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TAK'S GUIDE TO JAPANESE CASTLES

 

 

EDO-JO

 

  

Corner tower and moatANijubashi(Dual Bridge), Tatsumi Tower

 

AKA

CHIYODA-JO, KOKYO

LOCATION

CHIYODA-ku, CHUOH-ku, MINATO-ku, SHINJUKU-ku, TAITOH-ku, TOKYO

CONSTRUCTOR

Ohta Dohkan

YEAR OF CONSTRUCTION

1457

REMAINS

Keeps, remains of donjon, gates, bridges, stone works

MY FIRST VISIT

1999

NOTES

  Although Edo-jo was first constructed by a minor regional warlord Ohta Dohkan in the 15th century, minor fortifications had been constructed since the late Heian era (11th century).

  After the death of Dohkan, Edo-jo was taken over by the Hojo family, a major regional warlord. Edo-jo was neglected for nearly a century.

  Edo-jo became a center of historical attention in 1590, when it was designated the main castle of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who later became the first Shogun of the Edo Shogunate.

  Ieyasu, upon entering the castle, reconstructed the castle literally from the ground up, until it became the largest castle in Japan. Construction continued even after Ieyasu's death. It saw completion during the reign of the third Shogun Iemitsu.

  Although it took nearly 50 years to complete, the entire castle complex deteriorated soon after, starting from the destruction of the donjon (central tower) by a major fire in 1657.

  Currently, Edo-jo is better known as 'KOHKYO', or the Imperial Residence.

 

  

Nijubashi(Dual Bridge), Hirakawa Gate, Tatsumi Tower

 

T O P

 

MATSUMOTO-JO

 

Donjon (central tower)

 

AKA

FUKASHI-JO, KARASU-JO

LOCATION

MATSUMOTO City, NAGANO

CONSTRUCTOR

Ishikawa Kazumasa, Yasunaga

YEAR OF CONSTRUCTION

 

REMAINS

Central keep, secondary keep, main donjon, and minor donjons (designated 'National Treasure')

MY FIRST VISIT

2000

NOTES

  Matsumoto-jo was built by Ishikawa Kazumasa in late 16th century. With central keep, secondary keep, and tertiary keep, as well as residences for retained samurais, the entire castle complex covered an area of nearly forty thousand square meters.

  After the Meiji Restoration (end of shogun's rule) in 1867, donjon was slated to be torn down, but it was purchased by a private citizen who called for its preservation. Since then, many citizens have called for its preservation every time it faced the danger of destruction.

  Currently, the donjon is designated 'National Treasure', and is preserved by Matsumoto City under the supervision of the central government.

 

The central towers viewed from the central keep.

 

T O P

 

MARUOKA-JO

 

Donjon (central tower)

 

AKA

KASUMIGA-JO

LOCATION

KASUMI-cho, MARUOKA-cho, SAKAI-gun, FUKUI

CONSTRUCTOR

Shibata Katsutoyo

YEAR OF CONSTRUCTION

1575

REMAINS

Central keep, donjon

MY FIRST VISIT

 

NOTES

  Maruoka-jo was built by Shibata Katsutoyo, a nephew of a major warlord Shibata Katsuie, in 1575. After Shibata family lost the power struggle between Toyotomi Hideyoshi (who later became the ruler of Japan), the castle changed hands frequently until the Meiji Restoration (end of shogun's rule) in 1867.

  The donjon is reported to be the oldest remaining.

  Maruoka-jo was designated 'National Treasure' after Meiji Restoration (end of Shogun's rule), but was destroyed in the Fukui Earthquake of 1948. The current donjon was reconstructed using materials recycled from the destroyed donjon. It was later designated 'Major Cultural Artifact'

T O P

 

NAGOYA-JO

 

Donjon (central tower), reconstructed after WWII

 

AKA

HOSA-JO, YORYO-JO, KAMEO-JO

LOCATION

NAGOYA-city, AICHI

CONSTRUCTOR

Tokugawa Ieyasu

YEAR OF CONSTRUCTION

1612

REMAINS

Central keep, secondary keep, stone works, corner towers (2), gates

MY FIRST VISIT

1996

NOTES

  Nagoya-jo was one of many castles constructed by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu to surround and isolate Toyotomi family's Osaka-jo (Old). Major sections of the castle were completed in 1614. Since Ieyasu avoided direct confrontation until then, Ieyasu viewed Nagoya-jo as strategically significant.

  Nagoya-jo had a main donjon and a smaller donjon. Another smaller donjon was planned, but that plan was scrapped because Ieyasu won the war with the Toyotomi family, and Nagoya-jo lost its strategic significance.

  While other donjons built by the Shogunate such as Osaka-jo (New) and Edo-jo were lost in fires, Nagoya-jo's donjon remained standing even after the Meiji Restoration (end of shogun's rule) in 1867.

