At last! Amagasaki gets its castle back
The original Amagasaki Castle was dismantled during the Meiji Restoration in the late nineteenth century. The local people have called for it to be rebuilt on numerous occasions, but a lack of funds and a stagnant economy defeated each of these plans. Things changed in 2015, when Akira Abo, founder of a home appliance retailer, volunteered to fund the rebuilding of the castle keep with his own money. The billion-yen scheme was his way of giving back to the city where he began his company.
Abo is revered by locals, and his story of bootstrapping success is known by some wags as the Ama-rican dream.
Building a castle is a collective effort
Funding was secured for construction, but many questions remained regarding the make-up of the castle and the running costs of its upkeep. The people of Amagasaki leaped in to help. A call from the city government saw current and former citizens and other like-minded people donate a whopping [amount] yen, including one pensioner who came to city hall and insisted on donating a large wad of cash. Donators were allowed to inscribe a message on the underside of roofing tiles, and the messages are indicative of the local heart: “Proud of Amagasaki, a real castle town”; “Amagasaki, restored to its former glory”; “Ever the most livable city.”
The little castle that could
Amagasaki Castle is just three minutes’ walk from Amagasaki Station—in fact, it’s visible from the platform. Easily accessible for commuters, shoppers, and visitors, its lack of pretension (even the “viewing deck” at 23 meters elevation is dwarfed by some nearby apartment blocks, whose residents can look down on the castle) is in keeping with the unvarnished nature of Amagasaki itself.
But that is no disadvantage; in fact, it is a positive. For instance, because it is made of reinforced concrete using modern technology, it is in no danger of becoming a protected cultural property, so it can be used for all sorts of purposes, and hopes are high that the new castle will come to define a new era for Amagasaki.
Look out! It’s Gasaking α!
Fans of kaiju movies know that the monsters crush famous skyscrapers, towers, and castles. Little wonder, then, that a kaiju appeared from below the Sanwa shopping arcade a year after the announcement of the castle rebuilding. They call him Gasaking α, and locals have noted the ominously coincidental timing of his appearance. Visitors to the Sanwa shopping arcade should be careful of monstrous rumblings when in the vicinity!