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Shiroishi Castle

Shiroishi Castle

Although various theories vary as to the exact date the first castle was built in Shiroishi, historical documents indicate that Shiroishi Castle was occupied by Lord Kageyu Hyoe Kageyori Yashiro from 1586 to 1591. In 1602, the castle was handed to Lord Kojuro Kagetsuna Katakura by Masamune Date- one of leading daimyo (feudal rulers) in the Tohoku (Northern Japan) region of Japan. For ten generations and over 260 years, the Katakura family resided in Shiroishi castle until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

During the Boshin War in the mid 1800s, the castle was used as the site for the first gathering of the Ouetsu Reppan Alliance. The Alliance consisted of 25 feudal lords from the Tohoku and neighboring regions who were trying to prevent the Aizu Clan in Fukushima from falling to reformist aggression from the south.

Shiroishi Castle prospered as the residence of the Katakura Clan from the time of Kojuro Kagetsuna Katakura whom was a devoted follower of Masamune Date. The castle was pulled down in 1875, after the Meiji Restoration, but restored in 1995 using traditional Japanese building methods. The castle was reconstructed by the ardent desire of Shiroishi citizens and it will exist hundreds of years into the future, accompanying a new chapter of the history of Shiroishi.

The Shiroishi Castle History Exploration Museum

Shiroishi's old map

The Shiroishi Castle History Exploration, adjacent to the Castle, exhibits materials that will aid your understanding of the overall structure and history of the Castle.

The Shiroishi Castle was rebuilt at the corner of Masuoka Park in the very same location it occupied before the castle was pulled down. At that time, many other buildings occupied the surrounding area.

The 3D Movie Theater
Highvision Theater

The Shiroishi Castle History Exploration Museum houses a three-dimensional high-vision movie theater. The theater shows original 3D movies that narrates the history of Shiroishi. Since May 1997, the theater has been showing the second original film titled "The Demon Lord Kojuro". In this film, Jo Shishido, a former graduate of Shiroishi High School plays the role of Kojuro Kagetsuna Katakura.

The previous work "We Are Not Thieves" also presents a fascinating background into Shiroishi Castle and its history.

Former Residence of Samurai Koseki

Residance of Samurai

The former residence of a middle-class samurai, which once served as the outer moat of Shiroishi Castle is located along the Sawabata River. Historical documents indicate that the Samurai Koseki Residence was constructed in 1730. The first of the Samurai Koseki Family to live here was a vassal to Lord Katakura.

In 1992, the Koseki House was generously donated to the City of Shiroishi. The city then restored the construction to its original state and opened the house to the public. The house is simple in design, having a traditional three-room floor plan. Originally, the house was constructed as a farmer’s house, but was later renovated to befit member of the Samurai class.

Cross the old clay bridge, through the humble gate, and enter the house with the thatched roof. A visit to the house and gardens will make you feel as if you have stepped back in time to the Edo period (1600-1867).

Family Cemetery of Lord Katakura

Family cemetary of Lord Katakura

At the foot of Mt. Atagoyama on the outskirts of Shiroishi lies the Family Cemetery of Lord Kojuro Kagetsuna Katakura. Ten generations of the feudal lords’s family are buried in this area amidst densely forested cedar trees.

The seventh generation castle lord Murakane’s wife is also buried here in the second plot from the right. Murakane’s wife was born a Date of the Sendai Feudal Clan. As a gesture of great respect to the powerful family, she was buried here together with the male members of the Katakura Family.
On the tenth generation castle lord, Munekage’s grave, there is a tombstone in place of a Buddhist statue. Munekage died just after the Meiji Restoration, during which period, feudalism was abolished and imperial rule was restored. By this time, the Katakura’s had lost their position in society and were no longer financially able to provide statues as memorials.

Surrounded by a fence of round granite stones, the statues of the Amida Buddha represent the souls of all the Katakura lords. The Buddha’s look towards the direction of Shiroishi Castle as though they are wishing for the peace and prosperity of Shiroishi.

Shiroishi City Theatre for Noh and Classical Performing Arts

Noh Stage

Garden of Hekisuien
Completed in 1992, The Hekisuien was built to preserve the city’s heritage in Japanese Performing Arts. Originated in 14th century, Noh combines dance, music, poetry, and drama, thus making it Japan’s oldest traditional form of drama. Noh performers wear unique classical costumes and masks called Noh-men. The movements of the actors are slow and deliberate. The term Noh itself is a Buddhist term which refers to the mental bond between the performers and the audience.

Shiroishi’s former ruler, Lord Kojuuro- Kagetsuna Katakura, an outstanding scholar and warrior was said to have always carried a Noh Flute tied to his waist. On and off the battlefield, Lord Katakura would play classical melodies like ‘Shio-kaze’ to entertain himself and others. Thus the foundation of Shiroishi Theatre for Noh and Classical Performing Arts was built, and named ‘Hekisui-en’ in Lord Katakura’s honor.

From time to time, tea ceremonies are held here, offering residents an opportunity to experience the courtesy and tranquility of the tea ceremony in a truly unique setting.

Yajiro Kokeshi Museum

Kokeshi Museum

inside the museum

The Kokeshi doll is a traditional folk art form of Japan, dating back to the 1830’s. All traditional dolls are made of wood and are characterized by a slender body, round head, hand-painted features and no arms or legs. Traditional Kokeshi dolls have distinctive characteristics connecting them to their specific region of origin.

Yajiro Kokeshi Dolls are characterized by a wheel-shaped pattern at the top which looks like a beret cap. The name of these Kokeshi dolls is derived from Yajiro village, located at the foot of Mt. Fubo. Wood artisans have produced Kokeshi dolls in this village for many years.

Yajiro Kokeshi Mura displays exhibits on the history of these wood artisans and their way of life. You can watch the artisans actually make Kokeshi dolls, and many of these dolls are sold here. You can even attempt to paint your own Kokeshi doll!

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