64.松江城~Matsue Castle

Its rough, strong Tenshu keep has become a National Treasure.

松江城天守~The Tenshu keep of Matsue Castle

立地と歴史~Location and History

Matsue City in Shimane Prefecture comes from the castle town of Matsue Castle. The history of the castle started at the beginning of the Edo Period. Tadauji Horio was placed as the lord of Izumo and Oki Provinces (part of what is now Shimae Pref.) in 1600.

堀尾忠氏肖像画部分、妙心寺蔵~Part of the portrait of Tadauji Horio, owned by Myoshinji Temple(licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia Commons)

Tadauji first lived in Gassan-Toda Castle which was one of the most protective mountain castles at that time, but it was not convenient for governance and transportation. Then he decided to move his home base and launched to build a new castle with his father, Yoshiharu. That was Matsue Castle.

月山富田城跡~The ruins of Gassan-Toda Castle

Matuse Castle was located on a hill called Kamedayama alongside Otagawa River, near Shinji Lake. The castle faced the river in the south, cut the mountain and dug a moat in the north making it very defensive. Horio created the castle town below the castle, across the river. They were able to get people and industries under control. The castle including Tenshu keep was completed by 1611.

城周辺の地図~The normal map around the castle

城周辺の起伏地図~The relief map around the castle

The lords of the area called Matsue Domain were changed to Kyogoku, lastly Matsudaira clan by 1638. The governance of Matsudaira lasted for over 200 years. Matsue flourished in culture as well. For example, the seventh lord of the domain, Fumai Matsudaira was a famous master of tea ceremony. He researched noted items for tea ceremony and organized their information. In the late Edo Period, the lords lived in the hall in plain Sannomaru. The Tenshu keep on hilly Honnmaru seemed to be used for a warehouse.

松平不昧肖像画~The portrait of Fumai Matsudaira(licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia Commons)
出雲国松江城絵図部分、江戸時代~Part of the illustration of Matsue Castle in Izumo Province, in the Edo Period(出典:国立公文書館)


The main feature of this castle is the Tenshu. It is one of the 12 remaining Tenshu keeps in Japan. It was also designated as the fifth Tenshu for National Treasure in 2015. This is due to the Tenshu being confirmed built by 1611. It was uncertain if Tenshu was built before then.

天守~The Tenshu keep(taken by よねさん0912 from photoAC)

A wooden talisman dated in January 1611 was found at Matsue Shrine. Its shape matches the installation trace left on the wooden column at the basement of Tenshu. The talisman should be used when the completion ceremony of the castle in 1611.

元の位置に収まった祈祷札のレプリカ~The reprica of the talisman on the original position(「松江観光ステーション」websiteより引用)

The Tenshu was constructed using several types of wooden materials, not using valuable ones like a long thick wood. It could be because Horio were not able to collect good materials due to the boom of castles constructing, or they might use waste materials of Gassan-Toda Castle. These materials are combined to support and break up the weight of Tenshu. In addition, you can see the method to maintain the materials called “Tsutsumi-Ita” which is covering columns with lumbers, iron rings and clamps.

「包板」を用いて補修された柱~The columns that were maintained in the way “Tsutsumi-ita”

That fact proves the method of building Matue Castle was followed by many other castles later. The high evaluation led to Matue Castle being a National Treasure. Anyway, you can purely enjoy seeing the profound appearance, the practical interior, and the base built using unique stone walls called “Gobo-Zumi” of the Tenshu.

「牛蒡積み」の石垣の上に乗った天守~The Tenshu keep on the stone walls built in the way “Gobo-Zumi”(taken by mahiroPhoto from photoAC)

その後~Later Life

After the Meiji Restoration, all the buildings except for Tenshu were demolished and sold. Local volunteers somehow manage to get Tenshu back. It was first designated as a National Historic Site in 1934. After World War II, the area around the castle has been developed as Matsue Shiroyama Park. In addition to the campaign for the National Treasure, Matue City has been restoring buildings of the castle like those in Ninomaru. They are planing to restore Main Entrance Gate at Honmaru in the future. The whole view of Matue Castle will be returning to the city.

復元された二の丸~The restored Ninomaru enclosure
大手門跡~The ruins of Main Entrance Gate

私の感想~My Impression

I like the rough, strong Tenshu keep of Matsue Castle. It has a unique atmosphere in contrast to the beauty of castles like Himegi. It was a pleasure for me to hear that Matsue Castle Tenshu had become a National Treasure. However, it is still not popular compared with Himeji. That means you can usually enter the inside of Tenshu. Matue town also has a laid-back atmosphere. I recommend you to visit them.

天守からの街の眺め~A city view fron the Tenshu
松江城山公園の入り口~The entrance of Matsue Shiroyama Park

ここに行くには~How to get There

If you want to go there by car: It takes about 10 minutes from the Matsue-Nishi IC on San-in Expressway. There are several parking lots around the park.
If you want to go there by bus from JR Matsue station: Take the Lake Line bus and take off at the Ote-Mae bus stop.

リンク、参考情報~Links and Rererences

国宝松江城(Only Japanese)
松江観光ステーション(Only Japanese)
・城の科学、萩原さちこ著、講談社ブルーバックス(Japanese Book)
・よみがえる日本の城6、学研(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!

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