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Monday, May 21, 2012

Do you know anything about the oldest original Japanese castles?

Bitchu Matsuyama Castle

Bitchu Matsuyama Castle was originally built on a nearby mountain in 1240 AD by Akiba Shigenobu. Takahashi Muneyasu constructed a castle on the modern site on Mount Gagyu in 1331, though the design of this castle differed from the one that stands on the site now. This fortification dates to 1683, when Mizunoya Sakyonosuke Katsumune built the castle that is on the site now. It is also a popular place to visit because it is the only yamashiro, or mountain castle, to have an original tenshu.

Hikone Castle

Hikone Castle is the most famous historical site in Hikone, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. This Edo period castle traces its origin to 1603 when Ii Naokatsu, son of the former daimyo Ii Naomasa, ordered its construction. Hikone Castle’s three storied castle keep is relatively small but displays a unique design that combines multiple different architecture styles. This is one reason why the castle has been designated a national treasure.

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle is regarded as the finest surviving example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture, comprising a network of 83 buildings with advanced defensive systems from the feudal period. For over 400 years, Himeji Castle has remained intact, even throughout the extensive bombing of Himeji in World War II, and natural disasters such as the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake. Himeji Castle is the largest and most visited castle in Japan, and it was registered in 1993 as one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country.

Hirosaki Castle

Hirosaki Castle is a castle town that has always played a major role in politics and economics in the region since Hirosaki Castle was built in the 17th century. There are many seasonal attractions in Hirosaki throughout the year. Two spectacular festivals in Hirosaki are the Hirosaki Sakura-matsuri (cherry blossom festival) and the Hirosaki Neputa-matsuri Festival held in summer.

Inuyama Castle

Inuyama Castle’s has never been destroyed since its construction in 1537 and it’s donjon is considered Japan’s oldest. The castle stands on top of a small hill next to the Kiso River and it is one of only four castles which are designated national treasures.

Kochi Castle

Kochi Castle construction was begun in 1601 and was completed in 1611. Much of the original fortress burned down in 1727 but it was reconstructed between 1729 and 1753 in the original style. The castle underwent major restoration from 1948 to 1959. Though no battles were fought at the castle, it is noteworthy because the castle is the original structure, and not a post-war replica. It is also the only castle in Japan to retain both its original tenshu, or keep, and its palace. In fact, it is the only castle to have all the original buildings in the honmaru, or innermost ring of defense, still standing.

Marugame Castle

Marugame Castle, also known as Kameyama Castle and Horai Castle, is a hirayamashiro (castle situated on a hill surrounded by a plain) located in Marugame, Kagawa Prefecture, Japan. The roots of the current castle lie in 1587, when Marugame Castle was the residence of the lord of the Sanuki Province, Ikoma Chikamasa.

Maruoka Castle

Maruoka Castle is located on a high hill above Maruoka Town, Fukui Prefecture, in central Japan. The castle is also known as Kasumiga Joh, Mist Castle, owing to a legend that a fog would descend to protect it in time of battle. Maruoka Castle was completed in 1576, and is the oldest one remaining of all the castles in Japan. In 1948 the structure was destroyed by an earthquake, but by 1955 it was reconstructed using 80% of the original building materials, and remains standing today. It is a nationally designated Important Cultural Property.

Matsue Castle

Matsue Castle is the only one remaining in the Sanin region. This castle is the second largest, the third tallest (30m) and the sixth oldest amongst castles. It was built over a period of 5 years by the daimyo of the Izumo region, Yoshiharu Horio, and was completed in 1622. In 1875, all of the buildings within the castle were destroyed, with the exception of the castle tower itself, which was allowed to remain due to pressure from interest groups. The castle underwent a complete reconstruction between 1950 and 1955.

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle, originally called Fukashi Castle, is unusual among Japanese fortresses in that it is built on flat land beside a swamp, rather than being on a mountain or between rivers. The lack of natural defenses meant that this castle had to be extremely well-constructed in order to protect the people living inside. The keep, which was completed in the late 16th century, maintains its original wooden interiors and external stonework. It is listed as a National Treasure of Japan.

Matsuyama Castle

Matsuyama Castle (Matsuyamajo) is one of Japan’s most beautiful original castles. It is located on Katsuyama (Mount Katsu), a steep hill in the city center, that provides visitors to the castle with a bird’s eye view of Matsuyama and the Seto Inland Sea. Matsuyamajo Castle was constructed between 1602 and 1628. In 1635, the castle was assigned to a branch of the Matsudaira family, relatives of the Tokugawa, and remained in their hands until the end of the feudal era. The current three storied castle tower was constructed in 1820 after the original five storied and one was destroyed by lightening.

Uwajima Castle

Uwajima Castle is a hirayamashiro (Japanese castle on a hill on a plain) in Uwajima, Ehime, Japan. An alternate name for this castle is Tsurushima-jo.This castle was constructed by Todo Takatora, a Daimyo, in 1596 after being given a small fiefdom by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1595. This castle experienced major repairs and expansion by Date Munetoshi in 1671.

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