Nara and it’s Lesser Known Koriyama Castle
Located in Yamatokoriyama City, Nara Prefecture is Koriyama Castle (郡山城).
The origins of this castle date back to 1162! in 1580 Tsutsui Junkei and Oda Nobunaga built what became Koriyama Castle by strengthening a smaller fort. Toyotomi Hidenaga later became the lord of Koriyama Castle and added several new structures to the castle.
At the time, there weren’t enough stones to build the castle wall, so Hidenaga used stones from nearby temples, taking them from gravestones, gardens, and even Buddhist images. This may not sound like a very good thing, but Hidenaga also did a lot of good for the city, such as bringing markets from Nara to Yamato to transform it into a modern city.
Koriyama Castle had two more lords after Hidenaga, before being finally taken over by Yanagisawa Yoshisato. The Yanagisawa family then took care of the castle up until the Meiji Restoration.
It was during the Meiji Restoration that the castle’s main building was completely destroyed. Only the stone walls and moat remained after the damage. All of the gates, keeps and houses on the grounds were later reconstructed in the 20th century.
There’s a castle festival (大和郡山お城まつり) every year from around the end of March to early April. In 2015, it will already be the 55th festival, so you can see it has quite a history and tradition.
Like most castles, spring is by far the best time to visit. There are food stands everywhere and the castle grounds have hundreds of cherry blossom trees, but even if you can’t make it in spring, Koriyama is a great stop while visiting Nara.
One of the reasons spring remains the best time to visit is because the castle grounds have been turned into a public park. This park has been chosen as one of the “100 Best Hanami Spots in Japan” and it is so deserving of this title!
The park itself is very spacious and during the cherry blossom season, it’s beautiful. Walking along the moat, you’ll get views of the castle walls all surrounded by fluffy pink sakura trees.
As you wander along, be sure to try to spot “Sakasajizo”. As mentioned before, the stones used to build the castle walls were taken from nearby temples and even jizo statues found themselves being used as part of the wall.
Sakasajizo is a jizo statue that was put into the castle wall upside down, so see if you can find him while you explore!
Address: Yamato Koriyama, Nara
[post by Beth]
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