Koriyama: From Castle Town to Goldfish Wonderland
Koriyama (sometimes called Yamatokoriyama) 大和郡山 is a city in Nara where stands a castle from the Azuchi Momoyama period or more famously known as during the Sengoku Period, the warring period of great samurai warriors and feudal lords such as Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Other than the castle, the city is a nice town expressing Japan's undying love of the once prized fish in Japan: the goldfish. Koriyama being just a few stops away from Kintetsu Nara Station (area of Todai-ji and Nara Park) this city is worth a look.
How famous are the goldfish in this city? The other name for Koriyama is "the Goldfish City." There is a goldfish museum where visitors can visit to learn about goldfish and the history of Japan's fascination with it.
Unfortunately, the castle has been destroyed since the Edo period, but castle ruins still remain and visitors may climb to the top, where they can feel the atmosphere of how Koriyama Castle once stood with important feudal lords living there.
The view from the top is breathtaking.
Koriyama Castle is a nice ancient structure with many cherry blossom trees. The castle is popular during the cherry blossoms season for people to see together with the ruins.
A festival at the castle, Oshiromatsuri, is held from around late March to early April, together with the cherry blossoms in full bloom.
Admission Fee: Free
7 minutes walk from Kintetsu Koriyama Station
15 minutes walk from JR Koriyama Station
History of Koriyama Castle
Koriyama Castle was constructed by Tsutsui Junkei (1549-1584) in 1580. Tsutsui Juneki was the feudal lord of the Yamato province. With the support of Oda Nobunaga, he was able to unify the Yamato province and be appointed as lord of Yamato province letting him construct Koriyama Castle.
After Tsutsui Junkei, Toyotomi Hidenaga (1540 – 1591), the younger brother of the famous samurai warrior and feudal lord of Japanese history, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, moved into Koriyama Castle. Toyotomi Hidenaga made the castle more significant by enlarging the grounds and making a castle, which he saw was more suitable for a feudal lord to live in.
After Toyotomi Hidenaga, the castle was used by various other different members and clans until the end of Edo period.
The City of Goldfish
Koriyama is also very well known for goldfish. The city is said to be Japan’s largest goldfish sanctuary and has a history of cultivating goldfish. Before the Meiji Period, in Japan goldfish were usually pets for the high class. Much more prized than they are today.
There is a goldfish museum where visitors can visit to learn about goldfish cultivation in Koriyama together with the history and historical reference of goldfish in Japan. Japan certainly loves their fish as there are exhibitions of materials such as old books and ukiyoe art on goldfish. In the museum there are about 40 different kinds of goldfish that can be seen. I never imagined there were so many!
Open Hours: 10:00 -17:00 (Closed on Monday every month)
Admission Fee: Free
10 minutes walk from Kintetsu Koriyama Station
17 minutes walk from JR Koriyama Station