Japan's Top 100 Castles
The castles in Japan's Top 100 Castles were chosen based on their significance in culture, in their regions by the Japanese Castle Foundation in 2006. List of castles in Japan List of National Treasures of Japan Media related to 100 Fine Castles of Japan at Wikimedia Commons Japan Castle Foundation
Komine Castle is a Japanese castle located in what is now the city of Shirakawa, southern Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. Throughout the middle to Edo period, Komine Castle was home to the Abe clan, daimyō of Shirakawa Domain, it was referred to as Shirakawa-Komine Castle or Shirakawa Castle. The castle is one of the 100 Fine Castles of Japan, in 2007 was designated a National Historic Site; the castle grounds are a noted venue for viewing sakura in spring. Komine Castle is located on a long and narrow hill extending 500 meters from east to west, located on a bend of the Abukuma River, which forms part of the natural defenses of the site; the central area at end of this hill is flattened into two enclosures, protected by tall stone walls. At the northeastern corner, was a three-story yagura which substituted for a true donjon. Along the north and west lines were huge earthen ramparts using portions of the original terrain. South of the central area, protected by a wide water moat, was a secondary enclosure 200 x 100 meters which contained the residence of the lord.
The east side of the castle was further protected by outer barrier. The construction of Komine Castle began in 1340 by Yūki Chikatomo, is a small hilltop fortification with earthen palisades. After the fall of the Satake clan in 1589, the Yūki allied with the Date clan to the north; the Yūki survived as retainers to the Date, but their territory became part of the holdings of Aizu Domain under the Gamō clan. Under the Gamō, the castle was modernized with stone walls; the castle was held by the Gamo until 1627. After the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate, Niwa Nagashige was transferred from Tanagura Domain to become daimyō of the newly created 100,000 koku Shirakawa Domain in 1627 and rebuilt and expanded Komine Castle between 1628 and 1632. During the remainder of the Edo period, the castle passed through the hands of seven daimyō clans with a total of 21 daimyō before reverting to direct control of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1866, on the eve of the Boshin War. During this period the most famous ruler of Shirakawa was Matsudaira Sadanobu.
During the Boshin War, Shirakawa was a stronghold of the pro-Tokugawa Ōuetsu Reppan Dōmei and came under attack during the Battle of Aizu by the pro-imperial army of the Satchō Alliance. Although the invading army was outnumbered, it had superior artillery, Komine Castle had been designed to defend against attacks from the north, so its southern approached were more fortified; the castle fell to the Meiji government on May 1, 1868. Many of the structures of the castle were destroyed during the battle, much of what remained, including a large section of its stone walls, were pulled down following the abolition of the han system; the site was transformed into a public park. In 1991, a three-story donjon was reconstructed on the foundations of the original donjon, in 1994 one of the gates was restored; these structures suffered significant damage during the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake. The area was granted government protection as a National Historic Site in August 2008. Schmorleitz, Morton S.. Castles in Japan.
Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co. pp. 144–145. ISBN 0-8048-1102-4. Motoo, Hinago. Japanese Castles. Tokyo: Kodansha. P. 200 pages. ISBN 0-87011-766-1. Mitchelhill, Jennifer. Castles of the Samurai: Power and Beauty. Tokyo: Kodansha. P. 112 pages. ISBN 4-7700-2954-3. Turnbull, Stephen. Japanese Castles 1540-1640. Osprey Publishing. P. 64 pages. ISBN 1-84176-429-9. Media related to Komine Castle at Wikimedia Commons Jcastle Profile Japanese Castle Explorer
Battle of Sekigahara
The Battle of Sekigahara was a decisive battle on October 21, 1600, that preceded the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate. Tokugawa Ieyasu took three more years to consolidate his position of power over the Toyotomi clan and the various daimyō, but Sekigahara is considered to be the unofficial beginning of the Tokugawa shogunate, the last shogunate to control Japan. Oda Nobunaga had consolidated control over much of Japan and was in control of the Shōgun, Ashikaga Yoshiaki. Yoshiaki tried to escape this predicament in 1573 by attacking Nobunaga, but failed and was exiled, thus ending the Ashikaga shogunate. Nobunaga ruled unopposed until he was betrayed by his own retainer Akechi Mitsuhide and died at the Honnō-ji Incident of 1582. Toyotomi Hideyoshi avenged his master and consolidated control over Japan. Hideyoshi had risen from humble roots – his father was an ashigaru – to become the ruler of Japan, his death created a power vacuum, resolved by the outcome at Sekigahara. Though Toyotomi Hideyoshi unified Japan and consolidated his power following the Siege of Odawara in 1590, his failures in his invasions of Korea weakened the Toyotomi clan's power as well as the support of the loyalists and bureaucrats who continued to serve and support the Toyotomi clan after Hideyoshi's death during the second invasion.
