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by Bob Kerstetter
The unifier of Japan in the last part of the 16th Century, Toyotomi Hideyoshi built Wakayama Castle on a hill overlooking the city of Wakayama. The hill is shaped like a tiger reclining on its stomach and looking around.
Today, Wakayama City is the capital of Wakayama Prefecture. The city faces the Pacific Ocean and Japan’s Inland Sea. The Kinokawa River runs through the city.
Over the years the castle has been repaired and expanded several times. During World War II it was damaged, but not destroyed, by incendiary bombs. Parts of Wakayama City—but not the castle—were targets because of military manufacturing. The US Army Air Corps chose incendiary bombs to burn the wood structures in the city.
After the war, the people of Wakayama volunteered to rebuild and renovate the castle using its original style taken from drawings and employing ferro-cement for its exterior walls. They completed their work in 1956. The Shōwa Emperor visited the castle in 1957.
Improvements continue today on the castle grounds, now a city park. The park is free. There is a modest entry fee to visit the castle.
The Reclining Tiger represents the shape of the Wakayama Castle hill.