Morioka Castle 盛岡城
Relax and enjoy the scenery among castle ruins
Once upon a time, a giant castle dominated the Morioka skyline. Now a park has taken its place atop the hill that the Nanbu clan chose as their base of power. The castle is gone, but its memory lives on in the stone ramparts that were the base of the castle.
How to Get There
Morioka Castle is accessible by bus or taxi from JR Morioka Station.
The Morioka Central Loop Bus stops at the park (10 minutes from Morioka Station). Or you may decide to walk (15 to 20 minutes).
The castle was completed in 1633
In 1874, all the buildings were demolished by the Meiji government
Emperors, shoguns, and warlords
Originally the castle was built by the Nanbu clan to control the rivers that surrounded Morioka. An important junction for trade, the castle stood over the city for over 200 years. Unlike other castles in the Tohoku region that had earthen walls, Morioka Castle had stone granite ramparts, an expensive material at that time.
Today, the stone ramparts are all that remains of Morioka Castle. After the Boshin War ended in 1871, the Meiji government started to solidify its power by tearing down castles in lands that had opposed it. The Nanbu clan had fought for the shogun (the military leader) and against the Meiji Restoration. In a show of power, the national government restructured traditional lands and created new prefectures, and Morioka Domain became Iwate Prefecture.
Death and rebirth of a castle park
After the Meiji government tore down the castle and its surrounding buildings, the land sat idle for thirty years, until park designer Yasuhei Nagaoka turned the grounds into what is now Iwate Park .
From 1906, Iwate Park has been open to the public. Since then, the grounds surrounding Morioka Castle have become a popular site for cherry blossom viewing, seeing the fall leaves, and poets. Two poets in particular, Takuboku Ishikawa and Kenji Miyazawa, loved the castle ruins and wrote many works about them. Today you can see monuments to both poets on the castle grounds.