Military Wiki
Kanazawa Castle
Ishikawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan
Nagaya and yagura
Type Japanese castle
Coordinates Latitude:
Built by Sakuma Morimasa
In use 1580-1871

Kanazawa Castle (金沢城 Kanazawa-jōu?) is a large, well-restored castle in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. It is located adjacent to the celebrated Kenroku-en Garden, which once formed the castle's private outer garden.

History and description

Kanazawa Castle showing the Hashizume-mon Tsuzuki Yagura watchtower, Hashizume-ichi-no-mon Gate, and moat.

The castle was founded in 1583 when the Maeda family moved to Kanazawa to establish the Kaga Domain. It was greatly reconstructed in 1592 after the first of Hideyoshi's invasions of Korea, at which time its moats were dug. It was burned down and reconstructed in 1620-21 and again in 1631-32, then almost completely gutted in the great Kanazawa fire of 1759, and rebuilt in 1762 and 1788 (Ishikawa-mon Gate). After several minor fires and an earthquake, it was again destroyed by fire in 1881.

What remains, including the 1788 Ishikawa Gate, is now part of Kanazawa Castle Park. The Sanjukken Nagaya (an Important Cultural Asset) and the Tsurumaru Storehouse are two additional remaining structures.

The Hishi Yagura turret, Gojikken Nagaya warehouse, and Hashizume-mon Tsuzuki Yagura turret were faithfully restored in 2001 to their 1809 form, using traditional construction methods. Today's pillars are Japanese Hinoki Cypress with massive American cypress as ceiling beams. It is such a large structure within that in the late 18th century it was called "the palace of 1,000 tatami". The castle's distinctive, whitish roof tiles are made of lead. The reason for that is not only that they are fireproof, but legend says that also that in times of siege, the tiles could be melted down and cast into bullets.

Main features

The castle's main features are as follows:

  • Hishi Yagura - watchtower, three stories. Height of roof: 17.34 m above stone wall; total floor area: 255.35 m². This tower is built at a slight angle to the rest of the structures, which results in diamond-shaped internal pillars and hard-to-build connections within its complex web of internal pillars and beams.

Interior (Gojukken Nagaya), reconstructed 2001.

  • Gojikken Nagaya - long, hall-like, multi-sided turret normally used as a warehouse, two stories. Height of roof: 9.35 to 10.08 m above stone wall; total floor area: 1,384.95 m².
  • Hashizume-mon Tsuzuki Yagura - watchtower and command post, three stories. Height of roof: 14.69 m above stone wall; total floor area: 253.93 m².
  • Hashizume-ichi-no-mon Gate - entrance gate.
  • Tsuru-no-maru Dobei - double earthen wall. Height of roof: 2.91 m above stone wall.
  • Ishikawa-mon Gate - entrance gate with two distinctive styles of stonework. It has been designated an Important National Cultural Asset by the government. This gate faces one of the entrances of Kenrokuen park.

The castle sits within extensive grounds, currently organized as large, well-kept lawns and informal wooded areas, with various large walls, gates, and outbuildings.

Until 1989, Kanazawa University was located on the castle grounds. The large campus is now on the edge of town in an area called Kakuma. Prior to World War II, the grounds served as headquarters of the 9th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army.

See also

  • Mount Utatsu, a mountain to the west of the castle
  • Toyokuni Shrine, a Shinto shrine located on Mount Utatsu which is dedicated to Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Maeda Toshitsune


  • Brochure, Kanazawa Castle Park


  • Schmorleitz, Morton S. (1974). Castles in Japan. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co.. pp. 121–123. ISBN 0-8048-1102-4. 
  • Motoo, Hinago (1986). Japanese Castles. Tokyo: Kodansha. p. 200 pages. ISBN 0-87011-766-1. 

External links

Coordinates: 36°33′52″N 136°39′33″E / 36.564317°N 136.659228°E / 36.564317; 136.659228

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