Check out samurai re-enactments at this “Flying Castle” just a day trip away from Tokyo.
With a history so tumultuous it inspired a book and a movie, Oshi Castle is just a quick day trip from Tokyo where you can catch reenactments of samurai clashing with their opponents.
Oshi Castle history
Located in Saitama Prefecture’s Gyoda City, Oshi Castle has much historical significance. It is considered one of the Narita clan’s most important strongholds in the Sengoku period, which literally translates to “Age of Warring States.” The Sengoku period lasted from the 15th to 17th centuries and is remembered for its constant political upheaval and battles.
Its location … made it extremely difficult to attack.
Oshi Castle was built by Narita Akiyasu and finished construction in 1479. Its location on a small piece of elevated land surrounded by marshes and swamplands made it extremely difficult to attack, thus earning the name “The Floating Castle.”
This was put to the test during the Siege of Oshi in 1590. Feudal lord Toyotomi Hideyoshi ordered an attack on Oshi Castle, sending 23,000 troops to fight Oshi Castle’s meager 619 samurai and 2,000 local conscripts, who successfully defended the castle against multiple attacks.
Sadly, the story doesn’t end well for the brave soldiers at Oshi Castle. In the end, the castle’s overlords were defeated in the Siege of Odawara, thus causing the area to fall under Tokugawa Ieyasu’s control.
Sakitama Kofun Park
Oshi Castle is nicknamed the “the floating castle” and is celebrated in a 2012 comedy-drama film of the same name. That film is based on a book written by award-winning author Ryo Wada. It captures the action and drama of the Seige of Oshi and won a Japan Academy Award for Best Art Direction.
Events at Oshi Castle
You can watch a samurai battle reenactment of the Siege on Oshi on weekends and holidays. The group who does the performances is called Oshi-jo Omotenashi Kaccutai (roughly translating to “Oshi Castle’s Armored Entertainment Troupe”), and they perform twice a day. (Times listed below.)
The area is another spot to catch cherry blossoms in the springtime for an excellent photo op. The blossoms typically reach their peak in northern Saitama from late March to early April.
There is also a festival called Oshi Jidai Matsuri held every November where locals dress up as samurai and parade around Oshi Castle and Gyoda City. You can find more information and get updates on this yearly event here (Japanese).
Although Oshi Castle isn’t one of the more famous castles in Japan, its historical significance is undeniable.