When did castles lose their Tenshus?
A Tenshu: that of Kumamoto’s
What’s the deal with all these concrete, museum-like castles? There are 100′s of castles around Japan, so how is it only 12 have managed to retain their wooden, central towers from the Edo period? What happened to them? Did they all go up in flames in World War II?
What do you think were the circumstances that these towers met their end? A castle siege? WWII bombing? Someone was smoking in bed but they nodded off before extinguishing the cigarette only to wake up coughing in a flame-filled room? Each of these causes seem reasonable. Well, except the one that stands out as being completely ludicrous – As if a castle would get bombed, humph.
These questions had been going around in my head for some time. I had a fair idea what happened to many of them from the information I’d picked up here-and-there, but thought it may benefit others than myself to boil it down to some straight-forward graphs and tables.
May I direct your attention to the following infographic?
- Horizontally, we have the years from 1580 to 1950.
- Vertically, we have the number of Tenshus toppled in that decade.
- The three boxes show a year & an event impacting upon Japanese castles.
- Just remember, each bar represents a decade.
A lot of things happened to a lot of castles over the centuries. Just keep in mind that the above graph is only concerned with the main towers. Oh, almost forgot. The sample size is 93!
- 1615 – The Tokugawa Shogunate enacted a law dramatically limiting the number of castles in each province. (There were actually many exceptions.) Only three of the seven Tenshus downed that decade was due to this law.
- 1868 – With the collapse of the Shogunate & the feudal system, the following years saw the vast majority of Japan’s castles decommissioned. Many castles would, in fact be re-purposed and used by imperial forces.
- 1945 – Many castles were damaged by WWII bombing. This fact is quite easy to wrap your head around. Surprisingly, only seven (albeit, rather high-profiled) main towers were burnt to the ground.
The numbers crunched
The 93 charted events above are broken down into their cause in the table below. Any surprises?
The full data
You got it. The whole shebang.
So, there you have it folks, the hows & whens of the disappeared Tenshu. Has that answered any questions, or has it simply brought about new questions in their place? I’d like to think it has done both. Either way, I’d love to read your thoughts/questions below.