My daughter and I have been enthusiastic and faithful viewers of this year’s NHK Taiga drama, “Sanada Maru.” We looked forward to visiting the Numata Castle ruins in Gunma Prefecture and, most of all, Ueda Castle in Nagano.
At the Numata Castle ruins we had to imagine how the castle was fiercely contested and fought over. We remembered seeing Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Sanada Masayuki, Hojo Ujimasa, and Tokugawa Ieyasu on the television drama. Otherwise there is not much to see, except for some reason there is a row of cages housing different birds. I felt sorry for all of them. The birds clearly wanted to escape their harsh cement prison cells. There was nothing we could do except to spend a few minutes talking to the lonely cockatiel.
The city of Numata did have a special presentation of “Sanada Maru,” and in most areas of the building visitors were permitted to take pictures.
Hence, I had my photo taken with a cardboard replica of Sanada Masayuki, my favorite.
At Ueda Castle the celebration of all things Sanada was elaborate. There was a user-interactive “Sanada Maru” presentation sponsored by the NHK housed in a building adorned with the Sanada crest. This must have been the official site of the drama - because after we exited the display hall we stepped directly into a shop full of Sanada-related merchandise, ha.
We had our picture taken with a Sanada Yukimura re-enactor, just as we had done about five years ago on a previous visit. Then, we were just about the only visitors that day. It was a huge contrast compared to the crowds of people milling around the castle grounds next to us.
We walked through section of Ueda Castle and I thought about the Sanada defeating the Tokugawa twice with the much smaller Sanada army. It made me laugh to think that Ieyasu must have been so angry and humiliated. We also enjoyed eating festival food - dango, yakitori, and soft ice cream. Amanda purchased an ema and hung it with the others after carefully rendering a drawing of Genjiro and herself on the smooth wood surface.
Spending a few hours at Ueda Castle was a lot of fun for us and totally worth it. If you are interesting visiting, the exhibits will be up until March 31, 2017.