The presence of Hideyoshi and his brother Hidenaga kept the two main factions of the time, which rallied behind Ishida Mitsunari and Tokugawa Ieyasu from anything more than quarrelling, but when both of them died, the conflicts were exacerbated and developed into open hostilities. With no appointed shōgun over the armies, this left a power vacuum in the Japanese government. Most notably, Katō Kiyomasa and Fukushima Masanori were publicly critical of the bureaucrats Ishida Mitsunari and Konishi Yukinaga. Tokugawa Ieyasu took advantage of this situation, recruited them, redirecting the animosity to weaken the Toyotomi clan. Tokugawa Ieyasu was unrivalled in terms of seniority, rank and overall influence within the regency of the Toyotomi clan after the death of regent Maeda Toshiie. Rumours started to spread stating that Ieyasu, at that point the only surviving contemporary ally of Oda Nobunaga, would take over Hideyoshi's legacy just as Nobunaga's was taken; this was evident amongst the loyalist bureaucrats, who suspected Ieyasu of agitating unrest amongst Toyotomi's former vassals.
A supposed conspiracy to assassinate Ieyasu surfaced, many Toyotomi loyalists, including Maeda Toshiie's son, were accused of taking part and forced to submit to Ieyasu's authority. However, Uesugi Kagekatsu, one of Hideyoshi's appointed regents, defied Ieyasu by building up his military; when Ieyasu condemned him and demanded that he come to Kyoto to explain himself, Kagekatsu's chief advisor, Naoe Kanetsugu responded with a counter-condemnation that mocked Ieyasu's abuses and violations of Hideyoshi's rules, Ieyasu was infuriated. Afterwards, Ieyasu summoned the help of various supporters and led them northward to attack the Uesugi clan. Many of them were at that moment besieging Hasedō though. Ishida Mitsunari, grasping the opportunity created by the chaos, rose up in response and created an alliance to challenge Ieyasu's supporters. Ishida, in his home Sawayama Castle, met with Ōtani Yoshitsugu, Mashita Nagamori, Ankokuji Ekei. Here, they forged the alliance, invited Mōri Terumoto to be its head.
Thus formed what came to be referred to as the Western Army. Mōri seized Osaka Castle for their base of operations, since most of Tokugawa’s forces had vacated the area to attack Uesugi. Ishida wanted to reinforce Mōri at the impregnable Osaka Castle; this would let Ishida challenge the Tokugawa. To this end, Ishida’s forces headed for Gifu Castle in order to use it as a staging area to move on Kyoto, since it was controlled by his ally Oda Hidenobu. Back in Edo, Tokugawa Ieyasu received news of the situation in the Kansai region and decided to deploy his forces. Ieyasu himself commanded his subordinates led another 40,000 men; this made up the bulk of what would be called the Eastern Army. He had some former Toyotomi daimyō engage with the Western Army, while he split his troops and marched west on the Tōkaidō towards Osaka. Since the Tokugawa army departed from Edo, it could only take two roads, both of which converged on Gifu Castle. Ieyasu marched on Gifu; this fortress was a halfway point between Osaka and Kyoto and was controlled by the Tokugawa ally Torii Mototada.
