Tsuruga Castle - Aizu Wakamatsu city, Fukushima
Famed for an intense, month-long siege by government forces during the Boshin Civil War in 1868, Tsuruga Castle holds a special place in Japanese history. The original castle was demolished in the early Meiji period (1868-1912), but its replacement accurately replicates the appearance of the main tower, right down to its white walls and distinctive red roof tiles.
Tsuruga Castle justified its reputation for being impregnable by holding out even when surrounded by 10,000 soldiers of the newly formed Meiji government and bombarded by about 2,500 shells in a single day. Eventually, the trapped forces loyal to the Tokugawa shogunate surrendered and the castle fell. A few years later, the badly damaged castle was demolished, although its stone walls were left in place. The main tower standing today is a reinforced-concrete replica built in 1965 based on documents including photos taken before the castle was torn down. In 2001, a turret and the Nagaya long corridor connecting it to the main tower were reconstructed using techniques and methods from the Edo period (1603-1867).
Tsuruga Castle is the only one in Japan that has a main tower with red roof tiles. The replica initially had black tiles, but these were replaced in 2011 to recreate the original appearance. The red tiles, which once were quite common on Japanese castles, have an iron glaze that enables them to withstand the Tohoku region’s bitter winter cold.
The main tower’s observation platform offers spectacular views of the surrounding area, including the many cherry trees that blossom each spring.
While the original castle is no more, one of its Edo-period structures has survived. Before the castle was demolished, a small three-story building from the castle was relocated to nearby Amidaji Temple, where it still stands today.