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A castle befitting a ruler

About Azuchi Castle in Shiga Prefecture

Located on the approximately 200-meter tall Mt. Azuchi near the eastern shores of Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture, Azuchi Castle was said to be one of the greatest and most beautiful castles ever built. Today, only the stone walls and some foundations remain, but the scale of the castle can still be felt on the grounds.

Commissioned by the warlord Oda Nobunaga in 1576 and completed in a mere 3 years, the castle was built by skilled craftsmen and artisans from all over the country. Less of a defense castle, the concept of the magnificent Azuchi Castle and its castle town was more to be the center of culture and for the warlord to show off his position and power to his adversaries.

One of the most impressive structures of Azuchi Castle was the main castle tower, one of the first keeps in Japanese castle history. The massive 46 meter tall wooden structure had seven stories, one underground and six above ground. The top two floors were said to be lavishly decorated with gold, inlaid mother of pearl carvings and lacquered wood.

Written descriptions of the grandeur of Azuchi Castle were far and few, but one written by a Jesuit missionary who visited the castle described it as beautiful and lavishly decorated.

Nobunaga was killed in 1582, and his Azuchi Castle was burned to the ground not long after and was never rebuilt nor restored to its former glory. Today, visitors to the castle ruins can walk on the former castle grounds and see some of the excavated foundation stones. Not far from the ruins is Nobunaga no Yakata, a museum about the Azuchi Castle, where visitors can get a better idea of how the castle may have looked. The museum has a theater showing a virtual reality (VR) movie about the castle as well as a life sized production of how the top two floors may have looked liked based on available records. The 2-story structure was also exhibited at the 1992 Seville Expo.

Home Delivery by japan-guide.com is a series of articles on Japanese culture, life and travel for all of us who are currently staying home to flatten the curve. Many travel plans, including our own, have been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. While we aren't able to share new content from the road, we hope this collection from our travel archive helps you explore a bit of Japan from your own home.