- Built: 1457, Ôta Dôkan
- Burnt:1657 (tenshu)
- Reconstructed: Showa period (yagura, Ôtemmon)
- Location:Musashi province
- Other Names: 千代田城 (Chiyoda-jou), 皇居 (koukyo)
Edo castle was the center of government for the Tokugawa shogunate during the accordingly-named Edo period, and chief residence of the Tokugawa shoguns. Since the Meiji period, the Tokyo Imperial Palace has been located on its grounds. While a number of the Edo period gates, walls, and such have survived, along with a few guardhouses and other structures, very little survives of the Edo period castle. The Honmaru has been left empty, and the Nishi-no-maru is now home to the central structures of the Imperial Palace.
First established by Ôta Dôkan in 1457, the castle was a secondary center of power within the Kantô, under Odawara castle, through much of the Sengoku period. Following the fall of Odawara in 1590, Tokugawa Ieyasu established Edo as his new center. Ieyasu undertook extensive renovations beginning in 1592.
The castle then became the center of shogunal residence & rule, from 1603 onwards. The castle grounds were expanded significantly, including the construction of complexes of moats and gates (mitsuke), such that they came to encompass an area roughly 181 acres in size - twice the expanse of Osaka castle, the next-largest castle compound in the archipelago. The outer moats (gaikaku) are said to have been some ten miles in length, and roughly 160 feet both wide and deep, while the inner moats (naikaku) encircled a perimeter about four miles around, and one mile across. The various halls and palaces in the complex are said to have been able to house as many as 260 daimyô and 50,000 other warriors, if need be, in case the city came under attack. The grand tenshukaku (tower keep), the tallest ever built in Japan at 58 meters high & five stories high from exterior view, was begun in 1607 and completed in 1638, following a series of repairs to the castle as a whole in 1622. Standing some 84 meters above sea level, it was one of the tallest (highest) sights visible in the city - rivaled only by Mt. Fuji. The castle suffered severe damage from fire on a number of occasions, perhaps most grievously in the 1657 Great Meireki Fire, when the tenshu (main keep) was destroyed; the tenshu was never rebuilt.
Another significant set of two fires took place in 1863, destroying the nishi-no-maru, honmaru, and ni-no-maru portions of the compound. The shogunate never replaced the honmaru, which had up until then been the chief structure in the compound, housing the chief audience halls and administrative offices and meeting rooms, as well as the Ôoku. Instead, for the final years of the Bakumatsu period, the shogunate operated out of temporary structures hastily thrown up in the nishi-no-maru.
As Imperial Palace
The Meiji Emperor took up residence in these temporary nishi-no-maru structures beginning on 1869/3/28. By that time, after a brief period of being officially designated Tokyo Castle (Tôkyô-jô), the castle had already been renamed "imperial residence" (kôkyo), the most standard term used to refer to the Palace today as well; however, Fukuoka Takachika, among other prominent members of the Court at that time, argue that as it was not designated kyûjô (宮城), it was not yet the (permanent/primary) Imperial Palace, but was only an anzaisho, a temporary palace secondary to that in Kyoto, until the newly-built Palace was designated kyûjô in 1889.
The government put in place plans as early as 1868 to begin (re)construction in the honmaru. However, before work on that had begun, a fire broke out in the Momijiyama area of the castle grounds in the early morning hours of 1873/5/5 and quickly spread, destroying much of the palace in only about three hours, including offices employed by the Imperial Household Ministry and Grand Council of State (Dajôkan). The Meiji Emperor and Empress, along with the Imperial regalia and the spirits of the Imperial ancestors, all escaped harm and the Imperial family and Imperial Household Ministry relocated later that same day to the mansion of the Kishû Tokugawa clan, which was then dubbed the Akasaka Temporary Palace. The Dajôkan was removed to a different structure, which stood just outside the castle compound. The Imperial family remained at this Akasaka Temporary Palace until 1889, when the castle's reconstruction as the Tokyo Imperial Palace was complete. In the intervening time before reconstruction began, the area in and around the castle grounds became overgrown with vegetation, and overrun with wildlife including foxes and badgers. One former retainer of Satsuma han lamented that it was "unbearable to look at."
