Marugame Castle




Ikoma Chikamasa, the lord of the Sanuki area originally ruled from Takamatsu Castle. While there, he built and moved to Marugame Castle placing his son in charge of Takamatsu Castle. Marugame Castle was decomissioned as part of the one castle per country law in 1615.

Marugame Castle was resurrected in 1641 when Yamazaki Ieharu was granted the small fief of Western Sanuki. He rebuilt the castle into what we see today and developed the surrounding castle town of Marugame.

Visit Notes

This is an amazing castle. I spent much more time here than I had anticipated. I don't think I've seen any book or website that really does justice to the size of this castle nor the magnificent stone walls. One of the great things about Marugame Castle is how close you can get to all of the walls. If you think about the big Edo Period castles like Edo, Osaka, Nagoya, etc their great stone walls are across a moat so you can't physically get right up next to most of them to be really awed by their scale. The main keep at the top is the smallest in Japan, but when you have such a commanding view from the only mountain in sight, you don't need a big keep.

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Castle Profile
English Name Marugame Castle
Japanese Name 丸亀城
Alternate Names Kameyama-jo, Horai-jo
Founder Ikoma Chikamasa
Year Founded 1597
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition Original main keep
Designations Top 100 Castles, has Important Cultural Properties, National Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Main Keep Structure 3 levels, 3 stories
Artifacts tenshu, Ote Ichinomon, Ote Ninomon
Features main keep, gates, turrets, water moats, stone walls, walls
Visitor Information
Access Marugame Sta. (Yosan Line), 10 minute walk
Visitor Information Main Keep open 9:00-16:30; 200yen
Time Required 150 mins
Location Marugame, Kagawa Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 17' 9.89" N, 133° 48' 1.55" E
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Added to Jcastle 2005
Admin Year Visited 2016
Admin Visits February 28, 2016
Friends of JCastle
Malcolm Fairman Photography - Marugame Castle

(27 votes)
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41 months ago
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Visited 19 Nov 2016. Quick stopover on the way back to Okayama from Kōchi. I regret making that visit - not because the castle was disappointing, but because it was so darned awesome that I'm kicking myself for not giving it more time. The city is relatively flat, which makes the sight of the castle rising proudly above the surrounding terrain all the more impressive. The core section is relatively compact, which adds to the appearance as the nested rings of defence can be appreciated in one glance from the moat to the tenshu. Fantastic views over the city to the mountains beyond, once you've made it up to the higher tiers. The small tenshu might not seem very striking, but the fact that it's an original does lend it extra significance.



61 months ago
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To create Marugame Castle an entire hill was encased in towering ishigaki (stone wall) and ringed by a moat. With scant room for large tree to grow, these resplendent walls rise in tiers above the surrounding town like some tremendous ziggurat. Marugamejō contains an original tenshukaku (main keep) which has stood undaunted by the centuries, unperturbed by the crawl of history, maintaining its hegemony over its old domain, and with lordly mien surveying generation after genderation of the town, taking within its purview samurai and salaryman alike. Needless to say I was quite impressed with this castle. There is a quaint story that Marugamejō’s stonewalls were built by a master ishigaki designer called Hasaka Juzaburō. Juzaburō was known to work only in his loincloth throughout the entire day. The Lord of the castle when he looked upon Juzaburō’s work marvelled and proclaimed “Juzaburō, these walls are the most impressive I’ve ever seen, they are most certainly impossible to climb!” But Juzaburō smiled and said “Actually, my lord, I built these walls and I know how to climb them.” So saying he proved it by scrambling up a section of the stone wall. The Lord was surprised and fear flitted across his brow. Not long after Juzaburō was asked by his lord to descend the 65 meter well in the Ninomaru bailey for research purposes. Juzaburō went down as ordered to inspect the well, but after he had descended the lord ordered stones hurled down the well, killing Juzaburō. The castellan had been worried that Juzaburō could betray the secret of scaling Marugamejō’s ishigaki to the enemy and bring ruin to the castle. There is another legend, this one a ghost story, concerning the well in the Sannomaru bailey, which descends 56 meters. It is said that during the construction of the castle terrible rains prevented work from progressing. One rainy night whilst the workers were sheltering, a man came by with a cart shouting “Tofu! Tofu for sale!” The builders kidnapped him and shut him up behind a wall at the bottom of the well as a sacrifice in the hopes that the rain would abate and they could proceed with construction. Or perhaps they were just sick of Tofu. Either way, it is told that on rainy nights one can here the muffled moan of an old vendor calling “Tofu, Tofu…” as though it were coming from beneath the castle… Features: - the original Tenshukaku, one of 12 left in Japan (there were about 56 left after the Meiji Restoration and maybe 20 or so – I haven’t worked it out yet – left before the Pacific War). Marugame’s tenshukaku was built in 1660. - all major types of ishigaki constructed are evident at the castle: nozura-zumi, uchikomi-hagi and kirikomi-hagi. - Ōteichinomon and Ōteninomon (first and secondary main gate) form a masugata defensive courtyard (or “kill pit” as I affectionately call them).

- Genkansaki go’mon , Bansho (guards’ house) and Nagaya (long house), forming what’s left of the go’den (palace for the lord).


93 months ago
Score 0++
The access information is incorrect. It's near Marugame Station. Paul Bunyan may be able to walk from Kagawa Station to Marugame Castle in 10 minutes, but that'd take many days for most people!

Kiddus i2003Gunshi

93 months ago
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The legs got a work out climbing up to this castle and then working my way around.


105 months ago
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Access via JR Marugame station


113 months ago
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Kazuo, it's very cool that he could do that work. I spoke with one of the workmen at Himeji this spring. It's sad to think that some of these skills and craftsmanship are disappearing.


117 months ago
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Did 2 castles today. This one and Kawanoejo. This castle is easy to access from the JR-Marugame-station. I walked around the outer bailey before entering. It's a vast terrain. When i passed the Ote Ichinomon gate i went to the information desk. I got a little leaflet and a double coupon. 1 coupon halves the price of the entrance to the tenshu (200yen->100yen) The other gives 30% off the entrance to Nakazu Banshoen(=garden) (1000yen->700yen). The way up to the tenshu is very steep. The sakura in the ninomaru were loosing their petals. There were still alot with flowers. This gave a nice pink blanket. The tenshu is very small, containing some artifacts. The museum in the outer bailey is free to go. It has not alot to show, but some of the kabuto i saw were really unusual. For ishigaki-lovers, this is a place to go, these are really impressive.


119 months ago
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The tower is very small and has few artifacts but the rock walls and the view are awesome.


156 months ago
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I went and visited this castle over the New Year break. This is a very impressive castle. Although there isn’t much left except for the tenshu (keep) and the main gate, the walls more than make up for it. The whole top two-thirds or so of the hill is encased in stone walls. In a way, from a distance, it sort of looks like one of those Mayan pyramids in Mexico. At the foot of the wall to the sannomaru (third bailey), you get the impression that they are even higher than the western honmaru (main bailey) walls at Iga-Ueno Castle, but in reality, they are 5 metres shorter, at only 23 metres tall. If you love castles with lots of stone walls and concentric layers and layers of defences including a flooded moat, this is one Japanese castle that you should visit. Based on the sheer number and the height of some of the walls, this is probably one of the most outstanding castles that I have visited in Japan, rating it above other small original castles like Maruoka and Bitchu-Matsuyama. A fellow castle enthusiast and I spent over 4 hours just walking around the place. It is easily accessible by train and is about 15 minutes on foot from the JR Marugame Station. Using local trains and a JR Seishun-18 ticket, it takes around 4 hours one-way from Kyoto or an hour from Okayama.