults, including entrance to Rinkaku, 400 JPY without Rinkaku; 150 JPY for children.

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