Cash reward offered for materials that assist Morioka Castle restoration

Courtesy of Morioka City government
A photo shows Morioka Castle before it was demolished. The photo has been preserved by Seiyoin temple.

MORIOKA – The Morioka city government is offering a reward of up to ¥10 million for architectural plans, photos or other materials that reveal details of the structure of Morioka Castle, as the wheels start turning on restoring the castle.

The castle ruins are a nationally designated historic site, but there are very few materials that describe or depict how the castle looked centuries ago. Only parts of the castle’s original stone walls and moat still remain.

“We hope offering this reward will help unearth materials that will provide a basis for the castle’s restoration,” a city government official said.

According to the city government, the castle was built over almost 40 years from 1597. The walls of the castle’s keep, ninomaru secondary circle of defense, sannomaru outermost outworks and other structures are all made of stone, which is unusual for castles in the Tohoku region.

The castle came under the jurisdiction of the then Army Ministry after the Meiji Restoration, and most of its buildings were demolished. The ruins were designated a national historic site in 1937.

Efforts to rebuild the castle started picking up speed last year. The city government began repairing the sannomaru stone walls that were at risk of collapsing. These walls had not been repaired for about 300 years. In April 2022, the city government also established a Morioka Castle restoration survey promotion office.

However, few materials with information about the castle have been uncovered so far. According to the promotion office, only one photo of the castle in bygone days exists, and no 3D plans or drawings have been found.

Consequently, the city government decided it needed to turbocharge the drive to unearth materials necessary for restoring the castle.

In September, the Morioka government launched the cash reward program in hopes of collecting photos of the castle keep, yagura turrets and a main gate, as well as plans and other materials that show various castle structures.

“I hope this appeal for materials will help to spur interest in Morioka Castle and become a foundation for discussions on restoring the castle,” said Yoshihiro Kikuchi, a senior official at the promotion office.

The reward will be available until the end of March 2023.