Friday, June 3, 2011

Day Trip: Miyagi coast and Shiroishi Castle

Back in February, some friends and I rented a car and spent the day driving around doing fun stuff. We visited the coastal town Watari, played on the beach, went to a strawberry farm and visited Shiroishi Castle. This was all before the earthquake happened and I never got around to posting about our trip after that. But better late than never, right? 

Our first stop was a hot spring hotel next to the beach, where we had amazing seafood for lunch. Mine was crab fried rice, with miso soup and pickles. 

After a walk on the beach, we headed over to a local strawberry farm. Unlike American berry picking which is usually done in the summer, in Japan they grow berries in greenhouses and pick them in the early spring. Because they're grown in a colder environment, they're incredibly sweet! I was never a big fan of berries, but I've definitely come to like them over here.

At the "ichigogari", or strawberry farm.
Our last stop, after a fun drive through the countryside, was at Shiroishi Castle. It's actually a scaled down replica of the original castle, built on the same site in 1995. The original was built in 1591, the year that the Shiroishi area was taken from Date Masamune by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. I've mentioned Masamune a few times before, but to refresh your memory, he was the samurai "founder" of Sendai who was in control of much of this region during the16th and 17th centuries. 

Masamune didn't appreciate having his land stolen, and won back the Shiroishi area in 1600. He placed his relative Katakura Kojuro in control, and the Katakura family continued to live in the castle until the Meiji Restoration. During the Meiji Era, there was a revolution in which power was taken from the Shogunate and the Samurai class and returned to the Emperor. The Shiroishi Castle was destroyed during the Meiji Era, in 1875.

Always good to know where to find a samurai if you need one.

The guy with the giant moon-thing on his head is probably meant to be Masamune.
If you visit the castle now, you can go inside and see samurai armor and swords, some info about the Shiroishi area and the history of the castle, and if you climb to the third story, there's a nice view of the surrounding city and countryside. They often host historical reenactment events as well, so there's a good chance you'll get to see people in samurai costume practicing archery or reenacting a battle.

Samurai don't really go for stealth, do they? At least you would never lose this guy in a crowd.

How a traditional castle wall is made.

The view of Shiroishi from the top of the castle.
I got my info about the history of the castle from this website. It looks like a good resource for anyone interested in visiting castles in Japan. 

The castle is rather small and doesn't offer all that much to see, but if you're in the Tohoku region it's a fun stop. It was definitely a nice finish to our drive around the Miyagi countryside.


  1. That castle wall is interesting, what is it? Rope and mud? Or clay maybe?
    I kinda want to put that samurai sign on the door to my apartment, I bet then nobody would stomp around at 3am or violate the non-smoking ordinance.

    You went before the earthquake, I'm glad you got around to posting it. Always fun you hear your adventures.

  2. Yeah, it was a bamboo foundation, then mud and rope, and probably plaster or something on top. Makes me wonder how it was after the quake...

    You could post that sign, or you could always hang the heads of your slain enemies in front of the door. You know, just to really get your point across. You've just gotta be direct with those noisy neighbor types.

  3. Looks like you had a great, if cold, time. I miss Japanese food so, so much. I would give anything to eat some tempura, soba, miso, anything!

  4. Oh man, you all came to my end of Miyagi (back then anyway) and I wasn't there?!?? :( :( :(

    (Actually, I'm pretty sure I was busy that day. :p Oh well.)

  5. I didn't realize that was your area! I really need to pay more attention to geography...

    Oh well, I'm sure there'll be plenty more adventures this summer!

  6. Well it was before I moved. Shiroishi is pretty close to where I lived in Zao.