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Travel Sakura Castle

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This article is in the series Walking the Japanese Castles
Sakura Castle (佐倉城 Sakura-jō) is located in the city of Sakura in Chiba Prefecture and was constructed on the 30-meter-high Kashima plateau. Due to its elaborate use of the natural topography, it was an impregnable location surrounded by marshes and rivers.

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The map is based on Google Earth. The location of enclosures or others are my speculation, so they may not be correct.

Built on the unfinished remains of Kashima Castle that had been started by the Chiba clan in the Sengoku Period, Doi Toshikatsu (土井利勝, 1573-1644), a high-ranking official in the Tokugawa shogunate and advisor to the second shogun, Hidetada, completed the castle in 1617 under the orders of Ieyasu himself. After that, it served as one of the vital defence lines of the capital Edo under several fudai daimyō (feudal lord in hereditary vassal to the Tokugawa family). Though none of the original structures remains, enclosures, ramparts and moats in the vast castle are well-maintained.

I went there by bus, which took about 5 minutes from Keisei-Sakura Station to “Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan iriguchi” (the entrance of the National Museum). You can also reach the castle grounds in a 20-minute walk. I entered the castle from the bus station. There was a huge moat in the vicinity of the entrance.

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I climbed up the short slope and walked along the side of the National Museum of Japanese History. It’s a site history buffs shouldn't miss, but I had to pass on as I was pressed for time.

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An excavation site close to the museum.

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The path was around the castle grounds was well-maintained and comfortable to tackle.

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The most impressive sight was the vast dry moats deeply carved into the hill, a formidable line of defence.

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The inner bailey: the three-storied castle towers was initially located at the corner.

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This is a historical picture of Ote Gate. There were several huge gates in the castle.

Date of visit: 19th May 2013

Access:

  • Address: Jounai-machi, Sakura-shi, Chiba (Map) 
  • Transportation: get off at "Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan Iriguchi" bus stop from Keisei Main line Keisei-Sakura station by bus, or 20 minutes walk
  • Other sights: the National Museum of Japanese History
    Sakura Town Walking Map (PDF, in Japanese and English)

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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