Tsuruga Castle, Where the Past Meets the Present
Tsuruga Castle in the city of Aizuwakamatsu (Fukushima Prefecture) played a decisive role in Japan's transition from the feudal samurai era to a modern society. This time on Journeys in Japan, architect James Lambiasi visits the castle and other remarkable sites, meeting local people for whom Aizu's history still remains alive in their hearts.

Tsuruga Castle

Built with magnificent stone walls, Tsuruga Castle is the iconic heart of Aizuwakamatsu. During the civil war of 1868, the Aizu domain supported the ousted shogunate against the forces of the new Meiji government. The castle became the stage for fierce fighting, leading to the tragic demise of the Byakkotai, a military unit composed of samurai warriors still in their teens.


This garden was laid out for a feudal lord who ruled in Aizuwakamatsu some 600 years ago. Later, fields were set aside for growing and studying medicinal herbs, to help maintain the health of the people living in the Aizu domain.

Aizu Sazae-do (Entsusanso-do)

This Buddhist prayer hall, which was built from timber in 1796, has an unusual, double-helix structure that is unique in Japan. It has been designated as an important cultural asset of the nation.


To reach Aizuwakamatsu from Tokyo, you take the Shinkansen bullet train to Koriyama, then change on to a local train on the JR Ban-etsu West Line. In all, the journey takes about three hours.