Tips of Enjoying Japanese Castles: Its Location and History

古代山城 (Kodai Yamajiro)-Ancient mountain castles
中世山城 (Chusei Yamajiro)-medieval mountain castles
近世山城 (Kinsei Yamajiro)-early modern mountain castles
平山城 (Hirayamajiro)-a castle built on a hill in a plain
平城 (Hirajiro)-a castle built in a plain
城柵 (Jyosaku)- Ancient Guardian Office

Ancient Fortress Foreign Style was built in Order to Counter the Invading Forces from the Tang and Baekje

鬼ノ城Ancient mountain castles in Japan are built in Asuka to Nara period in the West Japan. The mountain castles have many similarities with Korean Peninsula castles because Baekje nobility that had been exiled from the current Korean Peninsula was the guidance of architecture.Typical one is Onojo. The castles are only barricaded in the war times, and in peacetimes people lived in the foothills. Ancient mountain castles which are mentioned in “Chronicles” or “Shoku Nihongi” are categorized as 古代山城 (Kodai Yamajiro), and ones not showed up in the records are classified as “Kōgoishi formula Fortress”.
(Photo Kino castle)

城柵 (Jyosaku)- Ancient Guardian Office is a Castle for the Conquest of the Indigenous Ezo of Japan

胆沢城正殿
Through the Heian era from the Nara period, ancient mountain fortress was built in the West Japan. On the other hand, in North part of Japan was still a land of the natives (Emishi). Japanese central government were attacking the natives and created Jyosaku, guardian Offices, there. Jyosaku castles did not have storing defense power like mountain castles in the west japan. Typical Shirosaku is Tagajo Sendai.
(Photo Isawa-jo)

Medieval Fortress was built from the late Heian period until the end of the Warring States

竹田城While the ancient fortress was for fighting against Taito-Baekje, from the late Heian period, domestic situation became unstable. In Northern and Southern Dynasties era, Southern side Godaigo forces started to built mountain castles to counter Northern side Kamakura dynasty in the West Japan. Kusunoki Masashige (the Southern side) built “Chihaya Castle” and “Akasaka Castle” and following samurais followed him to build similar fortress in various places.

In Warring States, old style mountain castles became inconvenient. Samurais started new style castles. 中世山城 (Chusei Yamajiro)-medieval mountain castles have a residential area within castles. One of the most famous samurais, Takeda Shingen was born in medieval mountain castle “Yogaiyama Castle”.
(Photo Takeda Castle)

Sensational Nobunaga’s Azuchi Castle Made Stone Wall and Roof Tiled Castle Became a Japan’s Typical Castle Design

安土城模型Castle with a donjon was built before Azuchi Castle, but Azuchi castle was said first time a castle with a full-fledged castle tower in Japan. 近世山城 (Kinsei Yamajiro)- an early modern mountain castle is fortress that was built in to the early Edo period from the late Azuchi Momoyama period. Also it appeared 近世山城 (Kinsei Yamajiro) like Azuchi Castle with a graceful tower contrary to a rational medieval fortress. These castles are designed for comfortable living and built on more accessible gentle mountains, but on the other hand it is venerable for intruders compare to 中世山城 (Chusei Yamajiro)-medieval mountain castles.
(Photo Azuchi Castle restoration model)

Towards a Peaceful Time Castle became a Huge City Itself

名古屋城In the end of the Warring States power structure became clear. Especially more powerful lords started to build huge castle enclosing the castle town. Odawara Castle was at first mountain castle, but it was expanded to include the city beneath and castle came down from the mountain and became a 平山城 (Hirayamajiro)-a castle built on a hill in a plain. Azuchi Castle and Nijo Castle was fortification of Nobunaga Oda (current Nijo Castle of castle Tokugawa) and will become a model for subsequent castle architecture.Such as Edo Castle, Osaka Castle, and Nagoya Castle are classified as 平山城 (Hirayamajiro).
(Photo Nagoya Castle)

Summary of Japan’s Castles

河村城In Japan, style of castle transformed from mountain castles to 平山城 (Hirayamajiro)-a castle built on a hill in a plain, or 平城 (Hirajiro)-a castle built in a plain. Castles contain existing tower is only 12 castles in Japan. These are mostly 平山城 (Hirayamajiro)-a castle built on a hill in a plain or 平城 (Hirajiro)-a castle built in a plain. We can not see authentic buildings of mountain fortress these days. Although, if you know the history and structural patterns of castles you can imagine the castle offensive or a mountain of defense from the terrain of the Middle Ages.

オススメの本、雑誌

  • 「城取り」の軍事学―築城者の視点から考える戦国の城

    「城取り」の軍事学―築城者の視点から考える戦国の城

    「城は山城から平城へと発展した」、「城は領内統治のための権威の象徴」、「城は単純で小さな形態から複雑で巨大なものへと進化する」…。こうした通説を、民間学とした発展した「縄張り」分析の手法と、軍事学の視点をもって打破する。そこに現れるのは、戦争という「一回性の状況」を映し出した千差万別の個性ある城たちであった。
  • 図解 戦国の城がいちばんよくわかる本

    図解 戦国の城がいちばんよくわかる本

    大河ドラマ『真田丸』戦国軍事考証の著者が指南する「土の城」初の入門書! 写真、イラスト満載、ビギナーにわかりやすく、城好きにもなるほどの一冊。
    「戦国の城」と聞いて、皆さんはどのような姿を想像しますか? 戦国時代には、日本中のあちこちに、実にたくさんの城が築かれました。でも、それらの城は土でできていて、天守のような立派な建物も、高く積み上げられた石垣もありません。実は、土づくりの城には、敵をふせぐための工夫が、さまざまにこらされていました。それもそのはず。なにせ、いつ敵が攻めてくるともしれない戦国乱世、武将たちが命がけで築き、しがみついていた城なのですから。そうした工夫の跡は、いまも地面のデコボコとして残っています。そして、それをたどってゆくことによって、武将たちのいじましく、ときに切ないまでの懸命さが、400年、500年の歳月をへて、見る者に伝わってくるのです。最近では武将に興味をもって、その足跡をたどる中で、城を訪ねる人も増えてきました。そうした戦国史ファンの皆さんだって、いま自分の訪ねている城が、どういうしくみで敵をふせごうとしているのかわかったほうが、史跡めぐりが楽しくなるにちがいありません。さあ、天守も石垣もない戦国の城の世界に、あなたも足を踏み入れてみませんか?
  • 一冊でわかるイラストでわかる図解戦国史

    一冊でわかるイラストでわかる図解戦国史

    一冊でわかる、イラストでわかる 図解 戦国史
    地図・イラストを駆使し、歴史のポイントを多面的に解説豊富な図版で戦国大名たちの勢力変遷も一目瞭然。
    室町幕府の崩壊
    戦国大名の出現
    織田信長の台頭
    織田勢力の拡大
    豊臣秀吉の時代
    徳川幕府の成立