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Thread: How many castles in Japan ?

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    How many castles in Japan ?

    I'd like to know the number of castles still standing in Japan, and among those how many are original and how many are reconstructions.

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  2. #2
    Regular Member Hanada Tattsu's Avatar
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    Well, I know of two, Osaka Castle, and Nagoya Castle. Osaka Castle stands in Osaka, and Nagoya Castle in Nagoya. I dunno about Osaka, but I do know that Nagoya was destroyed in the air raids of World War II, and reconstructed in 1959. I also know that Nagoya Castle was constructed by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in the 1600's.

    That's all for now, sorry.
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  3. #3
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    I read somewhere there could have been up to 40.000 of them before Meiji, but I don't believe these numbers.

    I've heard of more than 50 castles (+ ruins), but there may be smaller or less famous ones, and I'd like the exact number.

    Here are the castles I know :

    Big 5-tiered castles

    Himeji
    Osaka
    Nagoya
    Shimabara
    Matsumoto
    Fukuyama
    Chiba
    Kumamoto

    Other big castles

    Edo (Tokyo)
    Nijou (Kyoto)
    Okayama
    Hiroshima
    Wakayama
    Matsue
    Kanazawa
    Imabari

    Average size

    Funai
    Gifu
    Gujouhachiman
    Hikone
    Hirado
    Hirosaki
    Iwakuni
    Kishiwada
    Kakegawa
    Kaminoyama
    Kouchi
    Matsuyama
    Marugame
    Nakatsu
    Odawara
    Ogaki
    Okazaki
    Sekiyado
    Shirakawa (=Komine)
    Sunomata
    Sunpu
    Takamatsu

    Minor castles

    Haga
    Hamamatsu
    Kawanoe
    Kitsuki
    Kiyosu
    Komaki
    Inuyama
    Iwamura
    Izushi
    Nagahama
    Oshi
    Shiroishi (=Masuoka)
    Tatsuno
    Uwajima
    Zeze

    Ruins

    Akou
    Bittsuutakamatsu
    Goryokaku
    Hachiouji
    Hara
    Hizennagoya
    Hachimanyama
    Hiji
    Hitoyoshi
    Kushima
    Kasumiga (=Nihonmatsu)
    Morioka
    Oka
    Ozu
    Rikan
    Sakamoto
    Tokushima
    Tsuyama
    Tomioka
    Takeda
    Takatori
    Tsuchiura
    Yamanaka
    Yamatokooriyama

    This sites has pictures for those interested : http://www.shirofan.com/photo_library/index_e.html

    Then I also found a guide to Japanese castles : http://www.jcastle.info/castle/index.html
    Last edited by Maciamo; Aug 19, 2003 at 11:47.

  4. #4
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    Konnichiwa Maciamo-san!

    There was a lot of Castles in Japan in old times, but we can not get hold of the exactly numbers about old Castles. Because most of all them were lost and there is not a historical records about old Castles.
    But don't imagine "Osaka castle" or "Nagoya castle" about old Castles. "Osaka castle" and "Nagoya castle" are the newest castle(it means a mode but not age) and are very big castle. In specialty discipline, "castle" means a building with defense function, and small fort is included in castle too. I have heard too that old castles were more than 40,000 in old days. Of course there were not 40,000 castles as "Osaka castle" or "Nagoya castle". This numbers include small forts and temples.

    The Age of Civil Wars, a lot of people had castle, Daimyo(feudal lord), Bandit, Pirate, Buddhist priest, merchant, farmer and etc. But there is not a historical records about small(farmer's) castle now. And the end of Civil Wars, King Toyotomi and Tokugawa ordered destruction of castles, and a lot of castles were lost in this age.

    I have heard that existing original big castle are 12(but sorry, I don't know this number is correct or not). The representative of existing original big castle is "Himeji castle". Himeji castle is the newest castle and is not involved in any war.

