78.Marugame Castle Part1

A castle covered with great stone walls with advanced technology

Location and History

It starts as Branch of Takamatsu Castle

Marugame Castle was located on a mountain called Kame-yama which means tortoise mountain in the western part of the Sanuki Plain of Sanuki Province (what is now Kagawa Prefecture). The part of the plain has several mountains that stood out like a projection, for example, Ino-yama Mountain is known for its beautiful appearance as Sanuki-Fuji. Kame-yama Mountain is one of the mountains and much lower than the Sanuki- Fuji ( 66m vs 422m), but was more convenient for the warriors to build a castle on it.

The location of the castle

The relief map around the castle

The Sanuki- Fuji

It is said that the Nara Clan first built a fortress on Kame-yama Mountan, but a castle named Marugame Castle was built on the mountain by the Ikoma Clan in 1597. The Ikoma Clan governed Sanuki Province under the Toyotomi Clan and the Tokugawa Shogunate later between 1587 and 1640. Marugame Castle was a branch castle of Takamatsu Castle which was the home base of the Ikoma Clan. However, Marugame Castle was once abandoned in 1615 in accordance with the Law of One Castle per Province by the Tokugawa Shogunate. The castle had unfortunately been destroyed as we found the wreckage of the old stone walls when the excavation was done.

The portrait of Chikamasa Ikoma, the founder of the clan, owned by Kokenji Temple (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)
Takamatsu Castle

Rebuilt by Yamazaki Clan and Kyogoku Clan

After the Ikoma Clan was transferred to another due to their internal trouble in 1641, the Yamazaki Clan was given the western part of Sanuki Province by the Tokugawa Shogunate. The Yamazaki Clan was allowed to rebuild Marugame Castle for their new home base. They built the high stone walls with three tiers covering all around Kame-yama Mountain. The stone walls were also built with advanced technology and very valuable because building a new castle was basically not allowed at that time. The re-construction continued for 30 years. The Yamazaki Clan was unfortunately fired by the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1657 during the construction because they had no successor. The Kyogoku Clan following the Yamazaki Clan completed the construction building the Main Tower by 1663.

The Main Tower and high stone walls of Marugame Castle
The portrait of Takakazu Kyogoku, who was transferred to Marugame Castle, owned by Marugame Municipal Archives Museum (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

It looks like Stone Fortress

The final appearance of Marugame Castle was as the following. The Main Enclosure, the Second Enclosure and the Third Enclosure were on the mountain. All the enclosures were surrounded by the stone walls making the very high ones stick together. The Main Enclosure, which was at highest, had the Main Tower and the four Corner Turrets connected with the roofed passages called Tamon or the mud walls. The Second and Third Enclosures were below the Main Enclosure and they also had several turrets. The Inner Moat surrounded the mountain, the Main Gate was just inside the moat in the north, and the Back Gate was in the south. In addition, warriors’ houses were built outside the Inner Moat and were also surrounded by the Outer Moat.

The miniature model of Marugame Castle, exhibited by Marugame Castle Main Tower
The Main Gate and Inner Moat of Marugame Castle
Part of the illustration of Marugame Castle in Sanuki Province, in the Edo Period, exhibited by the National Archives of Japan

The Kyogoku Clan governed Marugame Castle and the Marugame Domain until the end of the Edo Period. In fact, the lord of the castle lived in the Main Hall at the foot of the mountain. That was a common way for the lords of the castles in peaceful time. Anyway, Marugame Castle must have looked like a stone fortress.

The ruins of the Main Hall at the foot of the mountain (taken by あけび from photoAC)

To be continued in “Marugame Castle Part2”

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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