Dec
11
2012

Morioka Castle Site Park

After the typhoon hit almost all of Japan the weather never got better and more than half of my vacation it had pretty bad weather.
Luckily the last day was different with blue sky and sunshine!
It was a very long day for me that I spent in two great locations of Iwate Prefecture: Morioka (featured in today’s post) and Hiraizumi (featured in the next blog post).

smilie Visited: May 7th 2012 smilie

Morioka Castle Site Park

Exploring the Morioka Castle Site Park

I got up very early in the morning to visit the Morioka Castle (盛岡城) ruins.

As it is a park now and only ruins are left, you can go anytime without having to pay any admission fee.

Morioka Castle Site Park (盛岡城跡公園) – also known as Iwate Park – is close to the station (~ 20min. walk). Here’s a map that will give you a rough idea.

Morioka Castle Site Park

There was also a little shrine in the park: 櫻山神社 (Sakurayama Shrine)

How to wash your hands and mouth at a Japanese shrine

Some shrines have these instructions of how to wash your hands and mouth before you proceed to pray to the gods.

This is probably the cutest drawing I’ve seen so far!

Morioka Castle Site Park Morioka Castle Site Park

The shrine was decorated with koi flags (Koinobori 鯉幟, lit.: carp streamer) for Children’s Day (Kodomo no hi, May 5th).

Morioka Castle Site Park

As you can see it wasn’t windy at all.

Morioka Castle Site Park

Behind the shrine there was another small shrine up on a hill with some pretty impressive rocks.

Morioka Castle Site Park Morioka Castle Site Park

Advised by Asano Nagamasa, Nambu Nobunao (the first lord of the Morioka domain), appointed his heir, Toshinao (the second lord) to be in charge of the construction of Morioka Castle in 1597.
In spite of damage by the repeated flooding of the Kitakami and Nakatsu Rivers, construction continued for 36 years!
In 1633, Nambu Shigenao (the third lord) finally entered Morioka Castle.
Subsequently the castle was the residence of the Nanbu family (南部藩, Nanbu Han) during the Edo Period.

Morioka Castle Site Park Morioka Castle Site Park

Although all the buildings of the castle were destroyed in 1874, the ruined castle site was redesigned by garden architect Yasuhei Nagaoka in 1906.

Nowadays only ruins of the castle walls can be found, but it used to be a beautiful 3-storied castle.

Morioka Castle Site Park Morioka Castle Site Park

This well-maintained park – known as “Iwate Park” is now a place of recreation and relaxation for many city residents.
In 2006 this castle site was given the nickname of “Morioka Castle Site Park” to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Iwate Park.

Morioka Castle Site Park

The remaining walls are well-preserved and offer a really impressive sight.

Morioka Castle Site Park

The best time to visit is in spring or in autumn. The park has many cherry blossom trees (as you can see in my photos), but also many trees that will turn yellow and red in autumn. In winter there’s a lot of snow, so it might be difficult to access.

Morioka Castle Site Park

There are still a lot of the castle’s walls left nowadays.

Morioka Castle Site Park

As the park is very spacious you’ll run into all sorts of things, like this statue here.

People have put money on the stone statue in order for their prayers to be heard.

Morioka Castle Site Park

This looks like the PERFECT place for an awesome picnic to me! ^__^

Morioka Castle Site Park

I’m not sure if there’s still anything in the house you see in the background. Windows and doors were closed, but it was also early in the morning, so who knows!

Morioka Castle Site Park Morioka Castle Site Park

Right next to the park there’s a small river, the Nakatsu River (中津川).

A lot of people in suits were walking through the park. Not too far away are some public buildings. I suppose those people work there.

Seems like a great thing to start your day with a walk through the park or along the river.

Morioka Castle Site Park Morioka Castle Site Park

I went back into the beautiful park and just strolled around for a little while.

Morioka Castle Site Park

It was such a colorful and refreshing park. It gave me energy for my last day of vacation.

Morioka Castle Site Park Morioka Castle Site Park

There was also this freaky totem pole!

Outside of the park it was hectic and loud, but if you went deeper into the park or towards the riverside it was a different world!

I think it’s great for bigger cities to have such a place!

Morioka JR Station

In front of Morioka Station. As you can see it was still early in the morning when I arrived there.
Don’t ask how early I got up to manage that! Wanting to see Morioka and Hiraizumi in one day, I had no other choice! Sometimes my travel schedule is crazy and packed – especially when I change them in the last minute. I didn’t have Morioka and Hiraizumi on my list at first and decided rather spontaneously that I wouldn’t spend my last day in Hokkaido, but in Iwate Prefecture! smilie

I’m glad I went. Hiraizumi was great!
Stay tuned to read all about it in the next post! smilie

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