Of the eighteen smaller yagura (watch towers) which once stood on the grounds, three survive today: the Sakurada two-story tower (Sakurada nijû yagura), the Fushimi yagura, and the Fujimi yagura. The latter, the only three-story tower on the grounds, served as a replacement for the five-story tenshu keep which was destroyed in 1657. From this tower, one could see (mi) Mt. Fuji; the shogun also enjoyed the view of Edo Bay, and of the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival at Ryôgoku, from this tower.
Gates & Guardhouses
The Shimizumon 清水門, located in the northeastern corner of the Kitanomaru (North Bailey), is one of the castle's several masugata gates. It consists of an outer gate in the kôraimon style, dated to 1658, and designated an Important Cultural Property, and an inner gate in the yagura-mon style, likely dating to 20th century repair efforts. The two are arranged at right angles to one another, forming a small square between them, with high stone walls, a defensive measure commonly seen at Azuchi-Momoyama period / Edo period castles.
The Tayasumon 田安門, located on the northern side of the Kitanomaru, dates back to 1635 and is the oldest structure surviving on the castle grounds. A masugata gate, it consists of an outer kôraimon gate and an inner yagura-mon gate, situated at right angles to one another, and surrounded by tall stone walls. It was designated an Important Cultural Property in 1961.
On the northwest corner is the Inuimon 乾門, literally named for that corner on the wheel of the zodiac directions. This gate is today one of the main entrances for VIPs driving onto the palace grounds, and is heavily guarded.
Of the many guardhouses (bansho) which once stood within the grounds, three survive. The hyakunin bansho, dôshin bansho, and Ôbansho which survive today all stand between the Naka-no-mon and Chûjakumon gates. The Ôbansho was guarded by the higher-ranking guards (yoriki and dôshin), and was the chief guardhouse before the Chûjakumon, which led directly into the honmaru. The guards of the Hyakunin bansho and Dôshin bansho, meanwhile, were charged with the security of the area around the gejôba (the spot where most entering the castle were obliged to dismount), including the walkways from the Ôtemon to the Naka-no-mon.
The Naka-no-mon was rebuilt after the 1657 fire by Hosokawa Tsunatoshi, lord of Kumamoto han, and though damaged in a 1703 earthquake and restored the following year by Ikeda Yoshiyasu, is considered to still date to that 1658 reconstruction.
The Ôtemon 大手門 was the main gate leading into the honmaru (central bailey) of the castle, where the majority of administrative and residential spaces were located. The Honmaru Goten, or Honmaru Palace, was divided into three sections: the omote or omote-muke, containing reception rooms, audience halls, and administrative spaces; the nakaoku, which served as the shogun's residence & housed his own personal administrative spaces; and the ôoku, which housed the womens' quarters.
Low- to middle-ranking samurai were obliged to dismount from their horses or palanquins before passing over the bridge leading to the Ôtemon. Those granted an exception were known as jôyo ijô (乗輿以上, lit. "palanquin riders and up"), and included those over 500 koku in income, and those over fifty years of age. After passing through the Ôtemon, one would cross another bridge, then pass through another series of gates - the Ôtesan-no-mon, Chûnomon, and Chûjakumon - before coming to the entrance hall (genkan) of the honmaru palace. The highest-ranking visitors to the castle, including members of the Gosanke and the abbot of Nikkô's Rinnô-ji, were permitted to remain in their palanquins up until the Chûnomon, where they too had to dismount. Beyond each of these two dismounting points, visitors were restricted in the size of entourage they could bring along with them. For example, a kunimochi daimyô such as the Shimazu clan lord of Satsuma han could only bring with him six samurai retainers, one sandal-bearer, two hasamibako (luggage) carriers, and four palanquin carriers (plus one umbrella bearer in case of rain) past the Ôtemon, and then had to leave three of those samurai retainers, half the luggage carriers (along with the luggage itself), and all of the palanquin carriers (along with the palanquin) at the second dismounting point. Finally, upon reaching the entrance hall (genkan), even such a high-ranking daimyô as this would be forced to enter the castle alone. This was perhaps in part a security measure, but was also a great show of the shogun's power (to be able to require that of even such a powerful lord), and of the daimyô's acknowledgement of that power & authority, and willing submission to it. Lower-ranking daimyô, as well as other official visitors to the castle, were restricted to even smaller entourages during this brief journey between the Ôtemon and the castle genkan.
