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Uwajima castle

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  • Built: 1604
  • Demolished: 1900 (yagura, gate)
  • Burnt: 1945 (tenshu survives)
  • Founder: Tôdô Takatora
  • Type: Flatland-Mountain
  • Other Names: 板島丸串城 (Itajima Marugushi-jou)
  • Japanese:宇和島城(Uwajima-jou)

Located in Ehime prefecture (Iyo province) in Shikoku, Uwajima castle was the central castle of the Edo period domain of Uwajima.

During the Nara and Heian periods, the area was controlled by the Tachibana family. During the Kamakura period, the Saionji family took control and a fortress on the site was the focus of many battles during the Sengoku period. Tôdô Takatora took control of the area in 1595 and built a new castle on the site, beginning in 1596. Completed in 1604, the castle was originally known as Itajima Marukushi castle.

Tôdô was transferred to Ise province in 1608 and the castle was handed over to Tomita Nobutaka. The fief changed hands once again in 1614 when Date Hidemune was given control. The second Date clan lord of the castle, Date Munetoshi, rebuilt the castle yet again from 1662 to 1671. The outbuildings and perimeter stone walls were redone, and the tenshu was dismantled and then rebuilt in a modified form to replace areas of rotten wood.

The castle escaped the wide-ranging demolition of many castles by the Meiji government, but over the years most of the buildings were taken down. During World War II, the main gatehouse was destroyed when it caught fire during an American bombing raid. This left the tenshu as the only surviving structure of the castle complex.

The castle was a hirayamajiro built on a mountain 80 meters high, and originally also included buildings on the flatland at the base of the mountain. It was located just off an inlet that served as a port in southwest Shikoku, putting it in a good spot for a castle town to grow up around it. The castle (built by Date) retains many of the ornamental gables and decorative touches usually seen in castles built 50 years earlier. It is also interesting that the tenshu is smaller than the base it rests on (which was built by Tôdô). This was likely due to the fact that castles were in decline as military structures during the mid-seventeenth century, and a large tenshu was no longer deemed necessary (instead concentrating on its appearance). The tenshu has three interior and three exterior stories with traditional tile roofing, and has the rather unusual feature of a ‘front porch’ (somewhat like the kurumayose ‘carriage house’ at Nijô castle). In 1950, Uwajima's tenshu was designated an Important Cultural Property by the Japanese government. The castle grounds now function as a park.

References

  • Kodama Kota & Tsuboi Kiyotari, editors Nihon Joukaku Taikei-20 Volumes Tokyo:Shinjimbutsu oraisha, 1981
  • Hinago Motoo Nihon No Bijutsu #54:Shiro Tokyo:Shibundo, 1970
  • Schmorleitz, Morton S Castles In Japan Tokyo:Charles E Tuttle Company Inc, 1974
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