Kanazawa Castle-Secrets of the Beautiful Gates and Turrets -2-

Kanazawa Castle Park is a popular tourist spot in Kanazawa. The castle developed during the Edo period as the residence of the Maeda family of the Kaga domain, but most of its buildings were lost in repeated fires. In recent years, however, restoration and maintenance have progressed in line with historical facts. 

Visiting the castle after learning about the distinctive structures and functions of the castle architecture will double your enjoyment of walking around Kanazawa Castle Park.

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Along with the gates, the important defensive role of the castle was played by a structure called Yagura, turrets. In peacetime, those turrets were used as watchtowers and armouries. During battles, they were used as a base to attack enemies with arrows and guns.

Kanazawa Castle’s Sanjikken Nagaya, was built in the Edo period as an armoury, is still standing and has been designated as a National Important Cultural Property. The three turrets, Hishi-Yagura, Hashizume-Mon-Tsuzuki-Yagura and Gojikken Nagaya, which had surrounded Nino-Maru palace, the residence of the lord of the domain, have been restored.

Hishi-Yagura Turret

This is the keystone of the defence of Kanazawa Castle, guarding the main and back gates. To prevent enemy soldiers from climbing the stone wall, a bay window is provided to drop stones on the wall facing the moat.  

Hashizume-Mon-Tsuzuki-Yagura Turret

It overlooked “Hashizume Gate”, one of the most important gates of Kanazawa Castle, where passers-by were observed and control before to enter the Lord residence.

Gojikken Nagaya

In peacetime, it was used as a warehouse and also served as a base of operations. 

The Tsuru-no-maru resting hall is the perfect spot to take a photo of the long row of three turrets. The front of the building is made of glass, and you can enjoy the Castle View from inside the building. 

The Tsuru-no-maru resting hall

During summer 2020 was inaugurated the end of the restoration of Nezumitamon Gate and Nezumitamon Bridge.

The architecture of Kanazawa Castle is characterized by its lead-tile roof and its Namako wall, with flat tiles on the walls and plaster joints. Nezumitamon Gate also has both of these features, but various surveys have shown that while white plaster was used for the usual namako walls, black plaster was used for Nezumitamon Gate. This is unprecedented in any other castle construction in Japan. The restored Nezumitamon Gate is also plastered in black, based on historical fact, and has a unique presence. 

Nezumitamon Gate and Nezumitamon Bridge.

One of the former parts of Kanazawa Castle, the garden Gyokuseninmaru was connected at this time with Kanaya-de-maru by the Nezumitamon Bridge, which crossed the water moat and served as an entrance and exit. The retired feudal lords lived in the Kanaya-de-Maru. In modern times the landscape has changed dramatically: the water moat is now a road and Kanaya-demaru is now the Oyama Shrine, dedicated to the Kaga domain’s founder, Toshiie Maeda.  

The garden Gyokuseninmaru

If you walk from Kanazawa Castle Park to Oyama Shrine through the Nezumitamon Gate and on to the ruins of the Nagamachi samurai residences, you will feel like a samurai. Along the route, there is a Kanazawa Central Tourist Information Center with a foreign-language concierge on hand.  

Oyama Shrine

Related article: The history of Kanazawa