42.掛川城(Kakegawa Castle)

掛川城天守と二の丸御殿(The Tenshu and Ninomaru Mail Hall of Kakegawa Castle)

Location and History

掛川市は静岡県の中央に位置しています。日本の主要街道である東海道が古代よりこの地を通っています。掛川城は最初は戦国時代の初期に築かれ、すぐに戦国大名にとって重要な城となりました。それ以来、今川氏、武田氏、徳川氏といった戦国大名が、この城を手に入れ周りの地域を支配するために鎬を削りました。Kakegawa City is located in the middle of Shizuoka prefecture. Tokaido, one of the major routes in Japan passes through this city since the Ancient Ages. The Kakegawa Caste was first built in the Civil War Period, and quickly became an important site for warlords. Since then, warlords such as the Imagawa, Takeda, Tokugawa clans battled each other to get the castle and govern the area around it.

掛川城の位置(The location of Kakegawa Castle)

At the end of the Civil War Period, Kazutoyo Yamanouchi was transferred to this castle by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the ruler of the whole country. Yamanouchi renovated the castle including the build of the keep “Tenshu” and the castle town. At its highest point, the castle was surrounded by water moats of 3450m long in total.

遠州掛川城絵図部分、江戸時代(Part of the illustration of Kakegawa Castle in Enshu Province in Edo Period)|出典:国立公文書館

He stayed at the castle for about 10 years, and was transferred again to Tosa Province, now Kochi prefecture. He also built Kochi castle in now Kochi City and its Tenshu was designed similar to Kakegawa’s design according to an old document called “Oshiro-Chikuki”.

山内一豊肖像画、土佐山内家宝物資料館蔵(The Portrait of Kazutoyo Yamanouchi, ownd by Tosa Yamauchi Family Treasury and Archives)licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

After that, though the lords of Kakegawa castle ware changed many times, they all kept the castle through the Edo Period. However, the Ansei Great Earthquakes happened in 1854, and most of the castle’s buildings collapsed including Tenshu. Warriors of the Kakegawa domain didn’t rebuilt Tenshu instead of building the Ninomaru main hall for their government office.

二の丸御殿全景(A whole view of Ninomaru Main Hall)licensed by shikabane taro via Wikimedia Commons


Now we can see both of the Ninomaru main hall and the Tenshu. Ninomaru main hall is one of the only four remaining lords’ main halls in Japan. (The others are Nijo, Kochi and Kawagoe.) Immediately after the completion of the hall, the Meiji Restoration had come and the governance of warriors ended then. The hall was turned into a school, a city hall, an agricultural cooperative, and even a fire station. It is relatively recent that the hall was regarded as a historical site, and designated as an important cultural property in 1980.

現存する二の丸御殿と復元天守(The remaining Ninomaru Main Hall and restored Tenshu)

Later Life

On the other hand, the castle had no Tenshu for a long time since the Ansei Earthquakes. Instead the statue of Kannon Bodhisattva was placed on the ruin of Tenshu base in 1907 to pray for fallen soldiers of the Russo-Japanese War. The city officials and citizens longed to rebuild the Tenshu, but they couldn’t because of a lack of funds. The situation suddenly changed when a woman moved to the city about 30 years ago. She agreed with the city’s policy of “Lifelong Learning City”, and donated a large sum of money. This made the city officials decide to not only rebuild Tenshu but also restore it in traditional wooden style.

復元された掛川城天守(The restored Kakegawa Castle Tenshu)taken by Oshiro-man from photo AC

There were some problems about it. One of them was that several drawing pictures of the Tenshu remain, but details are unclear. To solve the problem, the designers use the plan of the remaining Kochi castle Tenshu that should be similar to Kakegawa. In addition, the good news were that they were able to design the new Tenshu comparatively freely, because the area around Tenshu was not designated as a historical site. They were able to both build it to code and remake the stone walls to strengthen the general structure. Whereas, the ruin of original stone wall were removed unfortunately.

現存する高知城天守(The remaining Kochi Castle Tenshu)taken by 眠鯨 from photo AC

This was the first case of the restoration for wooden Tenshu since the Meiji Era with the completion in 1994. The campaign was successful to have the great symbol of the city, and attract around 100,000 tourists into the city every year.

天守遠景(A distant view of Tenshu)

My Impression

It is very rare to see both of a Tenshu and a lord’s main hall at one site. Only Kakegawa and Kochi castles can offer them. You can enter both of Kakegawa Castle’s Tenshu and Ninomaru main hall for one ticket. The Tenshu is still new, but you will see the great technique of a large wooden building.

天守近景(A close view of Tenshu)
天守の内部(An inside view of Tenshu)

The Ninomaru mail hall is old and an important heritage, but it has a relaxed atmosphere. There are several tatami rooms facing its garden where you may partly be seated. The hall has a good natural ventilation like many other traditional Japanese buildings. In particular, you can feel cool and comfortable during the summer.

二の丸御殿内部(The inside of Ninomaru Main Hall)
二の丸御殿内部(The inside of Ninomaru Main Hall) posted by (C)晴耕雨読 @黄昏の番犬

How to get There

It takes about 10 minutes on foot from the JR Kakegawa station.
From Tokyo to the station: Take the Tokaido Shinkansen super express direct to Kakegawa st.

Links and References

掛川城(Official Site, Only Japanese?)
埋木帖~城の復元と法令 ②掛川城天守(Only Japanese)
・掛川城物語、本田猪三郎著、静岡新聞社刊(Japanese book)

投稿者: Yuzo

城巡りが好きなYuzoです。日本には数万の城があったといわれています。その内の200名城を手始めにどんどん紹介していきます。 I'm Yuzo, I love visiting castles and ruins. It is said that there were tens of thousands castles in Japan. I will introduce you top 200 castles and ruins of them, and more!