Remnants of the Aoba Castle (青葉城)
One afternoon, my culture class went to see the Aoba Castle remains. I only have a few photos of the place, so I’m going to show them first and describe the place after.
Location: Aoba Castle, Sendai 仙台市, Miyagi Prefecture
Duration: A few hours
Aoba Castle, (Aoba Jou 青葉城) also known as Sendai Castle, was built on Mount Aoba in 1600 by the feudal lord Date Masamune. The location was strategically selected for militaristic defenses, since Mount Aoba is right next to Sendai but 100 meters higher. But the period of peace following the construction of the Aoba Castle diminished the need for a strong castle, and the main keep was designed but never built.
Unfortunately, due to the anti-feudal movements in the Meiji Period (1868-1912), fire damage in 1882, and the fire bombing of Sendai during WWII, little of the Aoba Castle is left. It is amazing that any of it still stands, since the majority of the castles in Japan were torn down during the Meiji Period. While there have been efforts to restore the old Aoba Castle and to uncover lost artifacts, the site today is mostly empty except for the outer stone wall, an old tower, and a few wooden structures. However, the area is still popular among the public, since it has a great view of Sendai city, and includes attractions like the Gokoku Shrine, Yagiyama Zoo, Benyland and Sendai City Museum. Also, the famous statue of Date Masamune (伊達政宗) on horseback is located at the castle grounds. Since there isn’t actually a castle at the castle grounds, the area today is more commonly known as the Sendai Castle Ruins (Sendai Jou Ato 仙台城跡).
Note: The 2011 earthquake caused some damage to the castle grounds and roads, but the castle ground and its attractions are still accessible by foot or car/bus via a detour.
The Aoba Castle grounds is very close to the Kawauchi (川内) campus of Tohoku University, so my culture class met up on the University campus, and walked over to the castle remains.
It was a good, sunny day for a walk.
Along the way, I saw some digging sites where people were digging for old artifacts. The sties weren’t very big, but I don’t think I had seen any archaeological digging sites before, so that was interesting.
Coming uphill toward the Aoba Castle grounds, we saw a stone wall next to the road, made of large pieces of stones. Those were impressively massive. Unfortunately I did not take a photo of the wall.
I thought the statue of Date Masamune was very majestic and intimidating at the same time. Not only does the towering statue look down on the visitors, but the sun was just at the right angle to create some harsh contrasts on the statue, creating an eerie atmosphere. It was awesome.