See Japan's castles the easy way
Article posted on Tuesday, August, 23rd, 2011 at 10:56 pm
I have been attempting to finish 100 things at the the same time. The result being 100 unfinished things. And just to top things off, I’ve been neglecting this blog. It’s time to keep it simple.
Here is a photo from the end of what was a fantastic day at Ōzu Castle. This castle, and indeed Ehime Prefecture, are must visit places. Do yourself a favour!
A question before I go. What would you like to see here at this blog? I’m open to your ideas.
Article posted on Wednesday, February, 16th, 2011 at 8:27 pm
I recall as a child being asked if I’d collected stamps. My mother had been really into collecting them, and her interest had rubbed off a little onto my sister & me. Anyway, so when I was asked “Do you collect stamps?”, I said yes. The person who’d asked the question then proceeded to jump on my foot and said, “Well, there’s another one!” Ahh… the funny things kids get up to.
You may recall from a previous post that a trip I took to Ehime late last year. It was then that I actually started collecting the stamps of Japan’s 100 famous castles (100名城). What you see below are the stamps of Yuzuki Castle (No, you don’t), Matsuyama Castle, Ōzu Castle and Uwajima Castle.
I actually missed out on Yuzuki twice: morning and night. I guess I’ll just have to go back there again one of these days.
So, um…do you collect stamps?
Article posted on Wednesday, December, 15th, 2010 at 7:48 pm
The samurai were never really big on siege weapons, at least not to the extent of their counterparts in Europe. Attacking & defending a castle in Japan was much more a game of cat-and-mouse. Sometimes the cat was happy to wait, and other times it would be forced to chance the maze-like corridors in an attempt to get a result.
The gate pictured below is the Tsutsui Gate (筒井門) and the small gate to the left is the Tonashi Gate (戸無門). From my own experience, the path is quite clear when entering the castle. You first pass through the Tonashi Gate, then through the Tsutsui Gate. And, just so you know that I’m not misrepresenting things here, the area out of frame is quite small and entry from the foot of the mountain is limited to the Tonashi Gate. Well, to this enclosure at least.
I think we can all agree that the way in doesn’t look all that hidden. So, what’s the catch?
The Kakure Gate
The missing piece to all this is the Kakure Gate (隠門). It may not surprise you to learn the Kakure means hidden. It’s only now that I realise any surprise was doomed from the start having named this post The hidden gate. Live and learn. Anyway, the castle’s designers always intended this tacked-on gate be overlooked, not so much by 99% of today’s tourists but by any attacking force intent on getting their mitts on the lord’s topknot.
The theory behind the twin-gate set-up was that the well-harassed attackers be focussed on the Tsutsui gate, when seemingly, out of nowhere, defenders would be spilling in from the side, out-flanking them.
A final explanation
The Tonashi Gate isn’t shown in the above picture but sits to the very left of the above two gates. The attackers would enter from the left & presumably focus their efforts on the Tsutsui Gate (the larger gate). Defenders would then counter-attack from the Kakure Gate on the right.
A side note
The three gates mentioned are a mixture of old & new. The Tonashi (door-less) Gate & the Kakure (hidden) Gate are designated as Important Cultural Properties and date from the Edo period. The larger Tsutsui (round well) Gate has been since rebuilt. The turret atop the Kakure Gate is also listed as an Important Cultural Property.