Japanese Castle Explorer

by Daniel O'Grady

Samurai's Blood The Baur Collection: Japanese Sword-Fittings and Associated Metalwork

Saga Castle

Images: Daniel O'Grady


Saga Domain

1607 - 1871

Nabeshima  Clan

357,000 Koku

Saga Castle is classified as a flatland castle, and is located in Saga Prefecture. During the pre-modern age, it found itself within the borders of Hizen Province. It is associated with the Nabeshima clan. Dates in use: 1602 - 1871.

Saga domain was one of the more unusual ones, in that a single clan remained in control of it throughout the entire Edo period. That's not to say things were uneventful. The castle itself suffered from the obligatory fires, but also, within the borders of Hizen province were two notable rebellions. The first being the Shimabara rebellion of 1638, the second being the Saga rebellion of 1874. Yet another claim to fame is that the classic book, Hagakure, was written by one of the retainers of the Nabeshima clan.

In 1611, renovations of the prior fortifications were complete. Scarce details remain of what the castle may have looked like at that time. What is known is that there was a five-layered main tower, 80-metre-wide moats and earthen embankments covered with trees to obscure the form of the castle from the outside.

What remains from the Edo period today are some sections of stonework, the very fine Shachi Gate and the Gozanoma. The Gozanoma contained the lord's actual living quarters, and to be honest, it's only some roof tiles & the pillars that have survived from the original building.

Ryuzoji Takanobu

Prior to the Nabeshima clan being in possession of the castle in 1584, it was the Ryūzōji clan who commanded the fortifications at this location. Known then as Muranaka castle, sections of the castle were unearthed toward the bank of the western moat. A marker also exists on the eastern side of the castle showing the location of Takanobu's birth.

Google Map Views (グーグルマップ)

Best view ベストビュー
Orbit view 軌道ビュー


1608 Constructed, completed in 1611.
1726 The Honmaru, Ninomaru & Sannomaru buildings burnt down.
1728 Nino Maru buildings reconstructed.
1835 Nino Maru suffered severe fire damage.
1838 Reconstruction of Honmaru buildings including the Gozonoma and Shachinomon gate completed.
1874 The Saga rebellion. Supported by 3,000 former samurai, Etō Shimpei took control of Saga castle only for it to be taken back about two weeks later. Much of the castle was destroyed.
2004 The Honmaru palace was reopened as a historical museum.

Historical recognition

Shachi Gate & Tsuzuki TurretImportant Cultural Property
SitePrefectural historic site
GozonomaCity designated important cultural property