Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Yatsushiro Castle



Yatsushiro castle was completed in 1622 after three years of construction. It replaced a nearby castle that had been destroyed by an earthquake. Like most castles in Japan, it was dismantled in the first years of the Meiji Period so could not be used as a base to threaten the new government.


The moat and impressive stonework still remain, though when built the dressed limestone would have been quite bright and gleaming. From the mid 17th century until its decommissioning in the late 19th century the castle was controlled by the Matsui Clan.


Where the castle buildings once stood is now a shrine. The castles of Edo Japan were the symbol of political authority, and when they were destroyed a shrine was often built on the site. Many times they enshrined the last Daimyo, but also common were new Gokoku Shrines, the local branch of the infamous Yasukuni shrine, both types of shrine being very much of the "political" aspect of shinto. The shrine here is also a political one, enshrining Prince Kaneyoshi, a son of the 14th century Emperor Godaigo.


Yatsushiro was the second castle in the Kumamoto Domain, unusual because Tokugawa law stated only one castle was allowed per domain, but Kumamoto, was allowed a second one to strengthen defense against three threats, the powerful Shimazu Clan to the south, Christianity, which was powerful in Kyushu, and foreigners, who traditionally had entered Japan through Kyushu.


Yatsushiro catle is now a park and is free to enter.

1 comment: