Access to Tanaka Castle
Tanaka Castle is located in Fujieda City, Shizuoka Prefecture (map), but the closest JR Station is called “Nishi-Yaizu”.
It might be a little bit tricky to find the castle if you don’t know any Japanese, so I hope my directions will help you to find it:
From Nishi-Yaizu Station walk straight until you reach the first traffic light, then turn right. Keep walking straight until you reach another traffic light, then turn left. Keep walking straight. You’ll first have to walk under a bridge, then a little later, over a bridge. Walk straight for a while until you pass by a gas station which comes right after the bridge on the right side.
At the next traffic light walk still straight and shortly after that you turn right into a small side street. You can see the castle from the main street already, so it shouldn’t be a problem!
The Historical Site of the Villa of Tanaka Castle
Tanaka Castle (田中城) was built about 500 years ago by the Isshiki family under the orders of Lord Imagawa. The castle was surrendered to Lord Takeda Shingen in 1570. He was the one who ordered to build the moats and modern castle fortifications.
Four moats were set up around the castle during the Edo period. Because of that the castle grounds have a circular layout which is rare in Japan.
Nowadays you’ll find the Nishi Mashizu Elementary School on the castle grounds.
At the beginning of the Meiji period, Tanaka Castle was destroyed – just like many other castles. The buildings and the land were sold to ordinary people.
Some of the original buildings were donated to Fujieda City when the reconstruction of the villa garden was carried out (1992-1996).
In the picture above you see the entrance gate: Gate of Kabuki.
It was rebuilt using an original blueprint.
The main turret of Tanaka Castle was designated as Tangible Cultural Property in 1993. It is a 2-storied wooden building with a copper roof. The yagura was reconstructed in 1992 to serve as a local history museum.
That’s how the turret looks from the inside.
Old costumes are displayed. As it is all wooden, you’ll find fire extinguishers everywhere!
Of course, you are not allowed to smoke anywhere on the castle grounds.
Here you can see the four castle moats and the circular shape they’re forming around the castle grounds.
The castle is located next to a small river: Rokken River.
The small park around the castle has some more buildings such as a tea ceremony house as well as a small Japanese-style garden.
Villa Garden (reconstructed):
The reconstructed garden is only half of the size of the original one. The original one is said to have consisted of a small artificial mountain called “Tsukiyama”, a miniature lake called “Sensui”, a tea ceremony house and a small shrine.
There’s still the bank of one of the castle moats in the garden nowadays.
Upon entering through the entrance gate, you’ll find a small information booth to your right. You can only enter the castle turret with one of the guides for preservation reasons. There might be instances where you cannot enter the interior, e.g. bad weather conditions.
The guides there are really nice and there is no admission fee. I received an English pamphlet, but I’m not sure if the guides can speak English.
The area around the castle grounds is also quite nice. On the left you see Rokken River and on the right Tanaka Castle’s turret.
If you have some time, you should take a walk along the river.
As many cities in Japan Fujieda City (藤枝) also has its own manhole cover.
As you can see it doesn’t feature the castle. After all Tanaka Castle is not that famous.
(but much more time to get to the castle from the station if you walk!)
After visiting so many great sights in one day: Hamamatsu Castle, Hamamatsu Festival Pavilion, Nakatajima Sand Dunes and Kakegawa Castle, the castle in Fujieda was my last destination of the day. I didn’t have to rush at all, so you can probably stick to a similar itinerary!