    The representative of rebuilding castle is "Osaka castle". The first Osaka castle is "Ishiyama Honganji". "Ishiyama Honganji" is a Buddhist temple. But "Ishiyama Honganji" was lost by accidental fire. The second Osaka castle is Daimyo Toyotomi's castle. But this castle was destroyed by Daimyo Tokugawa. And the third Osaka castle is Tokugawa's castle, but this castle was destroyed in the Meiji Restoration. The present castle is the fourth, this castle's foundations are Tokugawa's foundations but castle tower was rebuilded from plan of Toyotomi's tower. And now, Osaka castle means Toyotomi's castle usually.

    How many castle exist now? original or reconstructions? Ummm... sorry I don't know too.

    NANGI

  5. #5
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Thanks Nangi, that was interesting. Of course, among 40.000 castles, most must not have been bigger than a normal house. Even the big Osaka castle is much bigger than my house (less land area, but more floors) !

    Other info. It seems that only these castles (among those listed in the Japanese castle guide) are the original (not reconstructions) :

    Hikone Castle
    Himeji Castle
    Hirosaki Castle
    Inuyama Castle
    Kochi Castle
    Matsumoto Castle
    Matsuyama Castle

    The oldest original castle in Japan is Inuyama, built in 1537. The others above were all built around 1600.

  6. #6
    Regular Member senseiman's Avatar
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    I live literally right next to Himeji Castle and have a pretty decent view of it from my apartment. It is a real beauty. It is a shame that so few of the castles have survived in their original form, I guess that goes with building them out of wood instead of stone though.

    Himeji castle actually dates from the 14th century, when there was a much smaller castle on Himeyama, the hill it is built upon. The current castle was constructed in 1609 and re-constructed in the 1960's because the wood was rotting. It was entirely rebuilt using traditional construction methods and you can't tell that it was rebuilt recently just by looking at it.

    One interesting thing is that the castle walls used to encompass the entire city of Himeji. They must have been massive. But during the Meiji era most of the outer fortifications were dismantled in order to make way for various construction projects including Himeji station. A large section of the moat was also filled in to make room for route 2 in the post war era.
    I imagine it is the same with the few other original casltes in Japan, that there actual size and fortifications have been significantly reduced from what they originally were. It is kind of a shame that Japan no longer has any of its walled caslte towns left, as they would probably be really beautiful. Like in Germany there are some towns like Rothenburg that are still enclosed by their medieval fortifications and the are fantastic to see.
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    size of castles

    Nagoya Castle is certainly a big castle especially when judged from the original walls and trenches. However, I was surprised to find Gifu castle among average sized castles in Maciamo's list. When I first saw it I thought that it is really tiny.

    Unfortunately it is also a rebuild. IIRC it was destroyed by an earthquake. What makes it really attractive is it's location on top of 329m Mt. Kinka. The view down is really marvellous.
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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by senseiman
    It is a shame that so few of the castles have survived in their original form, I guess that goes with building them out of wood instead of stone though.
    That is a worldwide problem. Almost nothing remained from the 5th to 10th century castles in Europe because most of them were built in wood as well. I find it quite amazing that some Japanese wooden temples like the Horyuji in Nara have survived more than 1000 years. But castles are destined to wars and thus less likely to survive history than temples...

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Re: size of castles

    Originally posted by halx
    Nagoya Castle is certainly a big castle especially when judged from the original walls and trenches. However, I was surprised to find Gifu castle among average sized castles in Maciamo's list. When I first saw it I thought that it is really tiny.

    Unfortunately it is also a rebuild. IIRC it was destroyed by an earthquake. What makes it really attractive is it's location on top of 329m Mt. Kinka. The view down is really marvellous.
    The location if Gifu castle is very nice, but the building itself is rather small (only 3 floors) and the premises don't spread all around with huge moats and stone walls very far from the dungeon, like Edo, Osaka Castle or the likes. That's why I couldn't consider it as a big castle (I am sure the building itself is smaller than my house and I don't live in a castle )

  10. #10
    Regular Member senseiman's Avatar
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    One castle that has always fascinated me is Akashi castle. It was pulled down during the Meiji period, so all that is left now is the stone ramparts and one re-constructed wood and plaster wall with two turrets. The moat is still intact too, part of the park that surrounds the castle.

