Yesterday, I went and explored the ruins of Taga Castle. I started out at one side of the castle and made my wall all around the perimeter of the castle walls and the castle itself and on out to the outward walls and gates. It took me about three hours to do so which didn't seem like a long time but in retrospect, was. So that gives you an idea about how extensive the area is that I covered.
Apparently a lot of the castle itself was sacked and burned, rebuilt and then destroyed in a tsunami in 869.
The ruins that we see aren't really much of ruins as much as filled in concrete and big wooden stubs of logs put in places where the pillar holes were so that we can see understand how the castle was laid out without actually rebuilding the entire thing. (This is due to research from archaeologists and they always show images from the digs themselves next to every "ruin") It's kind of an interesting way to examine ruins. It was also pretty cool because the ruins are among the normal homes and farms of people in the area. So you walk along these paths to the various parts of the ruins but run into people working in their rice paddies.
Not actually part of the castle. It was a random little shrine I stopped at first.
This is from one of the gatehouse areas. I took a picture of the rice paddies nearby.
The castle grounds themselves. This is from the edge where the walls were. (You can see the raised earth)
Castle wall foundation (not sure if this is real or recreated)
This is a model of the castle with the castle ruins behind it so you have an idea of what it looked like.
The steps to the castle - or what's left of them?
One of the paths to the outward walls of the fortress
Between outlooks for the outward wall, there is a rather steep incline. Rather than risk going down and up on the path, I just took the well-traveled and paved path.
These flowers were beautiful and this picture doesn't do it justice.
I think this is original. Here is a stone road that was built in the Heian Period (794 to 1185) that runs along one of the north walls. (There were several north walls that I assume depend on the castle boundaries of the given era) I assume it's original because it's unlikely this road would have been destroyed by a tsunami and that's a lot of work to recreate a road (laying all those stones) when you aren't bothering to rebuild the castle itself.
After I wandered back into town, I ran into three middle schoolers who were excited to talk to an American but our communication was very poor. All I got out of it was that the boy played center back on his soccer team at Northeast Junior High and he likes punk music and one of the girls like BIGBANG. I'm not sure what they figured out about me besides the fact that I am indeed an American and I was looking for the train station.
I've decided that if I would be pretty happy living in a city the size of Tagajo (which felt smaller than Matsushima but is actually three times larger than it) if I could live near a bigger city like Sendai. It was really quite heavenly to walk along the rice paddies and greet everyone I saw.