Ishida could not risk leaving a force that could attack his rear, so he marched on it. It took him ten days to capture Fushimi, in that time Gifu Castle had fallen; this forced Ishida Mitsunari to retreat southward in the rain. Tired from a day's march and their gunpowder wet from the rain and his forces stopped at Sekigahara. "Ishida deployed his troops in a strong defensive position, flanked by two streams with high ground on the opposite banks." His right flank was reinforced by daimyō Kobayakawa Hideaki on Mount Matsuo. On October 20, 1600, Ieyasu learned that Ishida Mitsunari had deployed his troops at Sekigahara in a defensive position, they had been following the Western Army, benefited from better weather. At dawn of the next day, the Tokugawa advance guard stumbled into Ishida's army. Neither side saw each other due to the dense fog caused by the earlier rain. Both sides panicked and withdrew, but this resulted in both sides being aware of their adversary's presence. Ishida held his current defensi
Banna-ji, nicknamed Dainichisama, is a Buddhist temple in Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. It was built by Ashikaga Yoshikane in 1197 during the Kamakura Period on the site of what had been an early fortified residence in Japan, it became a historic landmark in March 1921 and the main hall was designated a national treasure on May 17, 2012. The temple is located on a 40,000-square meter site, a fortified residence of the Ashikaga Clan. Although Banna-ji is a temple, there are many defensive features on site that indicate its earlier use as a castle, including earthen ramparts and a water moat enclosing the main bailey of this site. There are four extant gates; this site was included in a list of Japan's Top 100 Castles in 2006 by the Japan Castle Foundation. Banna-ji website http://www.jcastle.info/castle/profile/94-Ashikagashi-Yakata Ashikaga City - info about Banna-ji Hondō http://www.jref.com/articles/the-100-top-castles-of-japan.267/
Chashi is the Japanese term for the hilltop fortifications of the Ainu. The word is from チャシ, which means palisade or palisaded compound. Over 520 chashi have been identified in Hokkaidō in the eastern regions of the island. A few, including the Tōya casi of present-day Kushiro, date to the Muromachi period; as such their construction may be related to increased competition for resources as a result of "intensification of trade" with the Japanese. The early Dutch explorer Maarten Gerritsz Vries described the chashi he encountered in eastern Hokkaidō in 1643:These forts were made as follows: on the mountain on which they were placed was a small road steep to climb, round on the four sides palisades were placed of the height … of 1½ man's length. There were large fir doors in the palisades with strong clamps. At the two corners of these... palisades, a high scaffolding is made for a lookout. In 1604 Tokugawa Ieyasu granted exclusive trading rights with the Ainu to the Matsumae clan. Excavated chashi have revealed Japanese lacquerware, ceramics and swords, as well as beads from Sakhalin.
In return the Ainu traded products derived from bird and fish. However, "the market culture of the trading post … destroy the ecological balance … overhunting and overfishing". By the end of the following century, the depletion of natural stocks resulted in famine. Furthermore, "competition over animals and fisheries was at the heart of most Ainu conflicts"; the Ezo hōki and Tsugaru ittōshi recount the internecine conflict of 1668/9, which culminated in massacres of the Japanese, military intervention, subjugation, in what is known as Shakushain's Revolt. According to the Ezo hōki, regional influence among the Ainu was based on "good land", "many utensils", charismatic authority, physical strength. In 1668, disputes over deer, bear cubs, a live crane lead to the Hae elder Chikunashi and his mother burning down the Shibuchari casi and killing the escapees. In response Shakushain sent the Urakawa Ainu to attack the Atsubetsu casi; the conflict escalated the following year into fighting with the Japanese.
