Iwate Park (Morioka castle site Park)
Also known as the Morioka Castle Ruins Park, its beautiful stone walls are one of the treasures of the Tohoku region.
Iwate Park is a park built for local citizens on the site where Morioka Castle (also known as Kozukata Castle) once stood; castle construction is believed to have commenced at the end of the Sengoku period (1493-1590), after Nanbu Nobunao (the first feudal lord of the Morioka domain) received permission to build it from Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the general who ruled much of Japan in the latter half of the 16th century.
The actual work of constructing the castle was overseen by Nanbu Toshinao, who was appointed to the post of general magistrate (sobugyo) for this task and who later became the second lord of the domain; in 1633, 36 years after construction commenced, Nanbu Shigenao (the third lord of the Nanbu clan) was finally able to take up residence in the castle and it became the seat of the ruling Nanbu clan of Morioka until the end of the Shogunate.
The fate of Morioka Castle was no different from that of other castles, and the majority was dismanted between the twilight years of the Shogunate (1853-1868) and the Meiji period (1868-1912), as Japan moved into the early modern period, with the interior of the castle falling into ruin. However, in 1906, it was reborn as Iwate Park, thanks to the pioneering early modern park designer Yasuhei Nagaoka.
It has since become renowned as a location for viewing cherry blossom in spring, attracting many visitors, while the dappled shade of the verdant trees makes it an ideal place for relaxation and refreshment during the heat of summer; in addition, the vivid colors of the leaves in fall are a joy to behold. Then, in winter, the snow-covered scenery reminiscent of an ink wash painting beckons visitors into a fantasy world.
The stone walls that are emblematic of the castle ruins use granite sourced locally in Morioka, and have become a symbol of the area, as the home of one of the three great castle ruins of the Tohoku region. Leading early modern Japanese poets Takuboku Ishikawa and Kenji Miyazawa loved the castle ruins and wrote a number of works about them, and monuments to both men are another attraction in this park.
Address: Uchimaru, Morioka City, Iwate
Phone: 019-639-9057 (Parks Division, Urban Development Department, Morioka City Office)
Admission Fee: Free
Directions: About 15 minutes on foot from Morioka Station (2 hours 30 minutes from Tokyo Station) on the Tohoku Shinkansen