Have you ever dreamed of living in a castle? Do you enjoy learning about the history of Japan? For history buffs as well as curious tourists, Morioka Castle, in the central part of the city of Morioka, is the perfect place to be.
The once three-story castle started to be constructed near the end of the Sengoku period (1467 – 1603) in approximately 1598. The Nanbu clan ruled over the Morioka domain in the Mutsu province, where the castle was being built. While It was not completed until 1633. In 1634, however, the keep burned down and was never rebuilt. By 1874, during the Meiji period (a time of great change in Japan) most of the structures in the castle were torn apart.
In 1906, the area for the ruins was renamed Iwate Park. It was designed by a garden architect named Yahusei Nagaoka. As there are many gardens and sakura blossoms in the area, Iwate Park is a common spot for people in Morioka to do hanami (cherry blossom viewing) in the spring.
The Nanbu clan kindly donated the area to the city of Morioka in 1934. In 2006, one hundred years after the park was open to the public, the castle was deemed one of the finest castles in Japan by the Japan Castle Foundation. This park is open to the public 24 hours a day with no admission.
The park is full of captivating gardens, rivers, and much more. To the west of the fascinating ruins is the Kitakami River and to the east is the Nakatsu. There is a red painted bridge connecting two large enclosures. This beauty, as well as the multiple shrines throughout the park, attracts many visitors. One of the greatest views in the park is a large wall made with white granite. It stands out against the usual dark colours of other castles.
Many castles around the world have crumbled into ruins. How many can you say have been repurposed to include a breath-taking park? Morioka Castle has beautiful scenery and rich history. What’s not to love?