Next up on Etchy's Castle Tour - the small city of Marugame, Kagawa (
丸亀市 -google map).
You may have noticed that Marugame is not on the main Japanese Island of Honshu, its on Shikoku, the 'other' island that is actually one of the least developed parts of Japan. Luckily there was a ferry between Fukuyama and Marugame... It was a bit old, but sturdy enough. It was almost completely empty on the ride over. Only a few truck drivers sleeping in the back.
It was about 1 hour 45 minutes across to Shikoku. In Marugrame's port area there were a bunch of ship yards. In the picture above on the right you can see a bunch of pre-fabbed ship sections (including the bow standing up on end). They were welding them together to make a new cargo ship or something.
A short, expensive taxi ride later, my goal was in site, Marugame Castle:
On the left is the view from a nearby park. The tower is actually quite small and far a top the hill, so I used the
7X zoom on my new camera to get a close up.
The hill Marugame's castle tower is on is apparently entirely man made (or at least mostly man made), and is like 50m tall. I had quite a hike in store!
As the map shows, Marugame castle has a nice intact moat and set of outer walls, inner walls and what not. I've realized that I enjoy castles with nice grounds and walls and earthworks than just one w/ a big tower (ie
The moat was teeming with life:
Not just swans, not just koi, but a buttload of turtles too. I should note that Marugame means literally 'circle turtle' in Japanese... The funny part was seeing the turtles push their way through schools of koi fish...
The Otenomon, the main gate.
The wall system was impressive:
They had recently restored one of the turret foundations:
I'm sure in a few years the rock will fade to match the rest.
Finally up to the top:
The tower is quite small, only 3 stories. But it has a special feature... its
ORIGINAL! one of only 6 original wooden castles still intact... This is probably the smallest! :-P
As its pretty small, there wasn't much in the way of displays inside, its mostly about the fact that its original wood inside... I have learned from my travels that this also means super steep staircases!
(much easier going up than coming down!)
Here's the view from the top of the tower. Marugame's actually not a small town, but its mostly low level sprawl... In the distance on the right you can barely make out the
Great Seto Bridge that connects Shikoku to Honshu. (if only the toll wasn't $30 each way!)
After the keep, we took another loop through the grounds on my way down to the station:
the Tenshu, viewed from below.
Shikoku is famous for its udon noodles, so I had to get some before leaving. Then it was back to the ferry. This time it was pretty full. not just trucks, but also family cars and motorcyclists. (makes me miss my japan motorcycle!).
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