Castle in the air: Japan moves 400yo fort by picking it up 2 feet off ground

The castle of Hirosaki with cherry blossom. © Si-take
Figuring out how to restore the foundation of a 400-year-old Japanese castle may seem like a real head-scratcher – especially when that castle weighs 400 tons. But it turns out the answer is quite simple: just pick it up and move it somewhere else.

That's exactly what the Japanese city of Hirosaki decided to do to repair the stone walls underneath the city's castle.

The walls have reportedly been leaning since an earthquake hit the area in 1983. To fix the problem, the castle needed to be moved somewhere else.

And although that move is only taking the castle 230 feet away, it's a process that will take a total of three months, due to the castle's weight and size. The move began in August and will finish in October.

Using hydraulic jacks that lift the castle 2 feet (60 centimeters) in the air, the structure is being put on a dolly system which rolls it to its temporary location.

Once the castle is settled in its new spot, the city will dismantle and rebuild the stone walls. That process will begin next year, and will take about 10 years to complete.


The castle is expected to return to its original location in autumn 2021. Work will continue on the stone walls for an additional five years once the castle is back in place.

The city decided to relocate the castle in its complete form since the building is recognized by the government as part of the nation's cultural heritage, an official told The Wall Street Journal.

Hirosaki Castle was built by the Tsugaru clan in 1611. It is one of only 12 surviving Edo-era (1603-1867) castles in the country.