Sunday, January 8, 2023

Saga Castle

Saga Castle

Saga Castle.

Saga Castle is not a well-known castle, but it is unusual in several respects. It is a flatland castle, hirajiro in Japanese.

Saga Castle.

It is surrounded by a very wide moat of 80 meters. One of the consequences of the widespread introduction of firearms in the 16th century was that moats became much wider.

The impressive moat.

Whereas most Japanese castles were built up on stone bases, Saga castle was surrounded by walls. The earthen ramparts were planted with trees so that in combination with stone walls it was impossible to view the castle's layout and fortifications from outside and so earned the nickname "submerged castle", shizumi-jo.


Originally a fortified village, the castle came under the control of the Nabeshima Clan in 1584 and they controlled it all the way through the Edo Period. In the early 17th century the castle was rebuilt and included a 5-storey keep, the base of which is pictured above.

Wall of the castle.

In 1726 a major fire destroyed most of the buildings of the castle, including the keep. Most were quickly replaced except the keep which was never rebuilt.


In 1835 another fire destroyed most of the buildings which were once again rebuilt. The Shachinomon gate, pictured below, dates from this time. Incidentally, Saga Castle is where Hagakure, well known among samurai nerds as a "bible" of "bushido" was written,


In 1874, disgruntled samurai occupied the castle which was being used as local government offices. In the subsequent battle most of the buildings were once again destroyed. In 2001 reconstruction of the main palace of the castle was begun. Though only a third of its original size, the reconstructed palace is said to be the largest reconstructed wooden building in Japan and I will cover it in the next post.

The castle grounds.


  1. Interesting - another one for my "to-visit" list!

  2. Replies
    1. the 5th photo is obviously mostly new stones, but does clearly show the anti-earthquake structure