Majestic Japanese Castles

Japanese castles served as military defenses and were strategically placed in trading routes, rivers, and roads. They were also the center of governance in Japanese states. When the central government’s authority began to weaken sometime in the 15th century, Japan entered the chaotic regime of the warring states. These independent states fought each other continuously. The ruling lord (daimyo) of each independent state built his own castle that stood on grounds with a vantage point, such as on top of mountains, in case they were suddenly attacked.

When a central authority was established to govern the whole of Japan by Oda Nobunaga in the mid-16th century (later completed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi), several other larger castles rose around Japan. But this time they were built in plains and hilltops, where they served as military headquarters and a symbol of authority. By 1868, when the feudal age ended, and more so during WWII, many castles were destroyed.  Very few castles that date from the feudal era still stand today, and those that do are build from concrete rather than traditional building materials. But the majestic beauty of Japanese castles, such as Kōchi Castle and Marugame Castle, still gives us a glimpse of the rich culture and history of the Japan of the past.

kochiKōchi Castle (高知城) – after the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Kōchi Castle  was built in the province of Tosa by Yamanouchi Kazutoyo, who ruled the area. Construction took 10 years. It burned down in 1727 and was reconstructed in 1729–53.

 

 

Kōchi Castle. | Reggaeman

The castle underwent major restoration yet again, in 1948–59. Kōchi Castle  is the only castle still in its original location, depending on its original structure. The innermost ring of defense (honmaru)  still stands.

Marugame Castle (丸亀城 ) – built by the Nara clan sometime in 1587 in the Sanuki Province during the Muromachi Period. At first, the castle was the residence of Ikoma Chikamasa. Chikamasa later constructed another castle and gave Marugame castle to his son, Ikoma Kazumasa.

Marugame Castle. | 663highland

In 1615, a shogunal decree stated that there should only be one castle per province. This resulted in the dismantling of Marugame Castle. In 1641, Yamazaki Ieharu was granted fiefdom of a part of western Sanuki for his bravery in the 1638 Shimabara Rebellion. He reconstructed Marugame Castle from its ruins, on its original site. The castle was then turned over to the Kyōgoku clan in 1658 and, during the Meiji Restoration, the Imperial Government took control of it.

 

 

Related post:

Japanese Castles: Symbols of Power and Honor