Also known as Kasumi-ga-jô (Mist Castle, so named for the legend that when it is threatened it becomes obscured by mist), Maruoka castle is located in Maruoka town in modern day Fukui prefecture (the historical Echizen province) on the Sea Of Japan coast. Construction was begun on the castle in 1575 by Shibata Katsutoyo, who had been ordered by his uncle, Shibata Katsuie, to establish himself at Toyohara castle, but who rebelled at the difficulties of constructing a yamashiro (mountain castle).
Over the next three centuries the castle was to see 17 lords and many different clans, including the Yasui, Aoyama (Aoyama Shurinsuke), Imamura, Honda (Honda Narishige), and Arima (Arima Kiyosumi). While little of historical import occurred at the castle, it is notable for having the oldest tenshu still extant in Japan (built in 1576).
Maruoka is a hirayamajiro built on a 33-meter high hill which housed the honmaru. The ishigaki were built of rough-hewn stones. It was encircled by a pentagonal moat system that was as wide as 11 meters. The moat served to divide the castle grounds into three more compounds that were arranged around the honmaru. The tenshu has two exterior and three interior stories and the unusual feature of having a banistered corridor surrounding the second exterior story just above the first story. Instead of using standard terracotta roof tiling, the tiles here were made of stone in order to stand up to the colder winter temperatures in this part of Japan. The superstructure of the castle was reinforced to withstand the additional weight. It is a good example of the earlier attempts at castle building, being basically a one-story structure with an additional belvedere set into the roof.
Today, only the tenshu and its stone walls remain. The castle was heavily damaged by an earthquake in 1948. As many of the original materials were salvaged as possible and restoration of the tenshu was completed in 1955.
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