Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Hirado Castle


Overlooking the main harbour on Hirado Island, the castle was controlled by the local Matsuura Clan for its whole history.

A small castle was originally built here in 1599, but it was burned down by the Matsuura themselves in 1613 as a show of fealty towards Tokugawa Ieyasu who they had fought against at Sekigahara. Unusually, they were allowed to hold on to their small domain.

Also unusually, they were given permission to build a new castle in 1704 and it was completed in 1718.

It stood until the ending of the Han system in 1871 when most castles in Japan were demolished. All that remained of Hirado Castle was a gate and one yagura (turret). Again, as with many such destroyed castles, a shrine honoring the former Daimyo and his ancestors was built on the site.

In 1962 the 5-storey keep, ramparts, and 4 yagura were reconstructed.

The keep now houses a museum showcasing the history of the Matsuura clan and the castle and has an intriguing 6th century sword. One of the reconstructed yagura is now available as high-priced  lodgings.

The Hirado domain was controlled by the same clan since the 13th century. 

Though he died almost 100 years before the castle was built in 1718, William Adams, the character of John Blackthorne in the Shogun novel and TV series, he probably did visit the earlier castle that was destroyed in 1613. He died in Hirado in 1620.

The previous post in this series on day 68 of my walk around Kyushu was on the historic Catholic Church in Hirado.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing how many castles were reconstructed in the early 1960s. Just in time for the Tokyo Olympic Games...