Archive for the 'Castle' Category

Okazaki Castle

Okazaki Castle's bridge

Okay, I’m not even supposed to write this now since I have a conjugation test in the next 2 days and I still haven’t studied for it. But I can’t concentrate anymore, so I thought I’ll write few paragraphs. Anyway, I have to say that I’ve been rather lucky during my trip here in Japan. I think it was a really good decision to go during Spring instead of Summer. Apparently there are many things to see and do almost every season in Japan. It’s just that they are different things to see and do. Having said that, I’ve always wanted to experience Hanami (flower watching) for a long time so I thought it’s better if I go around Spring time.

Anyway, if you do plan to go in Spring, make sure that you arrive between mid March to mid April. You’ll lose a chance to see the Sakura if you go afterwards. This is because the flowers constantly fall within this one month. So by the time it’s the middle of April, you don’t see them anymore. Maybe there will be one or two left in some areas but you’ll be hard-pressed to find it. I was quite lucky that I went to Okazaki Castle while the Sakura were still in full bloom. I’m sure the Castle will still be awesome even without the Sakura but the addition of Sakura all around it makes the Castle looks better.

Sakura-covered streetNight stallsRed Bridge
Okazaki Castle's lakeOkazaki Castle's lakeTurtle statue

Well, I started my trip using the bike that I just rented from a local bike shop. The Castle turned out to be quite far from the place where I stay. On top of this, I also ended up taking a wrong side at one point in the journey. Having said that, I have to say that I really enjoyed riding the bike while Sakura petals were blowing all around me. The photograph that I have here don’t really do any justice to the actual place. After asking some locals for directions, I eventually find the Castle itself. Bikes, however, are not allowed to go around the Castle area so I parked it a couple of meters away from the Castle.

The first few things that I saw around the area (apart from the Cherry Blossoms) are the various merchants trying to set up stalls for the night festival. I will write about this after I completed my exam but right now I just don’t have the time for it. Anyway, a short walk eventually took me to a red bridge that connects the outer area to the inner Castle surrounding itself. Once again, you have to be there to really see how good the view was. Everything in the area (the river, the bridge, the vegetation) seems to be perfect – as in an element nicely complements the other. As a result it wasn’t that difficult to take a good photograph of the place.

VegetationOkazaki Castle

After crossing the bridge, you’ll start to see more Food merchants inside the area as well. They’re selling everything from bite-sized cookies to Takoyaki. The Castle itself sits neatly at the top of the area so I thought it’d be nice to get a good shot of it. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any good angle of the Castle. But if you’re interested to see what the entire Castle looks like, just click on the last image that I placed on this entry. I didn’t take that photograph myself. It was actually an image of the castle taken by someone else and framed inside the castle. I simply took a photo of the picture with my camera. No plagiarism was intended.

I decided to pay 200 Yen to enter the Castle. I am not sure if that was a good decision or not but I have to say that there wasn’t much to see inside the Castle itself. According to the folklore, the Castle was apparently built back in 1455 by the Saigo family. However, during the 16th century, the Saigo family yielded the Castle to Matsudaira Kiyoyasu, the 7th lord of the Matsudaira family, who will eventually become the grandfather of Lord Ieyasu. For 3 centuries, Okazaki Castle were honored as the birthplace of Ieyasu and the Tokugawa Shogunate. The Castle was guarded heavily by hereditary vassal daimyos who wield enormous power during their time.

WishSideCastleDragon statue

During the Meiji Restoration period, the feudal clans were abolished and in 1873-1874, Okazaki Castle itself was demolished, leaving only its moat and stone wall. In 1959, however, the triple-roof, five story Castle, as well as its annex and wellhouse were masterfully reconstructed according to the original model. Today, the castle is simply a museum for local and international visitors. It basically displays the history of the Castle as well as the city. If you’re interested, Okazaki is now known as the producer of fireworks materials. Okazaki is particularly famous of its Hanabi – fireworks (not to be confused with Hanami – which is flower watching) festival.

You can actually go all the way up to the fifth level of the Castle and get a view of the entire city. Unfortunately, there are bars around the area so it’s rather hard to enjoy the view when you feel as if you’re inside a prison. Nevertheless, I was quite happy with what I saw and I don’t think I will ever forget the experience of entering the Castle itself. It may have been refurbished to suit its new purpose as a museum. Having said that, I can still see traces of how the Castle may have been used back in the olden days. And of course, I did manage to snap tens of pictures around the area, which in itself made me quite happy.