Iwatsuki Castle (岩槻城) was constructed in the mid-15th century in what is now Saitama City in Saitama Prefecture. It was the residence of the Ota (太田) clan in the early 16th century and afterwards taken over by the Late Hōjō. During Toyotomi Hideyoshi's siege of Odawara Castle in 1590, the castle fell within a few days. In the early Edo Period, many fudai daimyō (feudal lords who were hereditary vassals to the Tokugawa family) became lords of Iwatsuki Castle which was regarded as an essential fortification in defence of Edo. Nowadays, the former castle grounds are part of the Iwatsuki Castle Site Park.
Walking to the park from Iwatsuki Station I came across several traditional Hina doll shops. Legend has it that some of the craftsmen who built Nikkō Tōshōgū Shrine settled in Iwatsuki and started to manufacture dolls.
In less than ten minutes I arrived at Senkyokan (遷喬館), a historical school building dating back to the Edo Period (1600-1868). Though just a small building with a thatched roof, it immediately reminded me of an old classroom. It had been formidably restored. I had been there before its restoration, and I could still remember the textbooks that had been casually arranged on the shelves and a staff member showing me one.
A bell tower in the residential area; it was said that even people in Edo could hear the sound of the bell.
Then I finally arrived at the park. Although in case of many ancient castle sites the main or second enclosures were converted into parks, this park is situated in the former outer ring of the castle. The main enclosure had already been destroyed, and only the name of the place, Honmaru (inner bailey), reminds us of the former structure. The castle is now located in a plain area that was surrounded by marshland in the old days.
Only a few original structures remain. The black rear gates had been moved from another location and rebuilt at the castle site.
The earthworks and the dried moats were conserved to some extent as well.
The park is well maintained and a popular retreat for locals and tourists alike.
The park area encompasses only one of the former enclosures, thus giving us a good impression of the massive scale of the whole castle.
（Date of visit: 9th June 2013）
- Address: Ota, Iwatsuki-ku, Saitama-shi, Saitama Map
- Transportation: 20 minutes from Tobu Noda line Iwatsuki station on foot
- Other sights: Senkyo-kan (the old school of the Edo Period); Bell Tower