Sightseeing spot in Ako City Part.1 -Ako Castle and Ako Roshi

We will introduce the main sightseeing and photography spots in Ako City three times from now on. On May 20th of this year, “Banshu Ako, the city that produced Japan’s first salt,” was certified as a Japanese heritage. There will be many things that will become cultural assets. Please enjoy the various scenery of Ako city. The first time will introduce the spots related to Ako Roshi.

[Ako Castle]

Ako Castle was built by Naganao Asano over 13 years from the first year of Keian (1648). Designed by Saburozaemo Kondo,Some Ninomarumon koguchi, a famous Military scholar Yamaga Soko at the time has been handed over.

Despite being built about 50 years after the Tokugawa Shogunate started, Ako Castle was built according to military studies and had a structure that was strongly conscious of practical warfare. In addition, Honmaru and Ninomaru are Rinkaku shiki, and the relationship between Ninomaru and Sannomaru is a Teikaku shiki.It is a coastal castle with a deformed Henkei Rinkaku Shiki that is very rare in the history of modern castles.The south side of the castle faced the Seto Inland Sea, allowing ships to enter and exit.

After the Asano clan, it became the castle of the Nagai family and then the Mori family. Due to the Meiji abandoned castle decree, the building was demolished and became only a stone wall and a moat, but its restoration began in Showa. In 1971, Honmaru Garden and Ninomaru Garden were designated as national scenic spots in 2002. In 2006, it was selected as one of Japan ’s 100 most famous castles. Of course, it is also a constituent cultural asset of Japanese heritage.


Honmarumon was demolished after the abandoned castle, but was restored from 1992 to 1996 based on excavations and various materials. It consists of two gates: the “Koraimon” that continues from the bridge over the moat and the “Yaguramon” that has a building on top of the gate. Between the two gates, there is a rectangular Masugata (the “Masugata” created a square space with stone walls and earthen walls, a defensive facility for incoming enemy soldiers).

[View from the southwest corner of the city wall]

It is forbidden to climb the walls, but this time, with special permission, I took a picture of Honmarunai and Genroku Hanami Square from the southwest corner of the walls.


In Ako Castle, the castle tower was not built from the beginning of the castle, but a stone wall of a fine castle tower with a height of 9m was built. From the top of the castle tower, you can see the scenery of Honmaru and Ako. You can climb freely here.

[Honmaru umayaguchi Gate]

It was called the Umayaguchi mon in the Asano Family and the Daidokoro mon in the Mori Family. In 2001, gates, bridges, earthen walls and surrounding stone walls were improved.

[Ishigaki near the Hanebashi Gate]

If you want to see the beauty of Ako Castle’s stone walls, go out from the Higuchi Gate, walk along the wall in a clockwise direction, and go from the southeast corner to the bridge bridge.

[Genroku Hanami Hiroba]

Located in southwestern Ninomaru, a pond spring was discovered and restored by excavation. Many kinds of cherry blossoms are planted around, making it a place for citizens to relax.

This gate is on the south end of Ninomaru and faces the sea or tidal flats. The “Wharf at the dock” and the “pier” are restored. The goods brought in from here were stored in the Ninomaru warehouse.

[Ninomaru Garden]
A full-scale excavation was conducted from 1998 to 2001 in a garden that was estimated to have been built in the early Edo period.

It is a pond spring recreational garden with a large pond spring called “Kintaiike ” from the south side of Oishi Tanomonosuke Yashiki in front of Honmarumon to the Ninomaru west partition. The downstream part of the pond was deep enough for boating.

In 2002, along with Honmaru Garden, it was designated as the “Kyu Akojo Castle Garden” by National Site of Scenic Beauty.


[Ote Sumi Yagura and Sannomaru Otemon]

“Sannomaru Otemon” is the entrance to Ako Castle. It consisted of two tiger exits (entrances) “Koryomon” and “Yagura mon”. The gate was demolished in the early Meiji era, but the Koryomon and Ote Sumi Yagura were restored in 1955.

“Ote Sumi Yagura” was a double fence located in the north of Otemon, and was the main defense of Otemon. Going through the Koryomon gate, you will find a “Masugata” (a “Masugata” is a defensive facility prepared by stone walls and earthen walls to prepare for incoming enemy soldiers).

The point where you can see the Sumiyagura, the Koryomon, the moat and the bridge is a classic shooting spot. It is also a great place for commemorative photography.

