A Japanese castle with a garden based on a Chinese story.
The town of Kishiwada in the southeast of Osaka Prefecture is best known for its huge and wild Danjiri Festival where several tons of portable shrine are dragged through the town at breakneck speeds.
Less well known is Kishiwada-jo, or Kishiwada Castle, a small castle near the west coast of Osaka Prefecture. The first castle on this spot was built around 1334 by Wada Takaie, a general in the army of Kusunoki Masashige. At this time, the area was simply known as Kishi meaning “shore” and after he moved into the area, it became Kishi-no-Wada or the “Shore of Wada” before being shortened to Kishiwada.
The castle was rebuilt in the 16th century on the order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi in order to monitor unrest in Wakayama Prefecture to the south. The original tower had 5 levels but was destroyed by lightning in 1827 with the 3 level concrete reconstruction being built in 1954.
While the castle itself is quite small, it does contain an interesting little museum and there is a good view from the top of the tower and a nice scale model of what the area used to look like during the Edo Period. What makes Kishiwada Castle interesting though is its unusual garden.
Sitting directly in front of the tower, this rock garden features three levels of white sand fashioned into seemingly abstract shapes with clusters of large bluish rocks. The sand represents the original layout of the castle while the rocks are the said to be the 8 battle formations of Koumei Shokatsu, the Japanese name given to Zhuge Liang, the famous general of 3rd century China.
Around the town
Close to Kishiwada Castle, you can also find the Kishiwada Danjiri Museum and the local natural history museum. Both are very interesting and you can purchase a “Three Spots Passport” ticket for ¥700 which gives you access to both museums and the castle.
The Ni-no-maru courtyard on the opposite side of the road from the castle has a very small, quiet park and a public lavatory somewhat interestingly incorporated into one of the reconstructed castle turrets.