The seaside castle known as the Dancing Crane is the centerpiece of Saga Prefecture’s city of Karatsu. It is also known as “Maizuru Castle” because the castle resembles the head of a crane, and the curving coastline resembles a crane spreading its wings. This hilltop castle is a popular tourist attraction in the area, offering stunning views of the city and its surroundings.
One of the standout features of Karatsu Castle is its observation deck, which provides visitors with a 360-degree view of the city. From here, you can see the beautiful coastline, the lush Japanese garden surrounding the castle, and the abundance of cherry blossoms and wisteria that bloom around the castle in spring. It’s a breathtaking sight that attracts many visitors, especially during the cherry blossom season.
To get to Karatsu Castle, you have two options. From Karatsu Station, you can either take a five-minute cab ride or walk for about 20 minutes. The walk is a pleasant one, as you can enjoy the scenery along the way. However, if you prefer a quicker option, a cab ride is the way to go.
One unique feature of Karatsu Castle is that part of the fortress rises directly out of the water. This water castle design is only seen in a few other castles in japan. The castle was completed in 1608 and originally had no keep. However, it was rebuilt in 1966 and is now a museum showcasing the remnants of the domain’s samurai past. Visitors can explore the museum and see displays of armor and weaponry from that era.
The castle’s history goes back several centuries. It played a significant role in the region’s history and witnessed many battles and conflicts. The castle was originally built by the Terasawa clan in the late 16th century but was later taken over by the Matsura clan. It served as the Matsura clan’s stronghold and played a crucial role in defending the region.
During the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century, many castles in Japan were dismantled or destroyed. However, Karatsu Castle managed to survive, albeit in a dilapidated state. It was later restored and turned into a museum to preserve its historical significance.
As you explore the museum, you’ll learn about the castle’s history and the samurai who once inhabited it. The displays include various artifacts, such as swords, armor, and other items used by the samurai. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the past and offers a deeper understanding of the region’s history.
Aside from its historical significance, Karatsu Castle is also a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing. In spring, the castle and its surroundings are transformed into a sea of pink as the cherry blossoms bloom. Many locals and tourists gather here to enjoy hanami (flower viewing) parties and take part in traditional Japanese customs.
The castle’s location by the sea adds to its charm. The coastal views are stunning, and visitors can take leisurely walks along the shoreline. The sound of the waves crashing against the rocks creates a serene atmosphere that complements the castle’s beauty.
In addition to the castle itself, the city of Karatsu has much to offer. It is known for its pottery, and visitors can explore the local kilns and shops to admire and purchase traditional Karatsu-yaki ceramics. The city also hosts various festivals throughout the year, including the Karatsu Kunchi Festival, which is designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan.
Overall, Karatsu Castle, with its rich history, breathtaking views, and cultural significance, is a must-visit destination in Saga Prefecture. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or traditional Japanese culture, this seaside castle has something for everyone. So, make sure to add it to your itinerary when exploring the region.
Address And Maps Location:
8-8-1 Higashijonai, Karatsu-shi, Saga-ken