Meanwhile, the remainder of a daimyô's entourage, those left behind outside the Ôtemon, were rather free in their activities as they waited for their lord to return. Many sprawled out and napped, while others gambled or the like. Though there were rules against smoking, on account of concerns about fire, this was not much enforced, and so smoking was quite common.
Upon entering the genkan, one would turn left to enter the ôhiroma (大広間, great audience hall). Consisting of a number of connected rooms roughly 500 tatami mats in area, in total, the ôhiroma was among the spaces closest to the entrance to the castle, and thus furthest from the center of the complex. It was used for audiences with foreign emissaries or powerful tozama daimyô, and for other highly formal ceremonies.
Two "studies" (shoin), also used as audience halls, were located in the western part of the honmaru. Known as the shiroshoin ("white study") and kuroshoin ("black study"), they lay on either side of an open garden (nakaniwa). The shiroshoin, to the north of the ôhiroma, was somewhat closer to the genkan than the kuroshoin, and was used for more public/official meetings, while the kuroshoin, located to the north of the shiroshoin, deeper into the interior of the complex, was used for meetings on more everyday matters. The shiroshoin, constructed in white wood, was divided into several rooms including the Teikan-no-ma, covering in total around 300 tatami in area. The kuroshoin, constructed in black lacquered wood, was similarly divided into several rooms, and covered a somewhat smaller 190 or so. The shiroshoin was connected to the Ôhiroma by the Matsu-no-ôrôka ("Great Hallway of Pines"), the second-longest such hallway in the complex. This was the site of the famous 1701 attack by Asano Naganori against Kira Yoshinaka which precipitated the later attack on Kira's mansion by the 47 Ronin (former retainers of Asano's, seeking revenge for Asano's execution).
The ôhiroma contained three platforms of different heights, called dan, allowing the shogun to sit not only at a distance from his formal visitors, but also physically above them. These were arranged from north to south, with the shogun sitting in the north, facing south, much as the Chinese emperor did at imperial palaces in China. Only the highest-ranking retainers and guests were permitted to sit within the ôhiroma, and then only in certain dan, in accordance with their rank. Wrapping around an inner garden, and thus forming a U-shape with the three dan, were three antechambers, known respectively as the ni-, san-, and yon-no-ma. The shiroshoin was arranged similarly, though on a smaller scale, with two dan, two audience rooms, and two antechambers. The far north wall of the Ôhiroma was adorned with a large painting of a pine tree, which would have appeared to canopy the shogun as he sat there in the upper dan; the pine, being long-lived and evergreen, was meant to represent the eternal power of the shogunate. To the shogun's left (northeast corner of the hall) was a small set of doors, where he and others would enter and exit the room, as well as a small tokonoma filled with chigaidana for displaying various objects of seasonal or occasional significance. These doors were inconspicuously painted with birds sleeping on branches of nanten (nandina) flowers; nanten puns on 「難転」 (nanten, "turning away danger"), while the sleeping birds represent peace, such as the shogunate enforced throughout the realm. This upper dan, along with the rest of the hall, was adorned with a continuing composition of pines, bamboo, and plums, and cranes and tortoises, all symbols of the strength and longevity of Tokugawa rule. The ceilings featured images of phoenixes, various flowers, and a spiral design known as karakusa moyô (lit. "Chinese grasses design"). The entryways surrounding the hall also featured motifs of peonies, kirin, monkeys in snow, lions, and tigers by waterfalls. The ni-no-ma ("second room"), attached perpendicular to the main sections of the Great Audience Hall, featured a particularly large and impressive painting of a pine tree. Its trunk was located on the north wall, and its branches extended around to the sliding doors on both the east and west sides. Cranes and harvested fields appeared on the walls of the san-no-ma ("third room"), and the yon-no-ma ("fourth room") featured a wintry snow scene. Later attached rooms (ato-no-ma) featured spring and summer scenes. This entire program of paintings is believed to have been designed originally by Kanô Tan'yû, and was reproduced faithfully each time the palace burned down and was rebuilt.