[Kondo Genpachike taku ato Nagayamon]
Nagaya mon of the mansion of Genpachi Masanori Kondo , son of Saburozaemon  Kondo who was in charge of the design of Ako Castle. It is called “Genpachi Nagaya”.

It was a vast mansion with a frontage of 33 (about 66m) and a depth of 31 (about 62m), but now it is only the part of the tenement gate facing the road. Kondo Genpachi completed the Koshu School of Military Studies and was in the heavy duty of Ako.

The only buildings that remain in the castle during the Edo period are the Kondo Genpachi Nagaya and Oishi yoshio Nagaya , and are designated as an Edo Ako City designated cultural property (building).

[Oishi Shrine]
Ako Oishi Shrine is located on the site of Ako Castle Ruins (Sannomaru). Founded in 1912,kuranosuke Oishi , shijyu-shichi-gishi, Sampei Kayano , etc. as the main gods, the Asano clan lord of the three generations, It was built by joining the 7th generation warlords of the lord Mori clan ancestor.

On both sides of the front approach leading to the front gate are stone statues of 47 Shi who are in defeat. To the shrine precinct, the right side is the Omotemontai, and there are twenty-three bodies following the kuranosuke Oishi . On the left is Uramontai, below the Chikara Oishi , twenty-four bodies. *

The front gate is called “Gihomon” and was relocated in 1942 from the Shinmon gate at the Minatogawa Shrine in Kobe City. In the precincts, there is a bronze statue of Oishi Kuranosuke wearing a Hakama. The benefit is “fulfilled fulfillment” and “desired fulfillment” because the god of priests made a great desire to defeat the lord.


[Oishi’ Yoshio’s house ruins, Nagayamon]

Oishi residence, where the Oishi family has lived for 57 years. The residence was a vast mansion with a frontage of 28 (about 42m), a depth of 45 (about 90m), 308 tatami mats, and a chisen kaiyu shiki teien. In Kyoho 14 (1729), most of the buildings were lost due to the fire, but only the Nagaya Gate was burned down. Nagayamon is a building with a gate of 26.8m and a depth of 4.8m.One of the few Edo-era buildings left in the castle.

There is an Hayakago that Tozaemon Hayami  and Sampei Kayano passed through this gate to convey the bad news about the blade wound incident that occurred in Edo Castle. Oishi Yoshio’s house ruins are designated as a historic site in the country of Taisho 12 (1923).

This long house gate is closed and cannot enter from here. There is an entrance in the precincts of Oishi Shrine (charges apply). Inside the Nagayamon, the scenes of the family of Kuranosuke Oishi and the scenes of Tozaemon and Sampei arriving from Edo telling the sad news of the blade wound incident to Father and Son Oishi are reproduced using life-size dolls.

The garden is a pond spring recreational garden that includes Hyotan Pond, and on the other side of the pond there is a 340-year-old sacred tree “O-kusu”.

[Ako City History Museum]
It is built in the place where Ako Castle’s rice storehouse was located, and the western appearance is a reproduction of the five-walled white wall storehouse.

The nickname is “Shio to Gishi no Yakata”, and the permanent display theme is “Ako no shio”, “Ako Castle and Castle Town”, “Ako Gishi”, and “former Ako Waterworks”. In the “Ako no Shio” corner, you will find valuable country-designated important tangible folk cultural property salt making tools. In the “Ako Gishi” corner, there is also the “Ako Gishi Theater”.

Kagakuji is a Soto Buddhist temple in Kariya, Ako City, and the title given to Buddhist temples is Taiunzan.

In 1645, it was erected as the Bodaiji (temple with Asano family’s grave) by First lord  Naganao Asano , who was transferred from Hitachi no Kuni Kasama. It is also the Nagai family after the Asano family, and the family temple of the Mori family. In the precincts, there are Oishi family graves, Gishi graves, treasure halls, and Gishi statues, which are ancestors of Kuranosuke Oishi . It is designated as “Shin sai goku No.31 Sacred Site” and “Setouchi Kannon No.7 Sacred Site”.

It was purchased and relocated to Shioya somon of Ako Castle in 18th year of Meiji 6 by Senkei osho(21th monk of Kagakuji). It is designated as an Ako City cultural property.

[Main Hall]
The white banner at the entrance of the main hall has two family crests. On the right is the Asano family’s “Chigai taka no ha”, and on the left is the Oishi clan’s family crest “Futatsu Tomoe”.

When you enter the main hall and look up at the ceiling, you can see the powerful “Take ni Tora” Ink painting on the ceiling. The author was a painter from Ako, Yoshinobu Hokkyo, which was painted as a banner of Tango no sekku for the end of the Edo period.

