Time for tea and leisure on the grounds of japan‘s only red-and-white castle
Tsuruga Castle, also known as Wakamatsu Castle, is a historic landmark located in Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. This magnificent castle has a rich history that spans almost seven hundred years, and it has been rebuilt several times throughout the centuries. Originally constructed by the feudal lord Ashina Naomori in the 14th century, Tsuruga Castle has witnessed numerous battles, political changes, and cultural transformations.
One of the highlights of visiting Tsuruga Castle is the breathtaking view from the top of the castle tower. As you ascend the steep stairs and reach the summit, you will be rewarded with a panoramic vista of the surrounding landscape. From this vantage point, you can see the majestic mountains that encircle Aizuwakamatsu, as well as the city’s charming streets and traditional Japanese houses. It is truly a sight to behold and a perfect spot for taking memorable photographs.
After enjoying the view, you can explore the various exhibitions within the castle. These exhibitions provide a glimpse into the history and culture of Aizuwakamatsu and its samurai heritage. One of the highlights is the exhibit about Tsuruga Castle itself, which showcases the castle’s architectural features, including its walls and moats. Additionally, there are displays of samurai artifacts such as swords and armor, offering insights into the lifestyle and traditions of the samurai warriors who once inhabited the castle.
Adjacent to Tsuruga Castle is the Tsuruga Castle Park, a beautifully manicured garden that surrounds the castle. The park is particularly stunning during the cherry blossom season in April when the cherry trees bloom in vibrant shades of pink and white. Walking through the park during this time feels like stepping into a fairytale, with the delicate petals floating in the air and creating a magical atmosphere. It is the perfect setting for a leisurely stroll or a peaceful picnic under the cherry blossoms.
Within Tsuruga Castle Park, you will find the Rinkaku Teahouse, a traditional Japanese teahouse that offers a tranquil oasis amidst the bustling city. Step inside and be transported back in time to the era of the feudal lords who once frequented this teahouse for their tea ceremonies. The teahouse itself is a masterpiece of traditional Japanese architecture, with sliding doors, tatami floors, and paper lanterns casting a soft glow. Sit down and savor a cup of green tea, enjoying the serene ambiance and the moment of tranquility in this historic setting.
One of the unique features of Tsuruga Castle is its striking red tile roof. Unlike most Japanese castles, which have black or gray roofs, Tsuruga Castle stands out with its vibrant red tiles. This color choice was not accidental but rather a deliberate decision made in 2011 to restore the castle’s original appearance from the end of the Edo period. The red roof, combined with the white walls, creates a striking contrast and gives the castle a sense of elegance and grandeur.
Aside from its historical and architectural significance, Tsuruga Castle is also a venue for various events and festivals throughout the year. One notable event is the Aizu Painted Candle Festival, which takes place in the park surrounding the castle. During this festival, the park is illuminated by thousands of beautifully decorated candles, creating a magical and romantic atmosphere. It is a sight that should not be missed if you happen to visit Aizuwakamatsu during this time.
If you have more time to spare, consider visiting the Fukushima Prefectural Museum, which is located near Tsuruga Castle. This museum offers a deeper understanding of Japan’s history, including its samurai heritage and the events that shaped the region. The museum features a permanent exhibition that showcases artifacts and historical documents, as well as temporary exhibits that change regularly, ensuring there is always something new to discover.
To reach Tsuruga Castle, you can take a bus, ride a bicycle, or simply walk from Aizu-Wakamatsu Station. If you are coming from Tokyo, the most convenient way is to take the JR Tohoku Shinkansen to Koriyama and then transfer to a train bound for Aizu-Wakamatsu Station. From there, it is a short distance to the castle, and you can easily navigate your way on foot or by bicycle. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Aizu-Wakamatsu Station to Tsurugajo Kitaguchi bus stop, which is located near the castle.
In conclusion, Tsuruga Castle is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts, architecture lovers, and nature admirers. Its rich history, stunning architecture, and picturesque surroundings make it a truly unique and memorable attraction in Japan. Whether you are exploring the exhibitions within the castle, enjoying the cherry blossoms in the park, or sipping tea in the traditional teahouse, Tsuruga Castle offers a glimpse into Japan’s feudal past and provides a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. So, take some time to visit this remarkable castle and immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquility of Aizuwakamatsu. You won’t be disappointed.
Address And Maps Location:
1-1 Ote-machi, Aizuwakamatsu-shi, Fukushima-ken