Daimyô and others were divided, by rank, into association with particular waiting rooms, where they would be escorted upon entering the honmaru palace, and where they would wait until they were called upon, e.g. in the case of coming up to the castle for a formal audience with the shogun. These room assignments were known as shikôseki 伺候席, or "seats [where one sat] in attendance." Though daimyô were called upon for their audiences in a set order in accordance with rank and status, they were not actually assigned seats within each of these waiting rooms; while waiting, they arranged themselves freely. The shogun's ability to keep even powerful daimyô waiting, whether in these waiting rooms, or in the audience hall itself, further impressed upon the daimyô their submission to his power.
- Ôrôka: Members of the gosanke and gosankyô, along with a few of the highest-ranking daimyô (such as the Maeda clan of Kaga han, Shimazu clan of Satsuma han, and Matsudaira clan of Fukui han) were associated with the Ôrôka, or "great corridor."
- Tamari-no-ma: Collateral houses of the Tokugawa, typically known as shinpan or kamon, including the various Matsudaira clan branch families of Aizu han, Kuwana han, and Takamatsu han, sat with the Ii clan of Hikone han and up to six other fudai daimyô and rôjû in the tamari no ma, adjacent to the ceremonial chambers, and closest of all the daimyô waiting rooms to the shogunal residence.
- Ôhiroma: Around thirty lords were associated with the audience hall itself. These included shinpan/kamon collateral families not included in the higher ranks, as well as tozama daimyô above 110,000 koku.
- Teikan no ma: Roughly sixty fudai and jun-fudai (semi- or quasi-fudai) clans were associated with the Teikan-no-ma, a room located within the shiroshoin and decorated with images of the "Mirror of the Emperors" (teikan). These included the Ôkubo of Odawara han, Toda of Ôgaki, and the Yanagisawa of Yamatokoriyama han.
- Yanagi no ma: Branch houses of the clans associated with the Ôhiroma, along with tozama daimyô up to 100,000 koku in rank were associated with the Yanagi-no-ma, a room decorated with paintings of willows (yanagi). This was the largest group of daimyô, numbering nearly eighty families, half of whom would have been present in Edo at any given time.
- Kari no ma: Fudai daimyô of castle-holding (shiro-mochi or shiro-nushi) rank and above were seated in the kari-no-ma, a room located between the shiro and kuroshoin, and decorated with paintings of geese (kari). The daimyô assigned to this waiting room were also known as the tsumeshû, and as the oyakuke ("office houses"), the latter referring to the fact that the rôjû and certain other top-ranking offices were selected from among these relatively low-ranking daimyô houses.
- Kiku no ma: Fudai daimyô not of castle-holding rank were seated in the "chrysanthemum room," or kiku-no-ma, a room located between the kari-no-ma and the shiroshoin. These included the Ôoka of Nishi-Ôhira, the Ôseki of Kurobane han, the Yamaguchi clan of Ushihisa han, and the Tanuma clan of Sagara han.
On special occasions, daimyô and others would be seated in and around the audience hall in accordance with their rankings by waiting room. To give an example, at the accession ceremony for Shogun Tokugawa Ietsugu, held on 1713/4/2, sobayônin Manabe Akifusa sat behind him in the upper dan of the ôhiroma, along with a number of maids, and on the western side of the room, the Konoe family former regent and Kujô family General of the Left. Envoys from the Imperial court, from the Retired Emperor, and from the empress, sat on the western side of the middle dan, and the Tairô & kamon-no-kami (head of cleaning), a member of the Ii clan, sat on the east side of the middle dan. Four rôjû sat on the east side of the lower dan. Members of the gosanke, along with the wakadoshiyori, sat in the veranda or corridor (engawa) on the west side of the middle dan, while daimyô of the tamari-no-ma and kôke (protocol chiefs) sat on the veranda to the west of the lower dan. Kunimochi daimyô sat in the ni-no-ma. Other daimyô sat in the san-no-ma, and other officials in the yon-no-ma. This not only put the relative statuses of each of the daimyô on display for the shogun, but also for one another, such that each retainer not only witnessed the relative positions of those around him, but would have also felt his own position, keenly.
