400: That’s about how many years old Japan’s Hirosaki Castle is. It’s also how many tons it weighs. And yet it was successfully lifted two feet in the air and 230 feet down the road.


That’s the insane restoration feat accomplished last week in Japan’s Hirosaki City in Aomori prefecture on the main island’s northern tip. The Wall Street Journal reports that it’s all part of a six-year plan to repair the aged stone foundation on which the castle sits. Or sat, as the case would be: Starting last Thursday, city officials lifted the tower up and away, and estimate that the castle can be returned to its position in five years.

To move the building, which was built in 1611, the team used steel hydraulic jacks and moved it with a simple dolly. Considering the castle seems to be hugging a ledge leading to a river, I’d have been especially nervous, but the process was successful.


The process itself, though, is far from new or novel: It’s called “house-moving,” and involves plucking a building from its original establishment and plopping it somewhere else. You can disassemble the structure and rebuild it later, or use dollies to lift the thing whole, then ferry it short distances. CBS reported earlier this year that it’s apparently becoming popular among American homeowners. There are entire companies devoted to it, and there’s even an International Association of Structural Movers. And Hirosaki Castle is far from the only historic gem to be moved in such a fashion.

It’s official: Howl isn’t the only one with a moving fortress in Japan.

[Hirosaki Tourism and Convention Bureau via WSJ and NewsOnJapan.com]



GIF via Euronews YouTube, bottom image via Shutterstock