Hirosaki Castle Keep Lifted As 6 - Year Repair Work Of Stone Walls Begins

Hirosaki castle keep lifted as 6-year repair work of stone walls beginsThe massive tower of Hirosaki castle was slowly lifted off its base as the first large-scale renovation in about a century of the stone walls below got under way.
About 2,000 people attended the Jigiri ceremony on Aug. 16 at Hirosaki park to commemorate the lifting of the castle keep. The fully intact keep will be moved in work called “hikiya” to another site to pave the way for the renovation of a stretch of stone walls that support the keep.

During the ceremony, the 400-ton castle keep was elevated 10 or so centimeters with 27 jacks following calls from Hirosaki Mayor Noriyuki Kasai. Cheers erupted from the crowd as the keep was slowly raised.

“(The transfer of the keep) is risky in terms of hurting tourism,” Kasai said after the ceremony.

The mayor added that he hopes the promotion of the temporary move of the keep for renovations will still attract sightseers to the castle grounds.

“We want to spread the charms of Hirosaki in and outside Japan,” he said.

Among those attending the ceremony was fourth-grader Ayano Arakawa from Saitama Prefecture, who was visiting her mother’s hometown in Hirosaki during the summer holidays.

“I've wanted to know how they were able to move the keep,” the 10-year-old said. “I was amazed that such a massive thing could be lifted.”

Ayano said she will write about her experience for her summer holiday research assignment.

The keep will gradually be raised 70 cm by Aug. 27 and a track will be set up to prepare for the hikiya.

Starting Sept. 3, workers will spend about two and a half months moving the keep horizontally with special jacks to the center of the main enclosure of the castle, located about 70 meters northwest of the keep’s current site.

The keep is scheduled to be returned to its original site six years later.