66.Tsuwano Castle Part1

A great castle on a steep mountain

Location and History

Yoshimi Clan builds Castle to prepare for Mongol Invasions

Tsuwano Town is located in an intermount basin of Shimane Prefecture, the Chugoku Region. It has an old town atmosphere, sometimes called a little Kyoto in Sanin Area (northern Chugoku Region). In addition, Tsuwano Castle Ruins which is on the mountain, beside the town makes it more impressive. In fact, the town originally came from its castle town.

The old town atmosphere of Tsuwano
Tsuwano Castle Ruins seen from the town area

The castle was first built in 1295 by the Yoshimi Clan, which was sent by the Kamakura Shogunate to protect the area from the possible Mongol Invasions. The invasions historically ended in 1281, but warriors in Japan still expected the Mongolian army might have attacked Japan again. That’s why the clan built the castle on a steep mountain which was just off the Japan Sea. The clan eventually lived in the castle as a local lord for over 300 years. In 1554 of the Sengoku Period, the castle experienced a 110 day siege against the Sue Clan, but did not fall before the truce. The castle was strong enough though it had been all made of soil using natural terrain. After that, the Yoshimi Clan finally followed the Mori Clan, the leader of the Chugoku Region. However, the Yoshimi Clan had to leave the castle with the Mori Clan’s lost of the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600.

A scene of the Mongol Invasions from “The picture scrolls of the Mongol invasion attempts against Japan” (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

The location of the castle

Success and Declining of Naomori Sakazaki

Ieyasu Tokugawa won the battle and sent Naomori Sakazaki to the castle as the founder of the Tsuwano Domain. Naomori who came from the Ukita clan who was the enemy of Ieyasu decided to support Tokugawa because he had a tiff with his own clan. Thus he changed his family name. He modernized and more fortified the castle by building high stone walls, some turrets and the Main Tower in the main portion on the steep mountain. Some other lords at that time often built or renovated their castles on a plain land for the convenience of their government. The reason for Naomori’s decision was said to prepare for possible battles against the neighbor Mori Clan or there was no space for a new castle in the basin. He also developed the castle town, for example, by building waterways to prevent fire and growing carps in them to reduce mosquitos. He also brought paper mulberry trees to the area, which would later create a new industry known as Sekishu Japanese writing paper.

The portrait of Naomori Sakazaki, private owned (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)
Part of the illustration of Tsuwano Castle in Iwami Province, exhibited by the National Archives of Japan
The remaining stone walls on the mountain

On the other hand, Naomori was an impulsive and monomaniac person. For example, he pursued a relative for 8 years to avenge the death of a person and he didn’t stop until that person got punished. He even sued the Tomita Clan who accommodated that person in the Shogunate Court and was finally fired by the shogunate. However, in the end he brought his own misfortune. In 1615 when the summer campaign of siege of Osaka where the shogunate defeated Hideyori Toyotomi, Naomori joined the Tokugawa shogunate’s side. Hedeyori’s wife, Senhime, who was the shogun’s daughter, was rescued and brought to the shogun by Naomori himself. The next year, a very mysterious incident occurred. Naomori had planned to kidnap Senhime a night before her wedding to one of Tokugawa Shogunate’s senior vassals. The shogunate’s troops surrounded his house but he committed harakiri.

The portrait of Senhime, owned by Gugyoji Temple (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)
The portrait of Hidetada Tokugawa who was Senhime’s father, owned by Saifuku-ji Temple (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

It is quite uncertain why he tried such a foolish action. Some say this was because the founder of the shogunate and Senhime’s grandfather, Ieyasu Tokugawa had promised to marry Senhime with the person who rescued her, but they didn’t do what they have initially promised. Another speculation is that Naomori was asked to find a husband for Senhime because he himself was much older than her. But nothing happened according to his wishes and so eventually he lost everything because of his egoistic tendencies.

