One of Japan’s Oldest Castle Towers, Surrounded by Hundreds of Cherry Blossoms
Maruoka Castle dates back to 1576, and is one of only twelve original castle towers remaining in Japan today. In early and mid April, the castle celebrates its Cherry Blossom Festival. Some 400 cherry blossom trees bloom in the surrounding park, and paper lanterns light the stone stairs and paths at night. From certain angles, the cherry blossoms hide the castle’s foundation, making it appear to “float” above the trees.
The castle was built by Shibata Katsutoyo (d. 1583) as a base to rule the region from. Though fairly small, it served as a fortress for hundreds of years, until Emperor Meiji (1852–1912) abolished castles nationwide as a remnant of the feudal system in the 1870s.
Visitors can step inside the castle and see its centuries-old wooden construction, or visit the nearby museum dedicated to the history of the castle. In the evenings, the castle is lit up with projection mapping.