Marugame castle

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  • Japanese:丸亀城(Marugame-jou)
  • Type:Flatland-Mountain
  • Founder:Ikoma Chikamasa
  • Year:

Located in Marugame City in Kagawa Prefecture (the historical Sanuki province), Marugame castle had its beginnings in the early Muromachi period as fortifications built by the Nara clan (retainers of the Hosokawa clan). In 1587, Ikoma Chikamasa received Sanuki as his fief and built Takamatsu castle as his center of power. He gave control of Marugame castle to his son, Kazumasa, in 1597.

Kazumasa began working on improving the fortifications and built a series of ishigaki that rivaled the ones later seen at Kumamoto. The Ikoma clan fell on hard times in 1600 when they found themselves on the losing side at the Battle Of Sekigahara. It was decided to abandon Marugame castle in 1615 when the shogunate issued its ‘one castle per province’ edict. Many of the buildings were destroyed or fell apart from neglect. Yamazaki Ieuji was given Sanuki in 1641 as a reward for his heroism during the 1638 Shimabara Rebellion and chose to move his headquarters to Marugame. He began work on rebuilding and restoring the castle and the work was completed in 1644. The castle was not to remain his for long, being handed over to the Kyôgoku clan in 1658. The family rebuilt the Ôtemmon complex (the Oteichinomon and the Ninomon) in 1670. The Kyôgoku remained in charge until the Imperial government took control of the castle at the end of the Meiji period. The castle was heavily damaged by fire in 1869 and many of the buildings were destroyed by the Meiji government in 1870. The castle tenshu (the existing one is the one built in 1644) was extensively renovated in 1950.

The castle is a hirayamajiro and was built on a hill about 66 meters tall with more of its complex located on the plain at the bottom. It is close to the north shore of Shikoku and can be seen from the Inland Sea. The ishigaki are among the largest ones still standing in Japan, and rise in three levels up the side of the hill. By contrast, the tiny tenshu (three interior/three exterior stories with traditional tile roofing) looks small in proportion to the walls. This represents the greater wealth and power of the Ikoma (who built the walls) in contrast to the Yamazaki clan (who were a poorer clan, and rebuilt it under strict shogunal regulations regarding castle repair).

Both the tenshu and the Ôtemmon complex have been named Important Cultural Properties by the Japanese government. In addition, there are other original small structures and parts of buildings located on the grounds.


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