The Portrait of Ieyasu Tokugawa, attributed to Tanyu Kano, owned by Osaka Castle Museum (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Kamei Clan follows Tsuwano Domain and Castle

The Tsuwano Domain was followed by the Kamei Clan, which governed the domain until the end of the Edo Period. Like many other domains, they built the Main Hall at the foot of the mountain for living and the government. They also kept the castle on the mountain, but it was actually very tough. In 1685, the Main Tower and some other turrets were burned down by a lightning fire. Unfortunately, the tower was not restored. The stone walls on the mountain sometimes collapsed due to earthquakes or natural cause because of the steep terrain. As a result, most of the stone walls were repaired or re-plied during the period, but some of them were left that way. In addition, the domain established the domain school called Yorokan to educate the retainers. Many pioneers to modernize Japan in the Meiji Rra came from this school such as Ogai Mori (a novelist) and Amane Nishi (a Philosopher).

The illustration of Tsuwano Castle (showing its state of the early Meiji Era), in 1874, from the signboard at the site
The interior of the restored domain school
The photo of Ogai Mori, in 1916 (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)
The photo of Amane Nishi, published in 1931 (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

To be continued in “Tsuwano Castle Part2”

85.福岡城~Fukuoka Castle

Did the castle have a Main Tower or not ?

立地と歴史~Location and History

古代から重要な地~Important place from Ancient times

城の位置と筑前国の範囲~The location of the castle and the range of Chikuzen Province

Fukuoka Castle was originally an area around a mountain called Akasaka-yama and an arm of the sea called Kusagae beside the mountain, in what is now Fukuoka City. In ancient times, there was a guest house called Kouro-kan to used to host people from China and Korea. In the Kamakura Era of the Middle Ages, when the warriors repelled the Mongol Invasion, they battled the enemy there. In 1600, the Kuroda clan was granted the Fukuoka Domain of Chikuzen Province with an earning of 523,000 koku in rice by the Tokugawa Shogunate. They decided to build a new castle in this area called Fukuzaki then.

鴻臚館の遺跡~Thr ruins of Kouro-kan
赤坂の戦い、「蒙古襲来絵詞」より~Battle of Akasaka from “The picture scrolls of the Mongol invasion attempts against Japan”(licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)
福岡藩初代藩主、黒田長政肖像画、福岡市博物館蔵~The Portrait of Nagamasa Kuroda, the first lord of Fukuoka Domain, owned by Fukuoka City Museum(licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

山と入り江を大改造~They reformed Mountain and Arm of Sea

They reshaped the mountain and filled valleys, and set the Main Enclosure or “Honnmaru”, the Second Enclosure or “Ninomaru”, and the Third Enclosure or “Sannomaru” from south to north. They also created the inner water moat surrounding the mountain part by using the Kusagae arm of the sea as the western part, digging other direction parts, and connecting to the Naka River, the east of the castle.

福岡城下絵図~Part of an illustration of Fukuoka Castle(現地説明板より、from a sign board at the site)

As a result, the area became a huge scale fortress called Fukuoka Castle. The front of the castle faced the sea in the north with three large gates called “Shimonohashi-Ote-mon”, “Kaminohashi-Ote-mon”, and “Akasaka-mon”. The back of the castle, where Honmaru was located, had only one back gate called “Oimawashi-bashi” bridge. Honmaru itself had as many as twenty turrets on high and curved stone walls.

福岡城の模型~A miniature model of Fukuoka Castle(福岡城むかし探訪館~Fukuoka Castle Ruins Visitor Center)

天守の謎~Mystery of Main Tower

An interesting question regarding the castle is if it had a Main Tower (“Tenshu”) or not. It had the stone wall base for Tenshu, but there are no evidence of Tenshu such as relics, documents, and drawings. However, some historians say that the castle must have had Tenshu, as a letter in the early Edo Period written by another lord says Kuroda would destroy their Tenshu because they were afraid of what Tokugawa Shogunate might think. It’s very intriguing.

上記の模型の天守部分は無色になっています~The part of the Main Tower is made uncolored in the model


城周辺の航空写真~The aerial photo of around the castle

二つの公園~Two Parks

Now, the ruins of Fukuoka Castle are divided into two parks. One of them is Maiduru Park which was the primary part of the castle. The other one is Ohori Park which was originally Kusagae arm of the sea, then became an inner moat of the castle, called Large Moat or “Ohori”. Ohori Park still has the large moat, but it looks like a large pond. You can see that`s because it was part of the sea a long time ago.

