Romance comes alive.
- Yamato Koriyama Castle Festival Dates: March 24th - April 7th; Time: 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. (Cherry blossoms will be lit up from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
On entering the grounds there is a signpost marking the two entrances to the castle. While most visitors will travel directly to the main building up the hill, instead it is better to take the longer route that leads through the gardens via the Ote gate. It is worth taking your time on this route as even the gate itself, with its sloping roof and wooden struts, is worth visiting.
This perfect harmony is the result of it being built as a place to slowly enjoy the tea ceremony in days gone by
Shortly after passing through this entrance is a small garden. The main attraction of this spot is an old building known as the Bishamon Kuruwa which is so perfectly aligned with the neighboring greenery that it is hard to believe it wasn’t built for photography. Instead, this perfect harmony is the result of it being built as a place to slowly enjoy the tea ceremony in days gone by. Similarly photogenic is the stupa a little further up the path where the feudal lord who united the area, Tsutsui Junkei, was laid to rest.
After enjoying the sights in the surrounding grounds, it is time to head to the main site. Before heading up to the very top, it is worth circling the upper-most area of the walls. According to legend, during the building of the castle, the lord of the castle used any piece of stone that he could get his hands on to fortify his building. These stones included rocks from local temples, unfinished Buddhist art and even a statue of Jizo.
Jizo art pieces are usually carefully handled as they are associated with the protection of children and the souls of the damned. Unfortunately, the statue at Koriyama was not so lucky and was forced into a vacant hole in the wall upside down, presumably in an attempt to disguise its true nature. As this upper wall is one of the few things to survive the original castle’s destruction it seems that the Jizo’s powers of protection may have manifested themselves after all.
As a result, a festival is now held every year to ward off the bad mojo that building a castle out of sacred stones could potentially cause. Known as Yamato Koriyama Castle Festival, this festival involves unique sights such as local people dressed in period costume and, fascinatingly, a goldfish festival at the nearby Yanagisawa shrine. The art of goldfish husbandry has a long history that can be traced back to the samurai, so it is a big part of the area’s identity.
As Koriyama castle is slightly off the beaten track, much like many of the attractions on its site, it is easily overlooked. This is a little unfortunate as it is an area with real history and plenty of things to uncover. For visitors looking to discover a little more about the feudal period in Japan and the priorities of the people at the top had, it is an attraction worth spending some time at if only to uncover all of its secrets.
The green areas around Nara Prefecture represent an attempt by nature to retain its dominion despite the constant encroaching by the major cities that most tourists visit in the Kansai Region. In the outskirts there are still village areas which have likely remained unchanged for most of the century. For those that want to see the Kansai's…More