The castle that defeated the Tokugawa army twice
Located in the eastern Nagano castle town of Ueda is stunning Ueda Castle and its park. Filled with history and incredible scenic views, the park and its impressive fortress are worth a visit any time of year.
Ueda Castle Park is a 12-minute walk from Ueda Station, making it an easy place to access by foot locally and by train from the neighboring city of Nagano. From Nagano, the trip to Ueda Station is 12 minutes on the Hokuriku-Shinkansen. Alternatively, you can take the Shinetsu Main Line or Shinano Railway, both of which have direct connections from Nagano in about 45 minutes. The trip from Tokyo Station to Ueda is one hour and 30 minutes on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line.
Take a trip back in time to 16th-century japan
Ueda Castle was built in the 16th century by the leaders of the Sanada samurai clan. These tough warriors are famed for repelling the nation-building Tokugawas, not once but twice. Following the battles, some of the castle was rebuilt in the 17th century, but it was never completed. Today, Ueda Castle’s stone walls, three turrets, and the restored East Gate tower over the city.
Visit shrines and enjoy local snacks
There are two shrines in the park, and it is a peaceful spot to wander and contemplate the history that transpired in the castle’s shadow. You can pick up a couple of oyaki, Japanese-style savory dumplings, which are a Nagano specialty. They come with a variety of fillings, such as winter squash and spicy eggplant.
Meet a friendly samurai and join the samurai festival
A welcoming committee of samurai patrol the grounds, posing for photos and occasionally breaking into martial arts demonstrations. Check out the park’s Ueda City Museum for samurai artifacts and other displays about the region. In April, the park hosts the local Ueda Sanada Festival in honor of the city’s famous warrior clan. Hundreds join a procession in period costumes. The entertainment includes taiko drumming and impressive replica gun artillery demonstrations around the castle area.
A number of events take place on the castle grounds throughout the year, including craft fairs or music festivals. Check with the Ueda Tourist Information Center for exact dates.
Around one thousand cherry trees in bloom
Ueda Castle Ruins Park is spectacular in the spring when its groves of cherry trees come into bloom. In early April, the park hosts the Ueda Castle Sen-Bon Sakura Matsuri, or Uedajo Castle 1,000 Sakura Festival. Enjoy hanami (cherry blossom viewing) around the park or nighttime hanami beneath the lit-up trees.
Festivals and performances at Ueda Castle
Noh drama performances run around August in Ueda City and Noh masks are exhibited at the Ueda City Museum on the castle grounds. In late September, the park pulses with an exciting taiko drumming festival featuring scores of talented drummers. During autumn, the Uedajo Castle Autumn Leaves Festival celebrates the transformation of the park’s many Japanese maple trees, which turn fiery shades of red and gold.
Ueda Castle and its park offer a glimpse into Japan’s rich history and cultural heritage. The castle’s role in repelling the Tokugawa army and its stunning architecture make it a must-visit destination. The park’s cherry blossoms and autumn foliage add to its beauty and provide a serene atmosphere for visitors. Whether you’re interested in samurai history, traditional festivals, or simply enjoying the natural beauty of Japan, Ueda Castle and its park are sure to captivate your imagination.
Address And Maps Location:
6263 Ninomaru, Ueda-shi, Nagano-ken