大濠公園~Ohori Park

Maiduru Park is even more spacey, so a lot of ruins are disseminated. Only the Shimonohashi-Ote-mon Gate remains out of the three front gates at Sannomaru, the north part of the castle. It is a two-story turret gate which looks nearly like the original one. It was once modified to a one-story gate in the Meiji Era. After the gate partly burned in 2000, it was restored as it is today.

下ノ橋大手門(遠景)~Shimonohashi-Ote-mon Gate, A distant view
下ノ橋大手門(近景)~Shimonohashi-Ote-mon Gate, A close-range view

三の丸地区~Area of Third Enclosure

If you enter in the park through the ruins of Kaminohashi-Ote-mon Gate, you can see a large vacant area. There were many halls for living and governance at Sannomau in the Edo Period. After that, modern facilities were built there, such as the Heiwadai Stadium. After the stadium was demolished in 1999, the Excavation team found out that there was an ancient guest house called Kouro-kan long before the castle. You can see the findings of the excavation in Kourokan Ruins Exhibition Hall, as well as the history of the castle in Fukuoka Castle Ruins Visitor Center.

上ノ橋大手門跡~The ruins of Kaminohashi-Ote-mon Gate
現在の三の丸~The present Third Enclosure
平和台球場の記念碑~The monument of the Heiwadai Stadium
鴻臚館跡展示館~Kourokan Ruins Exhibition Hall
鴻臚館の遺物~Some of the findings of the excavation in Korokan Ruins Exhibition Hall

二の丸、本丸へ~To Second and Main Enclosures

城周辺の地図~The map around the castle

You can climb from Sannomaru to Ninomaru and Honmaru. Ninomaru is surrounding Honmaru. Regarding to Ninomaru, there is a two-story and over 50m long turret called “Tamon-Yagura” that remains in its original state. It was located at back entrance of the castle, so even now it looks very defensive. It was also designated as an Important Cultural Property in 1971.

三の丸から見た二の丸~The Second Enclosure from the Third Enclosure
現存する多門櫓~The remaining Tamon-Yagura Turret

Honmaru was at the highest point of the castle. The large stone wall base for Tenshu is outstanding. Researchers wonder if the Tenshu was on the base, as I mentioned above. You can observe the whole area of Fukuoka City from there. Kinen Turret is the only remaining building at Honmaru. It was once moved to another, but returned to its original position in 1983.

天守台(外側)~The base for the Main Tower, the outside
天守台(内側)~The base for the Main Tower, the inside
天守台からの眺め~A view from the base for the Main Tower
祈念櫓~Kinen Turret

その後~Later History

The Kuroda clan continued to govern Fukuoka Castle and the castle town, that are now known as Fukuoka city, until the end of the Edo Period. After the Meiji Restoration, most of the buildings in the castle were demolished or replaced with modern facilities like the Army base before World War II, or the Heiwadai Stadium after the war. The ruins of the castle have been turned into Maiduru Park and Ohori Park. Recently, Fukuoka City has announced that it will develop the Central Park, including the two existing parks. The city will also restore some of Fukuoka Castle’s turrets, based on the documents that remain as well as the buildings of Kouro-kan, based on the excavation’s findings. They expect the restoration will take a long time.

1990年頃の城周辺の航空写真~The aerial photo of around the castle around 1990

私の感想~My Impression

I guess that Fukuoka Castle once sported a completed or under construction Main Tower, but Kuroda had to destroy it systematically by themselves considering the Shogunate’s authority. That’s why there is no evidence of the Main Tower.
I also think that recent people have not been interested in the ruins of Fukuoka Castle as a historical park. They think the parks are for leisure, exercise, or officials buildings. However, the ruins still have a great potential for a historic site. I will be waiting for some buildings to be renovated so I can visit them again.

裏御門跡~The ruins of the Back Gate

ここに行くには~How to get There

It takes less than 10 minutes From Akasaka or Ohori-Koen station on Kuko line, Fukuoka City Subway to get there on foot.
If you want to go there by car: It is about 3 km away from the Tenjin-kita or Nishi-koen Ramp on Urban Expressway. Maiduru park offers a parking lot.

リンク、参考情報~Links and References

福岡城むかし探訪館~Fukuoka Castle Ruins Visitor Center(Only Japanese?)
・「よみがえる日本の城20」学研(Japanese Book)
・福岡市「セントラルパーク構想」(Fukuoka City Official Document)