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Travel Miharu Castle

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This article is in the series Walking the Japanese Castles
Miharu Castle (三春城) is located in Miharu-machi in the Abukuma Mountains, 10km east of Koriyama in Fukushima Prefecture. Being an old castle town, Miharu has many temples and a picturesque town centre held in traditional Japanese style.

The castle lies on a hill called Shiroyama and faces the eastern boroughs of the town. Almost none of the original buildings survived, only the Hanko Gate (Hanko was a school founded by the Tamura clan) is still on display at the entrance to Miharu elementary school.

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During the Edo Period (1600-1868) the residence of the daimyō was situated on the grounds of the current elementary school.

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I was climbing the hill from there.

The inner bailey (本丸 honmaru) and the ni-no-maru (二の丸, second circle or compound) were located on the crest of the hill.

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Ni-no-maru

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Honmaru

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Regrettably, there are few original structures like turrets or stone walls remaining; the view, however, was splendid.

On the day of our visit a historical parade was held, in which locals in various costumes from the Heian Era to modern times, including a military commander, a soldier and a court lady, participated.

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During the Sengoku Period, the Tamura clan (田村氏) governed the region and founded Miharu Castle in 1504. It is said that the famous Sei-i Taishōgun (征夷大将軍, "Barbarian‐subduing Generalissimo") Sakanoue no Tamuramaro (坂上田村麻呂, 758-811) had been their ancestor.

The most famous person in the Tamura clan might be...

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... Megohime (愛姫, also known as Yoshihime, 1568-1653), the wife of Date Masamune, one of the most eminent warlords in the Tohoku area.

The Tamura clan was attainted in Toyotomi Hideyoshi's so-called Ōshū Shioki (奥州仕置, punitive action against the Tohoku warlords), but Megohime bestowed her family name onto one of her sons to preserve the clan. The castle was then handed over to Gamo Ujisato, then the ruler of Aizu. After the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate, the Gamo was relocated to Shikoku, while Katō Yoshiaki (加藤嘉明, 1563-1631) was posted from Aizu to Miharu. In 1627, Yoshiaki separated the area around Miharu Town and created a small domain (of 30,000 koku) for his son Katō Akitoki. Just a year later the local peasants revolted against the rule of the Katō, and the domain was placed under the control of Matsushita Nagatsuna (松下長綱), the ruler of the neighbouring fief of Nihonmatsu. Demoted to hatamoto in 1644, Miharu was transferred from the Matsushita to Akita Toshisue (秋田俊季, 1598-1649). The Akita, originally Dewa landlords, held Miharu until the abolition of the domain system in 1871.

Date of visit: 5th May 2013

Access Information
  • Address: Ohmachi Miharu-machi Tamura-gun Fukushima Map
  • Transportation: 30 minutes from JR Ban-etsu East line Miharu station on foot
    4km from Ban-etsu Expwy Funehiki-Miharu IC via National Route 288
  • Other sights: Miharu History and Folk Museum
    Miharu-machi Sightseeing Map (in Japanese)


Map:

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Hiroto Uehara
Hiroto is an ordinary Japanese office worker, but his true mission is searching for castles on the weekend.

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