Marugame Castle also holds the distinction of being one of only 12 castles in Japan with this particular architectural element left intact.  

Marugame City in Kagawa Prefecture already boasts a number of famous sites and bites. Now it can add one more special achievement to the list–its very own RPG.

The Marugame Tourism Association recently released a free, easy-to-play RPG titled Marugame Quest~12 Captive Princesses in order to spread the charm of the city throughout Japan during COVID times. The game can be played by anyone with an internet browser here, but note that it is currently available only in Japanese.

▼ Screenshots of gameplay from Marugame Quest~12 Captive Princesses

The game, which was developed by the city along with dojinshi shop Melonbooks, features famous sightseeing locations such as Marugame Castle, local mascot characters, and the titular 12 princesses (rendered in a detailed anime style). Its basic storyline is that a monster has seized the castle’s keep and now the city’s mascots must rise up to take it back. Another noteworthy inclusion is a real-life treasured sword, Nikkari Aoe, which is actually in the possession of the city. Nikkari Aoe appears in the game as a technique called “Final Aoe Thrash,” which has also been trending as a tag on Japanese Twitter for the past few days.

▼ A poster promoting the actual Nikkari Aoe

It just so happens that our own Japanese-language correspondent, Ayaka Idate, had actually visited Marugame in June 2019. All of the buzz surrounding the game online had Ayaka reminiscing about her own trip to the city, so today she would like to share some photographic memories from her travels.

First, there’s no denying that Marugame Castle was indeed the highlight of her visit.

In fact, she allotted an entire day to exploring the castle grounds and atmosphere during the day and the night.

On top of being selected as one of Japan’s 100 famous castles, it’s one of only twelve left in Japan with the original wooden keep still intact.

The view from the keep is spectacular, to say the least. You can see the whole town and even the ocean in the background. Ayaka cautions that the stairwell up is very narrow and a bit scary to climb down, but the reward is worth it in the end.

In addition, the castle’s stone wall is the tallest of its kind in Japan, at over 50 meters (164 feet) high. Sadly, a section of the wall collapsed as a result of the torrential rains in western Japan in 2018. Its restoration is taking massive amounts of time and funding and is still not completed as of this year.

There are many ways to financially support the reconstruction efforts besides direct donations, such as through buying themed goods, commemorative stamps, and even a tax diversion program for locals to opt into.

Switching gears a bit now, other famous spots within the city include the Nakazubanshoen garden and Uchiwa no Minato Museum, the latter of which pays tribute to Marugame being the top producer of traditional uchiwa flat fans in all of Japan.

The area surrounding Marugame Station has a vintage, retro vibe and Ayaka decided to spend her second and final day wandering around town. When she visited the station area it was early afternoon on a weekday and she could explore many shops during her leisurely stroll. The locals radiated a warmth and calmness that made her feel completely at home.

She was especially impressed by the unique strawberry daifuku she spotted at one shop.

They were almost too pretty to eat, but that didn’t stop her from indulging in the end.

In addition, the island of Shikoku, and Kagawa Prefecture in particular, is well-known for udon in general. Marugame is no exception. Ayaka enjoyed a delicious bowl of the piping-hot noodles for lunch.

However, that doesn’t mean udon is the only delicious thing around. Bone-in chicken thighs are another Marugame specialty that have even inspired one of the city’s mascot characters. The chicken thighs provide a delicious alternative for anyone who’s just not in a noodle kind of mood.

Once it’s safe to travel, Ayaka definitely encourages readers to visit Marugame in person to appreciate the castle and other charms of the city. In the meantime, the fantasy RPG with real-life geographical elements is a welcome distraction and virtual replacement.

Reference: Marugame Tourism Association
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