    It doesnt sound interesting, but the thing that fascinates me is that almost no one seems to know it exists. I notice that it isn't on Maciamo's list, which is normal because it never shows up on any list of Japanese castles, no matter how extensive. It is almost impossible to find information about it. I must have asked dozens of Akashi natives to tell me something about the castle, but I could never find a single person who knew anything about its history. The Akashi info centre didn't yeild any info either, except that it was built in the early 17th century. The web doesn't have any info about it either.

    So finding out the story of Akashi castle has sort of become my great white whale. Anybody ever heard of it?

  11. #11
    Regular Member CFP's Avatar
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    While in Japan last year, my girlfriend took me to the reconstructed castle in Sendai. Date Masamunes region. It's well worth a visit. Not really big but very beautiful.
    There are plans, so I was told, that there may be a castle reconstructed in Yamagata City in the future.

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    Konnichiwa Senseiman-san!

    Originally, there was a small fort in Akashi. This was a Bessho's fort. Bessho is a Daimyou of Harima region and Bessho's headquarter was a Miki Castle. But Miki Castle was destroyed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

    And new Daimyou arrived in Akashi(1585), he is Takayama Ukon. Takayama built new castle near at Akashi river.

    But Toyotomi Hideyoshi was destroyed by Tokugawa Ieyasu. And new Daimyou arrived in Akashi again(1616), he is Ogasawara Tadazane. And Ogasawara built new castle, this Ogasawara's castle is existing Akashi Castle now. Akashi Castle had four turrets originally but had not a castle tower. Now, there are two turrets.

    NANGI

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    Re: Re: size of castles

    Originally posted by Maciamo
    The location if Gifu castle is very nice, but the building itself is rather small (only 3 floors) and the premises don't spread all around with huge moats and stone walls very far from the dungeon, like Edo, Osaka Castle or the likes. That's why I couldn't consider it as a big castle (I am sure the building itself is smaller than my house and I don't live in a castle )
    That's the reason why I said that I considered it as a rather tiny castle but you listed it as an average sized castle. Now I wonder how small must be the 'minor' castles. Apartment size? (I mean Japanese apartments, of course. SCNR )

  14. #14
    Regular Member senseiman's Avatar
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    Thank you very much, Nangi! That is very interesting, now I know the story of Akashi castle! I am surprised that Akashi castle didn't have a main tower.

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Re: Re: Re: size of castles

    Originally posted by halx
    That's the reason why I said that I considered it as a rather tiny castle but you listed it as an average sized castle. Now I wonder how small must be the 'minor' castles. Apartment size? (I mean Japanese apartments, of course. SCNR )
    No, tiny castle really are smaller than apartments in liveable area. No kidding !

    Here are a few examples from my list :

    Hamamatsu castle :




    Kitsuki castle :



    Haga castle :



    No bigger than a refuge or garden tool shelter !

  16. #16
    Banned arnadstephen's Avatar
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    How many castles in japan

    I was so impressed with the list of castles.

    I copied it and saved this !

    Very impressive

    p.s: maybe i will come to japan and vist some of these
    castles !

    _.

  17. #17
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Just for comparison, the region of Bordeaux in France is said to have more than 2000 chateaux. I imagine than the number for France is above 10.000. In Northern France and Belgium and maybe others very populated European regions, there is in average 2 castles/chateaux per village, including those in ruins, those transformed into farms (but that used to be casles in the middle ages). I am only talking about those having the denomination of "chateaux", not mansions or "villa". There is a village about every 5km in average.

