50.Hikone Castle Part2

There are so many attractions to see in this castle.


Entering Sawayama Route

Today, Hikone Castle site has well been developed for visitors inside the Middle Moat (the second moat from the Inner Moat). There are three routes over the moat same as the past (Sawa-guchi, Kyobashi-guchi and Funamachi-guchi). Out of them, the Sawaguchi Route is the most popular as it is close from Hikone Station and to the front entrance of the castle. If you choose the route, you will first see the remaining the Sawaguchi-Tamon Turret on the left with a distant view of the Main Tower. The entrance to the castle consists of this turret and the other restored turret on the right. After entering, you will also see the remaining Stable which in the only remaining case in castles in Japan.

The aerial photo around the castle

The Sawaguchi-Tamon Turret on the left with a distant view of the Main Tower
The Sawaguchi Entrance
The inside of the Sawaguchi Entrance
The remaining Stable
The inside of the Stable

Lots of Exhibition of Hikone Castle Museum

You can go across the bridge over the Inner Moat to enter the Front Gate Ruins as the front entrance of the castle. Inside the ruins, there is the Hikone Castle Museum which looks like the past Main Hall for the lord at the same place. The museum stores over 90,000 items about the Ii Clan and Hikone Domain and exhibits about 100 items of them.

The bridge over the Inner Moat
The Inner Moat
The ruins of the Front Gate
The Hikone Castle Museum

You can see the items such as the unique Ii Clan’s Red Armor, swords, tee things, Noh masks and the remaining Noh stage. In the back of the museum, you should check out the restored part of the lord’s private quarters and Japanese Garden. They were restored in traditional methods using wooden materials based on the records and excavations.

The Red Armor which was said to be used by Naomasa Ii, exhibited by the Hikone Castle Museum
A tea jar called “Setotetsuyu-Shijiko” or “The Seto iron glaze jar with four handles”, exhibited by the Hikone Castle Museum
The remaining Noh stage, exhibited by the Hikone Castle Museum
the restored chamber of the lord’s private quarters, exhibited by the Hikone Castle Museum
The Japanese Garden, exhibited by the Hikone Castle Museum

Strong Line of Defense around Large Ditch

Let us next climb up the mountain to the center of the castle. After walking the long, wide stone steps, you will see a huge scale deep ditch with a bridge over it. You will need to go to the Taiko-maru Enclosure on the right side of the ditch to the center. However, you will first have to go on the bottom of the ditch, turn left to the other Kanenomaru Enclosure on the left, and go across the bridge to reach the enclosure. If you were an enemy, you would be counterattacked from both sides of the ditch, and the bridge would be fallen. The remaining Tenbin-Yagura or the Balance Turret also stands behind the bridge to protect the enclosure. It is said that this turret was built by moving the Main Gate of Nagahama Castle.

The stone steps to the center of the castle
The Large Ditch in front of the Balance Turret
The area around the Large Ditch drawn in the signboard at the site, with the additional red arrow which indicates the route
Turning left to the Kanenomaru Enclosure
Crossing the bridge to the Balance Turret
Looking down the bottom of the ditch from the bridge
Looking down the bridge from the Balance Turret

Contrasting Exterior and Interior of Main Tower

After passing the Taiko-maru Enclosure, you will reach the remaining Taiko-mon Yagura or the Drum Gate Turret, as the entrance of the Main Enclosure. There is only the Main Tower in the enclosure, but it looks very elegant.

Going to the Main Enclosure
The remaining Drum Gate Turret
A view from the Main Enclosure
The remaining Main Tower in the Main Enclosure

This is because this three-level tower has a lot of decorations such as Chinese styled gables with gold work, hip-and-gables, gable ends, bell-shaped windows and the decorated veranda.

Chinese styled gable
Gable end
Bell-shaped windows and the decorated veranda

You can enter the tower to look around from the first to the top which is the third floor. The interior of the tower is practical in contrast with its exterior. You can find many hidden loopholes for guns which would be used by breaking the outside walls. The holes have been left hidden because no battles occurred. It was also found that the tower was built by moving the four-level Main Tower of Otsu Castle and reducing to three levels.

The iron doors of the Main Tower Entrance
The first floor of the tower
hidden loopholes on the wall
The second floor of the tower
Going to the top floor
The top floor of the tower
You can’t go out to the veranda at the top floor of the tower

To be continued in “Hikone Castle Part3”
Back to “Hikone Castle Part1”

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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