Takada Castle was built by Matsudaira Tadateru, Ieyasu's 7th son. According to the 2000 Taiga drama "Aoi Tokugawa," Tadateru was "an incorrigible brat."
The castle construction involved thirteen daimyo, including Uesugi Kagekatsu of Yonezawa and Made Toshitsune of Kanazawa. Tadateru’s father-in-law, Date Masamune headed up the project.
Date Masamune is one of my favorite daimyo because he seemed to be a bit of a scallywag. From what I have studied, Masamune was always up to something, and Ieyasu was probably wise to keep an eye on him. But I seriously wonder why he would have his son Tadateru, the "incorrigible brat," marry into the Date family to Iroha-hime, Masamune's oldest daughter. Masamune could not have been a good influence on him. He may have even encouraged Tadateru’s rebelliousness.
Well, we all know what happened to Tadateru. He came late to the Siege of Osaka Castle and Hidetada, usually an even-tempered sort (and famously late to Sekigahara), was mad. Tadateru ended up living in obscurity in Suo Province, where he died at age 91. Maybe it was not so bad there, since he outlived all his brothers.
But back to the castle - we took the Limited Express Shirayuki (about a two hour ride) from Niigata City to Takada Station. It was an easy 10-minute walk to the castle, and we enjoyed our time there.
Takada Castle is known as one of three top cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan. The Million Visitors Cherry Blossom Festival takes place every April. In late July, the moats are filled with magnificent blooming lotus flowers.
It is said that the beauty and scale of the lotus are the finest in the East. The Joetsu Lotus Festival takes place every summer. It would be especially nice to visit Takada during one (or both) of these festivals. Just be sure to watch out for the mischievous, incorrigible crows!
Niigata Prefecture 943-0835
Admission: 200 yen; closed Mondays
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