  After the Meiji Restoration, all structures in the secondary keep were torn down (shameful loss), but the structures in the central keep were maintained by the Imperial Army. But majority, including the donjon, were destroyed during air raids in World War II (even greater shame).

 

  

Donjon, Hokusei (Northwest) Tower, Nansei (Southwest) Tower

 

  

Nantou (Southeast) Tower, Otemon (Main Gate), moat and Donjon

 

T O P

 

INUYAMA-JO

 

Donjon (central tower)

 

AKA

HAKUTEI-JO

LOCATION

INUYAMA-city, AICHI

CONSTRUCTOR

Oda Nobuyasu

YEAR OF CONSTRUCTION

1537

REMAINS

Central keep, donjon (National Treasure)

MY FIRST VISIT

1996

NOTES

  Inuyama-jo's donjon is said to be the oldest remaining.

  Although Inuyama-jo is noted today for its cultural significance and magnificent view from the Kiso river, its history is written in blood, with retainers shifting by its destruction in battles.

  It was originally built by the Oda family, but when a power struggle within the Oda family started, it was attacked and destroyed by Oda Nobunaga who eventually won the struggle (and later became the ruler of Japan).

  In 1618, Inuyama-jo came under the possession of the Narise family. It became a government property after the Meiji Restoration (end of Shogun's rule) in 1867. It once again became Narise family's possession after it was destroyed in an earthquake, when Narise family agreed to restore it.

  For a long time, it was the only privately-owned castle in Japan. But Narise family agreed to relinquish its ownership to avoid the huge inheritance tax payment that was likely to occur. For tourists visiting the castle, there will be no visible change, but for me, the castle lost some of its appeal.

 

 

Donjon, Inuyama-jo viewed from the riverbank of Kiso river

 

T O P

 

HIKONE-JO

 

Donjon (central tower)

 

AKA

KINKI-JO

LOCATION

HIKONE-City, SHIGA

CONSTRUCTOR

Ii Naotsugu, Ii Naotaka

YEAR OF CONSTRUCTION

1603

REMAINS

Central keep, secondary keep, stone works, moats, donjon (National Treasure), corner towers

MY FIRST VISIT

1996

NOTES

  Hikone-jo was built by the Ii family in 1603, and remained in their possession until the Meiji Restoration (end of Shogun's rule) in 1867.

  Structures remaining in the castle were slated to be torn down after the Meiji Restoration. But when Emperor Meiji visited Hikone City, Ohkuma Shigenobu, one of the ministers accompanying the Emperor, advised the preservation of the castle. The Emperor agreed, and Hikone-jo was saved from destruction.

  Now, I wonder why other castles were not rescued the same way.

  Hikone-jo's donjon is designated 'National Treasure'.

 

Tenbin Yagura (Tower)

 

T O P

 

AZUCHI-JO

 

Stone works of the central tower

 

AKA

 

LOCATION

AZUCHI Town, SHIGA

CONSTRUCTOR

Oda Nobunaga

YEAR OF CONSTRUCTION

1576

REMAINS

Central keep, secondary keep, stone works

MY FIRST VISIT

1996

NOTES

  Azuchi-jo was built by Oda Nobunaga, a powerful warlord who was only a step away from uniting Japan under his rule. European missionaries, upon seeing this castle, exclaimed that it is more magnificent than any castle in Europe.

  Azuchi-jo lasted only for three years, destroyed upon the assassination of Nobunaga.

  Fearing Nobunaga's curse, even the all-powerful Edo Shogunate left the castle remains untouched.

  Research of Azuchi-jo began only recently.

 

The central keep. Stone works at the far end of the keep is that of the central tower.

 

T O P

 

NIJO-JO

 

 Ninomaru-goten (secondary keep palace), a 'National Treasure'

 

AKA

NIJO DETACHED PALACE

LOCATION

KYOTO City, KYOTO

CONSTRUCTOR

Tokugawa Ieyasu

YEAR OF CONSTRUCTION

1603

REMAINS

Central Keep, Secondary Keep, Stone Wall, Moat, Secondary Keep Palace ('National Treasure')

MY FIRST VISIT

1984

NOTES

  Nijo-jo was first built by Oda Nobunaga, a major warlord. Another Nijo-jo was later built in another location by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the ruler of Japan. The current Nijo-jo was built by the first Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, at a location different from the earlier two.

  Presently, the centerpiece of the castle is the Ninomaru-goten (secondary keep palace). It is the only palatial architecture built by the Edo Shogunate that remains today, now that ones in Edo-jo, Nagoya-jo, and Osaka-jo are gone.

 

Tonan Sumi Yagura (Southeast Corner Tower)

 

T O P