Among the five hundred and thirty chashi identified by archaeologists, the sites of eight have been designated national Historic Sites: the Otafunbe chashi. Others known include the Arashiyama casi, Harutoru casi, Onibishi's casi, Sarushina casi, Sashirui casi, Setanai casi, Uraike casi. Although there are nineteen chashi on the Shiretoko Peninsula, it is inscribed as a Natural rather than a mixed Natural and Cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to providing for defence against rival Ainu, casi functioned as centres for gatherings and rituals, they served as "visible symbols of chiefdom power". According to narrative uepeker or folktales and Nemuro Ainu attacked the Uraike casi in the hope of "fine treasure". Japanese castle Gusuku List of Historic Sites of Japan
Ukita Hideie was the daimyō of Bizen and Mimasaka Provinces, one of the council of Five Elders appointed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Son of Ukita Naoie, he married a daughter of Maeda Toshiie. Having fought against Tokugawa Ieyasu in the Battle of Sekigahara he was exiled to the island prison of Hachijō-jima, where he died. Hideie's father Naoie was daimyō of Bizen province and opposed, but sided with Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Naoie died in 1581, in 1582 Hideie became the head of the Ukita clan; as Hideie was still young, it was Hideie's uncle who acted as leader of the Ukita army during the siege of Bitchū Takamatsu Castle in 1582. Nobunaga was assassinated on June 2 of that year, but the siege continued until the castle fell two days later. Hideyoshi raced back to Kyoto, leaving the Ukita clan in charge of Bizen and newly taken parts of Bitchū Provinces; the Ukita were to keep watch on Mōri Terumoto to the west. In 1586, Hideie was married to Gōhime. Hideie joined Hideyoshi's military campaigns in Shikoku and the Siege of Odawara.
Following the unification of Japan under Hideyoshi, Hideie served as a chief commander in the Korean campaigns, returning in 1598 to serve as one of Hideyoshi's five counselors, along with Maeda Toshiie, Uesugi Kagekatsu, Mōri Terumoto, Tokugawa Ieyasu. Hideyoshi died in 1598, leaving his five-year-old son Hideyori as his successor and Tokugawa Ieyasu moved to take control; as he was close to Hideyoshi, Ukita sided with the loyalists. He took 17,000 men to fight in the Battle of Sekigahara, his army fought against Fukushima Masanori in what is said to have been one of the bloodiest confrontations in the battle. Ukita's troops were winning the battle, pushing back Masanori's army however, being unaware that his allies stationed nearby had made a secret deal with the enemy, his momentum was halted when his allies attacked and together with turncoats, Masanori's army took control of and won the battle. One of the defectors, Kobayakawa Hideaki, was granted Okayama Castle and surrounding Ukita territories by the Tokugawa as a reward for his betrayal, believed to have been the decisive factor in the Tokugawa victory.
Hideie was angered by the betrayal and intended to hunt down Kobayakawa for a man-to-man duel but was stopped by his advisors. After escaping the battle, he went into hiding in Satsuma Province where his former allies protected him for several years. In 1603 however, Shimazu Tadatsune informed the Tokugawa shogunate of Hideie's location, he was forced to appear before the Tokugawa himself where he was sentenced to exile on the island of Hachijō-jima, along with several supporters, including his two sons. Hideie's wife sought refuge with the Maeda clan and was able to correspond and send gifts to her husband and sons from there. Hideie outlived his wife and all of the Sengoku Jidai era samurai except Sanada Nobuyuki, he was offered a conditional pardon after Ieyasu's death, but declined and never returned to the mainland. His wife had died, the Toyotomi were defeated, there was no place to return to, his sons had fathered children on Hachijojima, the Shogunate was to be inherited by members of the Tokugawa clan.
