Kumamoto’s Mugishima castle – reburied
Planning for a day trip
In March I’ll have some spare time on my hands so I thought it’d be the perfect opportunity to check out some of the castles I haven’t been to in southern Kumamoto Prefecture. The candidates include Yatsushiro, Uto, Hitoyoshi & Sashiki castles. A little investigating revealed even more, (smaller and older) castles that I wouldn’t mind checking out if time allows.
While searching for information on Yatsushiro castle, I came across news of the recently (not really) rediscovered Mugishima Castle. And the most surprising thing about this castle is that the locals would’ve been quite happy to see the remnants bulldozed. But more on that later.
The castle was built in 1588 by Konishi Yukinaga, a Christian daimyō who eventually lost this castle & his life following defeat in the Battle of Sekigahara. The Katō clan then took over and continued to use the castle until 1619 when it became damaged by a major earthquake.
A law was enacted in 1615 that essentially limited each domain to just one castle. While the number of castles was greatly reduced in the years that followed, the shogunate also made numerous exceptions, Kumamoto domain being one. Special permission had been granted that allowed both Kumamoto & Mugishima castles to be retained after 1615 & permission was once again obtained for Yatsushiro Castle to be built 1619. Hosokawa Tadaoki retired to here the following year.
Mugishima Castle’s rediscovery
During the building of a road & sewer, stonework belonging to Mugishima Castle was unearthed. Naturally, all work had to stop to allow for an investigation into the old castle’s remains. Substantial stonework along with broken roof tiles & collapsed turrets walls were eventually uncovered.
The following is a time line that will illustrate the truly glacial pace at which events occurred.
- 1950 – Decision made to build the road
- 1960 – Construction permit obtained
- 1965 – Parts of the castle were excavated. Declared Important Cultural Property
- 1996 – Further excavations were carried out
The final word
A great deal of tension existed between the parties involved, local residents wanted their road (having waited for so many years) & there were those who wanted the site preserved. A compromise was reached that would see the road & sewer work continue and also the site preserved. The path of the road would continue straight over the top of the ruins & the sewer would be built 7 meters below the ruins and with that, Mugishima Castle’s moment in the sun ended.
Photo via wikipedia