I have visited many castle ruins and sometimes there are a few walls still standing, while at other locations nothing reminds you of a once great structure - all that remains is the wind.
Some castles were destroyed during the time of the Meiji Restoration and some were the victims of the American bombing raids of World War II. Azuchi Castle was possible set ablaze by the traitorous Akechi Mitsuhide in 1582. In any circumstance, it is a shame.
My daughter and I traveled to see the Azuchi Castle ruins while staying in Hikone, in Shiga Prefecture. We knew that Oda Nobunaga, the great warlord, had once made Azuchi Castle his home. This was an extraordinary castle in its time, due to its size, innovative building design, use of materials, donjon, and location on a plain. When we arrived, we sensed the significance - we could see a long stone stairway - but not only that, to explore these ruins required an admission fee!
It was a bit cool and damp, but it didn't hinder us. We saw the site where Hideyoshi had lived, across from his friend Maeda Toshiie. We imagined the Taiko in his early days as one of Nobunaga's vassals. We remembered how Toshiie became a successful daimyo and was named guardian of Hideyoshi's young son. We climbed stair after stair and thought about Nobunaga in his palace and all his machinations, until that fateful day of Mitsuhide's betrayal.
These castle ruins are worth seeing. Afterward you can hike over to the Azuchi Castle Museum and House of Nobunaga, which we WOULD have visited except they are closed on Mondays. Ah well, next time.
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