  18. #18
    Regular Member CFP's Avatar
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    Here is a pic of the beautiful castle in Sendai.
    Ignore the aging white haired guy.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Dr SENDA Yoshihiro at National Museum of Japanese History, interested in comparative-archeological approach in East Asia, estimates about 40K site/ruins excluding pre-medieval ones...., literature materials say 20K+ though... 90% or more of on-going excavation sites have been found by way of land development.... site research emphasized about 1970s....study of this field is still under way state....

    http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/doyou/text/d101.html

    nice pictures of Gifu-jo
    http://www.shirofan.com/ind/ind_stoukai.html

    In case have some problems to see nihongo in your display, this site might help....
    http://www.nihongo-ok.com/

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    I would love to see the castles in person...

    I love seeing things from other lands! [I have soul that loves to travel, you can call it wanderlust] ;)
    "An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind." ~ Buddha
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  21. #21
    You SPAM/We BAN !
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    Kumamoto Castle

    I spent about 4 hours going over it before my friends dragged me away. The woodworking is fantastic. They had a section with old armor and guns that was great.The guns covered the early matchlocks up to Civil War era(US Civil War guns). I believe it said like most castles it had been destroyed and then rebuilt.It was one of many places I visited in my 2 years over there and made my top 10 list of things to see!

    Frank

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    oh well I spent 1 hour typing my reply but my computer ate it....
    So let me just say.
    I have visited about 40 castles in japan.
    there are 12 original extant today:
    Hirosaki, Maruoka, Matsumoto, Inuyama, Hikone, Himeji, Mastue, Bichu-matsuyama (Takahashi)---its not ruins, just very old, Marugame, Mastuyama, Uwajima, Kochi.
    Other castles that burned down in WWII: Ogaki, Nagoya, Wakayama, Okayama, Fukuyama, Hiroshima. and in '49 Matsumae (Fukuyama).

    I suggest 2 out of print books on castles in Japan:
    Castles in Japan by Morton Schmorleiz and
    Japanese Castles by Motoo Hinago translated by William Coaldrake

    I have visited other wonderful castles like: Gifu, Kokura, Karastu, Shimabara (HUGE), Hirado, Iwakuni, Imabari, Fukuchiyama, Nagahama, Odawara (lots of history with this one), and some great ruins: Kanazawa and Fukuoka.
    My favorite is Kumamoto; I spent a whole day walking around it and took about 100 photos. I hope to visit many more castles while I am still in japan. Especially Azuchi castle which was only around for 3 years before Nobunaga was killed and the castle mysteriously burned to the ground...it's ruins are just south of Hikone. I hope to visit: Obi, Onomichi, Fushimi-Momoyama, Hikone, Tsu, Kameyama, Igaueno, Komaki, Sunomata, Aizu-Wakamastu, Ono, Kastuyama, Kiyosu, Saga ruins, Nakastu, and other ruins by Sendai this year.
    And I hope to publish all of my wanderings into a guide book on japanese castles....
    For more information on castles if you are in Japan; there are currently 2 magazines -one weekly the other monthly, completely dedicated to castles. They look at one castle each issue and then some minor ones (or ruins) with some photos. Sometimes the ruins are little more than a stone monument or a tree, but others have walls and turrets.
    I know I still have not answered the question of how many castles are in Japan, but I have a map from about the middle 1800's which shows 171 castles at that time; however, many of the castles that are around today were not still standing then...so its a very hard number to come up with especially if you consider ruins into the equation!
    I hope that I have given more information about japanese castles for you even if I failed to answer the original question.

  23. #23
    Regular Member senseiman's Avatar
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    Just today I was over at the Hyogo prefectural museum of history, located next to Himeji Jo. They have some fantastic displays there about castles from all over Japan, and the Japan castle research centre is located in the library next to the museum.

    I know those magazines you are talking about, kotare, I picked up the one about Himeji and have found it quite interesting. There are about a dozen castle ruins in the area and I've been having a great time going around to explore each and every one of them. Himeji castle is always over-run with tourists which tends to diminish the aesthetic appeal of one's visit. But castle ruins, especially those located in hard to reach mountain areas make fantastic places to go hiking on day trips.

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    Haga castle definately looks as it to be my favorite! But they are all so cool, hopefully I will see them when I go.
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