Saga Castle 佐賀城
Founder Nabeshima Naoshige
Nabeshima
Year 1608
Type Flatland
Condition Other Buildings
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Historical Site Prefectural Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles, Important Cultural Properties
Historical Artifacts Important Cultural Properties:
Shachinomon and tsuzuki yagura
Location Saga, Saga Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Saga Sta. (Nagasaki Line); 10 min bus.
Website Saga Castle History Museum
Notes Photos donated by Daniel from Japanese Castle Explorer
History In 1608 Nabeshima Naoshige and his son Katsushige built Saga Castle from by expanding on and utilizing much of the former Muranaka Castle which belonged to the Sengoku period lords of the Ryuzoji clan. Saga Castle was plagued by fires. Between 1716-1736 most of the castle buildings including the main keep burned down. The main keep was never rebuilt but the palace and government buildings were rebuilt centering on the Ninomaru compound. In 1835 the Ninomaru Palace among other buildings burned down so they moved back to the Honmaru compound where a new palace was constructed. The extant Shachinomon gate and connected yagura date from this time period (1838) and the reconstructed palace also reflects the Honmaru palace from this period.

Much of the castle also burned down during the Saga Rebellion of 1874. The Honmaru Palace actually survived through the Meiji Period and was used as government offices and a school until it was dismantled in 1957.

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  • DiegoDeManila    February 14, 2016 at 06:57 PM
    Visited 25 March 2015 (https://withinstrikingdistance.wordpress.com/2016/02/14/field-report-saga-castle-japan-25-march-2015/). Excellent job on the reconstructed palace, and the English audio guide (free) is both detailed and well produced. Friendly and accommodating staff - special shout-out to the fine gentleman in the Goza-no-ma who accompanied me as I toured the palace and patiently answered my questions (all the while tolerating my atrocious Japanese). Admission is free, but donations are appreciated; give generously if you can as it certainly seems well deserved.
  • furinkazan on My Page    April 14, 2013 at 02:23 PM
    I give it 3 stars because of the wonderful information you get with the free audioguide and the panels around the palace. I was struck that the reconstruction is actually 80cm above the real site. In one section of the palace you can see the old base-stones. To protect these they have put some earth on them and then they have put new base-stones right above the old ones to build the new buildings. In the doors of the Shachinomon you can see some bulletholes from the fightings during the Boshin-war. This is really a nice site to visit. I recommend it.
  • rebolforces on My Page    March 03, 2013 at 06:08 PM
    Audio guide at museum was very good and friendly staff, made this one of the most informative museum experiences
  • RaymondW on My Page    February 28, 2012 at 10:53 PM
    As Kyushu Dan has mentioned below, there aren’t as many stone walls to see here as at other castle sites, but it has enough including the tenshudai (stone foundation of the castle keep). However, the real attraction at this site is the carefully reconstructed palace using four different kinds of wood. The columns are Japanese Cyprus (Hinoki) and the horizontal roof beams are pine (Matsu). Cedar and zelkova were used, too. The museum located in the reconstructed palace is very well organized with free audio-guides in English and many major signs included an English section. Actually, the whole place is free, but they do have a donation box out. I put in 1,000yen as most castle sites would charge at least 300 to 400 yen plus maybe another 500 yen for the audio guide. They have done a wonderful job of rebuilding a significant portion of the palace from the Edo Period. No worries about supporting castle sites that actually preserve and rebuild structures using traditional materials. There is one section of the palace that is original. The Gozanoma was built in 1838. It was moved somewhere else and then moved back to be part of the restored palace, so the wood there is obviously darker and older-looking. The palace is not as flashy as Kumamoto Castle’s Honmaru Palace, but it is much bigger than the reconstructed one at Sasayama Castle and the original one at Kakegawa Castle. This is a great site to visit, and the staff is very helpful and friendly. A couple of them can speak English as well. A huge thumbs up for this site, and I reckon most castle fans would enjoy Saga Castle. Three stars for the site and a very good experience with the museum, the organization with plenty of English support, and the helpful and friendly staff.
  • kyushudan    September 24, 2009 at 08:48 AM
    It struck me after having spent the morning at Fukuoka castle, where stone foundations/walls are everywhere, how little stonework there is here. Stone isn't everything though, the moats are some of the widest I've seen and for me the gate tops it off nicely.
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Saga, Saga Pref.
Saga Castle views
Shachinomon gate original part of the honmaru palace
Honmaru palace Honmaru palace
honmaru palace Honmaru Palace