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Near the center of Morioka’s downtown rests the site of Morioka’s former castle. Long since demolished and never rebuilt, it was renovated into a public park and garden in 1906, and renamed Iwate Park. It is now also known as the Morioka Castle Ruins Park.

Morioka castle park

As with most castle sites in Japan, the park is located within a barrier of large granite walls, and sits at a slightly higher elevation than the rest of the city. Although there is no longer any castle to see anymore, it is still a great place to wander, relax, and enjoy during the hanami season and late July, when you can catch large groups of Taiko drummers practicing for the upcoming Sansa parade.

Morioka castle park

Inside the park grounds you’ll find rose gardens, koi ponds, and a variety of tree species, which light up in autumn as the leaves change colors. Wander to the south east side of the park and you can take a seat on one of the benches lining the walkway next to the Nakatsu River.

cherry blossom tree in Morioka castle park, where one can have hanami sessions

During hanami or cherry blossom season, the park becomes over crowded with parties of people, resting and drinking under the short-lived cherry blossoms. So if you come during this time, be sure to get there early in order to find a cherry blossom spot so you can take a seat and admire the view.

Have a hanami session and view the cherry blossom at Morioka castle park

Construction of Morioka Castle began in 1597, and despite repeated flooding from the Kitakami and Nakatsu Rivers, construction continued for 36 years. Building finished in 1633, and Nambu Shigenao, the third lord of the Morioka domain, was finally able to reside within the buildings.

autumn colors at Morioka castle park

The castle site is located at the confluence of the Kitakami and the Nakatsu Rivers. When the castle still stood, the basic layout consisted of the inner castle compound (or uchi kuruwa), which housed the main building where the lord lived. A second building was where meetings were conducted, and a third building was used for Shinto rituals. In the past the castle was surrounded by a large moat, although this feature no longer exists either.

 

The castle was destroyed in 1874, and redesigned as a garden by Yasuhira Nagaoka in 1906.

On the highest level of the park, you can find an empty pedestal, on which used to rest a bronze statue of Toshinao of the Nanbu clan. The statue was melted down for weapons during World War 2.

empty pedestal in Morioka castle park

At the north end of the park is Sakurayama Jinja shrine; a small shrine which acts as the meeting point for many of the Sansa dancers before and after they participate in the Sansa Parade.

Sakurayama Jinja shrine in Morioka castle park

 

Access: Morioka Castle Park is a fifteen minute walk from Morioka Station.

    
Name Morioka Castle Ruins Park
Category Park
Address 〒020-0023 Iwate Prefecture, Morioka, Uchimaru 1-37
Access [map]〒020-0023 Iwate Prefecture, Morioka, Uchimaru 1-37[/map]
Opening Hours -
Price Range -
Payment options
Ryann Overbay

Ryann Overbay

Ryann is from Seattle, Washington. She graduated with a degree in Creative Writing from Western Washington University, and spent the subsequent years as an outdoor sports guide in Colorado, leading rock climbing, hiking, and zip lining tours. She enjoyed a brief stint as a photographer at Crested Butte Ski resort, before moving to Korea to work as an English teacher. She now works as an English teacher in Iwate, Japan, and spends as much time outdoors as she can.

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