See Japan's castles the easy way
Article posted on Saturday, May, 28th, 2011 at 7:37 am
Related post: Directions and the Chinese Zodiac.
It seems at every castle there was a building dedicated to the role of time announcement. It wasn’t just the predictable (bi-) hourly toll-of-the-bell or bang-of-the-the-drum though. In times of strife the various alerts would be conveyed to everyone within earshot that they ought to be getting on their bikes, so to speak.
|The Toki Turret
|The Tokinokane Turret
|The Toki no Taiko
Article posted on Thursday, December, 30th, 2010 at 9:59 pm
Something arrived the other day, a postcard dating from the early 1900′s! I hope it wasn’t urgent. The postcard features a coloured image of Kumamoto castle‘s Uto Turret & is postmarked 12th February 1919.
I wish I knew more about the process of taking the black-and-white image and turning it into the postcard we see before us. The colouring certainly improves the visual appeal, but it does also aide in the discerning of some of the details of the 400-plus-year-old building – details that might have been obscured without the splashes of colour.
You’ll notice at the top, left of the postcard it says Kumamoto Castle, Higo. I found this kind of interesting seeing as the old provinces were abolished in 1871, Higo (肥後国) becoming Kumamoto Prefecture (熊本県). At the bottom of the card,（熊本百景）熊本城宇土の櫓 - (100 scenes of Kumamoto) The Uto Turret of Kumamoto castle.
The back of the postcard tells its own story, its reason for existing I guess. It was sent from Kumamoto city by a gentleman hoping to make contact with someone in Sydney, Australia. Below, I've typed out the message in full. I've neglected to add any [sic]‘s. Hey, no-one's perfect. Is anyone able to make sense of the Please send me… sentence?
I have learned your esteemed name from U.S.C.E. club. I should like so much to keep up a exchange with you. Please send me view of magnificent Bank in your localty. Trust you like this view.
Article posted on Saturday, December, 11th, 2010 at 8:56 am
The Inui Turret of Ōsaka castle is rare bird. Perhaps obscurely to the average punter, its twin & equal-sized levels and its’ L’ shaped footprint puts it in a category all its own. The turret, written 乾櫓 or 戌亥櫓. (It’s all explained in this post: Directions and the Chinese zodiac) is also one of the castle’s oldest buildings, being completed in the years following Tokugawa Ieyasu’s complete rebuild of the former Toyotomi stronghold.
It is said the turret was built from salvaged materials from the Hideyoshi-built main tower. I guess we'll find out for certain after we obtain a time machine to test the veracity of this rumour.
Article posted on Wednesday, July, 21st, 2010 at 9:51 pm
If so, you’re probably thinking it’s the Tsukimi Turret of Takamatsu castle. And, you’d be right.
And… If it looks very familiar, you’re probably thinking that there is something not quite right with this picture. And again, you would be right.
Rest assured, this is (pretty much) how it has looked throughout its life. From 1676 to the present.
Perhaps you saw something similar not a moment ago.
And… If you were to visit Takamatsu castle, what is pictured to the right is what you’d actually see.
In addition to the horizontal bars there are arrow-slots, a window & a stone-throwing window. Purdy, ain’t she?
Check out the Takamatsu City official website.
Could I interest you in some more examples?
- Those massive sweeping arcs of Kokura castle‘s irimoya gables give the main tower a sophisticated look. Much more so than the lego-esque original.
- Tsu‘s three story turret had six gables added. It was once most blocky.
- The location of Iwakuni‘s main tower was moved so as it could be seen from the photogenic Kintai-kyō bridge below.
Do you know of any other examples? I’d love to hear them.
So, what’s the deal?
It’s simple, the sexy versions are more appealing. We all buy into Japanese castles… refined elegance… traditional… image. But, it seems they are no different that the models on the covers of magazines. Airbrushed, perfected.
The concrete reconstructions, I’m less concerned with. But, when it comes to Important Cultural Properties, such as the Tsukimi turret above: Hands off!
Who’s with me?