[Nidaime Oishi nagori no matsu]
If you pass through the mountain gate of Kagakuji, you will see a magnificent pine tree in front. This is the “Nidaime Oishi nagori no matsu”.

The first-generation pine was a famous pine that was designated as a natural monument for 310 years, but both were killed by a pine weevil in 1927. Currently, it is stored as a stump in Senjudo (rest area). Even if it becomes a stump, it can be imagined that it was a fine pine tree from the thickness of its trunk. It was planted to pray for mother’s happiness when Shoki-in, the mother of Kuranosuke Oishi, died.

Exactly 10 years later, the Edo Castle blade injury incident occurred, and Takuminokami Asano  was seppuku, and then the Asano family was cut off. When evacuating from Ako, the Kuranosuke Oishi visited the graves of the Oishi ancestors and set off on the pine tree. Later, it was called “Oishi teue no matsu” and “Oishi-Nagori no matsu”.

[Shoro(Narazu no kane)]

This bell was dedicated to the father, Naganao, by the second lord of Ako, Nagatomo Asano. Marshal 15th December 15th (January 30th, 1703) Kuranosuke Oishi and Ako Roshi 47th  enter the Kira residence and defeat Kozukenosuke Kira  on behalf of the lord. After that, They was seppuku by an empire. When the news of “Ako Gishi forty-six was seppuku” was delivered to Ako, the townspeople swallowed their death and ran through this bell, so it stopped ringing and was said to be the “bell without ring” is.

[Tadayoshizuka, Tadayoshi Sakura, Futadayanagi]
“Tadayoshizuka” was erected on the 50th anniversary of Ako Gishi. The inscription is engraved with Chikara Oishi and a friend of Tatsuno who was a young friend, Yuyo Fujie.

“Tadayoshi Sakura” is a transplant of cherry blossoms in the garden of Kuranoduke Oishi. It is reported that “Futada Yanagi” was transplanted from the residence of the old elder, Kurobe Ono, who had escaped before the defeat.

[Gishi’s Tomb]
It was built in 37th year in 1739. It is reported that hair remains in the grave.

Asano Takuminokami head in the center, Kuranosuke Oishi and son’s Chikara Oishi on the left and right, forty-five graves are lined up in a U-shape to surround it. The acronym for the lawyer’s name is “blade”. However, there is no “blade” character on Yoshiemon Terasaka , who is not seppuku.

[Kyu Bizen Kaido]

The Kyu Bizen Kaido is a road that leads from the bottom of Ako Castle to the western Bizen country (current Okayama Prefecture). In the Shioya district where the highway passes, salt has been made since ancient times. Along the highway there is a cityscape that reminds us of the past when it was flourishing with salt making.

[Ikitsugi ido]

On March 14th, 14th year of Genroku (1701), there was a bruise case in which the Takuminokami Asano, cuts off Kozukenosuke Kira in the corridor of Edo castle. In order to convey the first report of the sword fight incident,  Tozaemon Hayami, and Sampei Kayano departed from Edo by hayakago in the evening.

From Edo to Ako is 170 ri (about 680 km). I traveled on the road that normally takes 17-18 days, and arrived at Ako Castle early in the morning on March 19 at a speed of four and a half days. It is said that two people who continued to be shaken by the trap drank the water of this well, took a break and rushed to the Kuranosuke Oishi in the castle. Since then it has been called Breathing Well.


[Gishi Andon]
The Karakuri watch “Gishi Andon” is a lantern with a height of about 4 meters and a base of 1.6 meters, and the pedestal is decorated with Kunisada Utagawa’s Gishi ukiyoe painting on the three sides. A door with the gates of the Asano family and the Oishi family opens with the sound of Jintaiko at noon from 9am to 8pm. Music and narration flow, and Karakuri dolls recreate the three scenes of Chushingura, “Matsu no Roka,” “Hayakago,” and “Kachidoki of Eidai bashi. On the way, the clock rises, and a doll with a built-in Oishi, who will be waving a character, appears. About 3 minutes at a time. The Karakuri clock is next to the breathing well.

[Higashi Misaki Park]

Located in the Seto Inland Sea National Park, the observation deck offers a panoramic view of the Seto Inland Sea, such as the blue sky, the calm sea, and the islands floating off the coast. In the park, there is a statue of Kuranosuke Oishi and departure. Spring is a popular cherry blossom viewing spot with a beautiful contrast between the cherry blossoms and the sea.