23 Dec 2016 in So Design
Discover the history of Kanazawa Castle, including the amazing wooden structure that contains no screws, nuts or nails!
The history of Kanazawa Castle set us back to the 16th century, and held by the Maeda family ( one of the most powerful samurai families in Japan ) at the end of the 1600s. During the centuries that followed the castle was subjected to many fires, and a major earthquake in 1855. In spite of all these historic events, the famous castle is now just like new.
From the park entrance, the size and splendour of the castle make it an impressive sight. In the late 17th century, the castle was known as “the Palace of the 1000 Tatami Mats”. It was destroyed at many occasions, for example by the fires of 1759 and 1808, but was rebuilt each time. In 2001, major parts of the castle were renewed and restored, including the main structures and watchtowers, with traditional construction methods.
Amazing restoration work
Kanazawa Castle is said to be the largest castle to have been built of wood since the Meiji period. A full restoration has been carried out, respecting ancestral Japanese techniques, and it is astonishing to see the imposing structure built of wood, 70% of which was grown in the prefecture of Ishikawa. Not one nut, nail or metal rod was used to join the various elements: beams and pillars interlock following an incredible assembling system. These mechanics are explained to visitors by drawings and models placed along the route, and by a remarkable 3D film that shows in details the different phases of building.
An astonishing tour
Since its renovation, the castle is an interesting place to visit because of the impressive length of the building but also for the most striking feature of all: the staircases. Some of them are extremely difficult to climb because the steps are very steep. Later in the tour, visitors are oftenly fascinated by the architect’s ingenuity in designing the castle.
An example? To prevent enemy attacks, the architects installed systems of windows and openings in each tower. Firstly to keep watching neighbourhoods, and secondly to throw stones at any assailants who might attempt to climb the wall. At the end of the tour, you can carry on walking in the castle grounds and the Kenrokuen Gardens, opposite the Ishikawa-mon Gate entrance.
A shuttle bus runs from Hoshino Resorts KAI Kaga into the city; take advantage of this service to discover this incredible treasure of Japan’s architectural heritage.