There is no evidence to suggest that Hideie fathered any further children himself, but many of his sons' descendants emigrated back to the Japanese mainland when a full pardon was granted at the end of the Edo era. Kodansha.. "Ukita Hideie," in Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan. Tokyo: Kodansha. OCLC 233144013 Okayama City's page on Hideie
Matsumoto Castle is one of Japan's premier historic castles, along with Himeji Castle and Kumamoto Castle. The building is known as the "Crow Castle" due to its black exterior, it was the seat of the Matsumoto domain. It is located in the city of Matsumoto, in Nagano Prefecture and is within easy reach of Tokyo by road or rail; the keep, completed in the late sixteenth century, maintains its original wooden interiors and external stonework. It is listed as a National Treasure of Japan. Matsumoto Castle is a flatland castle because it is not built on a hilltop or amid rivers, but on a plain, its complete defences would have included an extensive system of inter-connecting walls and gatehouses. The castle's origins go back to the Sengoku period. At that time Shimadachi Sadanaga of the Ogasawara clan built a fort on this site in 1504, called Fukashi Castle. In 1550 it came under the rule of the Takeda clan and Tokugawa Ieyasu; when Toyotomi Hideyoshi transferred Ieyasu to the Kantō region, he placed Ishikawa Kazumasa in charge of Matsumoto.
Kazumasa and his son Yasunaga built the tower and other parts of the castle, including the three towers: the keep and the small tower in the northwest, both begun in 1590, the Watari Tower. They were instrumental in laying out the castle town and its infrastructure, it is believed much of the castle was completed by 1593–94. During the Edo period, the Tokugawa shogunate established the Matsumoto Domain, of which the Matsudaira and others were the daimyōs. For the next 280 years until the abolition of the feudal system in the Meiji Restoration, the castle was ruled by the 23 lords of Matsumoto representing six different daimyō families. In this period the stronghold was known as Crow Castle because its black walls and roofs looked like spreading wings. In 1872, following the Meiji Restoration, the site, along with many former daimyōs' castles, was sold at auction for redevelopment; when news broke that the keep was going to be demolished, however, an influential figure from Matsumoto, Ichikawa Ryōzō, along with residents from Matsumoto, started a campaign to save the building.
Their efforts were rewarded. In the late Meiji period the keep started to lean to one side. An old picture shows how the keep looked then, it was because of neglect coupled with a structural defect, but many people believed the tower leaned due to the curse of Tada Kasuke. He had been executed for attempting to appeal unfair tax laws. A local high school principal, Kobayashi Unari, decided to renovate the castle and appealed for funds; the castle underwent "the great Meiji renovation" between 1903-1913. It underwent another renovation "the great Shōwa renovation" during the period 1950-1955. In 1952 the keep, Inui-ko-tenshu, Watari-yagura, Tatsumi-tsuke-yagura, Tsukimi-yagura were designated as national treasures. In 1990, the Kuromon-Ninomon and sodebei were reconstructed; the square drum gate was reconstructed in 2002. Matsumoto Castle was damaged in a 5.4 magnitude earthquake on June 30, 2011. The quake caused ten cracks in the inner wall of the main tower. There is a plan for restoring the soto-bori, reclaimed for a residential zone.
The second floor of the main keep features a gun museum, Teppo Gura, with a collection of guns and other weapons. List of National Treasures of Japan Tourism in Japan Mitchelhill, Jennifer. Castles of the Samurai:Power & Beauty. USA: Kodansha. ISBN 978-1568365121. Schmorleitz, Morton S.. Castles in Japan. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co. ISBN 0-8048-1102-4. Motoo, Hinago. Japanese Castles. Tokyo: Kodansha. Pp. 200 pages. ISBN 0-87011-766-1. Nakagawa, Haruo. Zusetsu Kokuhō Matsumoto-Jō. Issōsha Publishing Media related to Matsumoto Castle at Wikimedia Commons Matsumoto Castle Welcome Guide Matsumoto Castle English Guide Nagano Official Tourism Website - Matsumoto Castle - Interactive 3-D Matsumoto Castle by Professor Jon Amakawa of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Photography of Matsumoto Castle from Heso magazine