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Matsumae Castle

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Matsumae Castle

Matsumae Castle

Matsumae is a former castle town just west of Cape Shirakami, the southernmost point of Hokkaido. Only 20 kilometers across the Tsugaru Strait from Aomori, Matsumae was the northern limit of Japan during the Edo Period and the sole feudal estate on the otherwise wild, untamed frontier of Hokkaido. Matsumae Castle was the only Japanese style castle to be built in Hokkaido. Its garrison served to protect the prosperous town which attracted merchants engaged in the shipping trade.

Built on a hillside vantage point, Matsumae Castle (also known as Fukushima Castle) cemented a foothold on Hokkaido from where to tap the island's abundant natural resources. Toward the end of the Edo Period, the castle was outfitted with cannon’s to counter the threat of foreign ships. As with many Japanese castles, Matsumae Castle's original keep was destroyed several times over the centuries. The building that stands three stories high is a modern concrete reconstruction from the early 1960s. Inside is a local history museum displaying a selection of artifacts of the Matsumae clan, including some items related to the Ainu.



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