On occasions such as New Year's, members of the gosanke, gosankyô, and other shogunal relatives, along with others of the 4th rank and above, waited in various rooms of the castle and met with the shogun in the shiroshoin one at a time, to offer their New Year's greetings. Following these individual audiences, the shogun would move to the lower dan (gedan) of the ôhiroma, and stand there as fusuma (sliding doors) were opened, allowing those of rank five and below, gathered in the ni-no-ma, to be seen by the shogun; all those assembled then bowed low, performing their greetings to the shogun all at once. Daimyô visited the castle on a number of occasions throughout the year, including New Year's and other festival days, at the times of their arrivals and departures from the city in connection with sankin kôtai duties, and, regularly, twice a month. However, daimyô could not simply visit the castle as they wished, without special permission; even a son of Tokugawa Ieyasu, Tokugawa Yoshinao, was rebuked for traveling to Edo and going up to the castle in 1629, when his grand-nephew, Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu, suddenly fell ill.
The castle was guarded chiefly by the Koshôgumi (Inner Guard) and Shoinban (Bodyguards), who also defended the shogun himself when outside of the castle. Along with the Ôban (Great Guard) who guarded Nijô and Osaka castles, they constituted the three chief shogunate guard units. The commanders of these three units were selected from the highest-ranking hatamoto, but wielded little political power.
Beyond the various audience halls lay the shogun's personal quarters, along with the Ôoku.
The Nishi-no-maru, or "western bailey," now the central area of the Imperial Palace, was previously home to the palatial residence of the shogunal heir. Originally completed in 1710, it mirrored the honmaru palace to a large extent in its layout, albeit on a smaller scale. Though typically the residence of the shogunal heir, it was at times used for lengthy periods as the chief residence of a retired shogun. Envoys from the Ryûkyû Kingdom, Korea, and the Dutch East India Company regularly enjoyed audiences at the Nishi-no-maru in addition to their formal audiences with the shogun in the Ôhiroma (main audience hall) of the Honmaru.
The Ni-no-maru gardens were designed by Kobori Enshû.
- Nihon no Meijo Kojo Jiten
- Anne Walthall, "Hiding the shoguns: Secrecy and the nature of political authority in Tokugawa Japan," in Bernard Scheid and Mark Teeuwen (eds.) The Culture of Secrecy in Japanese Religion, Routledge (2006), 331-356.
- Plaques on-site at East Gardens of the Imperial Palace.
- Plaque on-site at the Tokyo Imperial Palace Shimizumon.
- Christine Guth, Art of Edo Japan, Yale University Press (1996), 92.
- Takashi Fujitani, Splendid Monarchy, University of California Press (1996), 40.
- Daniele Lauro, "Displaying authority: Guns, political legitimacy, and martial pageantry in Tokugawa Japan, 1600 - 1868," MA Thesis, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (2013), 55.
- Fujitani, 168.
- Fujitani, 36-37.
- Fujitani, 40, 66-67.
- Fujitani, 41.
- Plaque on-site at the Tayasu-mon.
- Plaques on-site at guardhouse.
- Yamamoto Hirofumi, Edo jidai - shogun bushi tachi no jitsuzô, Tokyo shoseki (2008), 70.
- "Facts Revealed by Demolition Work," plaque on-site at Naka-no-mon.
- A Buddhist temple associated with the Tokugawa's Nikkô Tôshôgû shrine, its head was typically an Imperial prince.
- Nagai Hiroshi 永井博 (ed.), Sankin kôtai to daimyô gyôretsu 参勤交代と大名行列 (Tokyo: Yôsensha 洋泉社 MOOK, 2012), 47.
- Fukai Masaumi, Edo-jô wo yomu, Harashobô (1997), 18-19.
- Nagai, 46.
- Fukai, 22.
- Arai Hakuseki, Joyce Ackroyd (trans.), Told Round a Brushwood Fire, University of Tokyo Press (1979), 289n38.; Fukai, 32-33.
- The shogun sat in the upper dan, at the northern end of the hall, for special events including the reception of foreign or Imperial envoys, shogunal succession ceremonies, and certain portions of New Year's festivities, but for more regular occasions, the shogun often took a seat in the lower dan, and faced east toward retainers seated in the ni- and san-no-ma. Edojô: Shikai o shiroshimesu tenka no fujô 江戶城 : 四海をしろしめす天下の府城, Tokyo: Gakushû Kenkyûsha (1995), 120.
- Mitani, xxv.
- Timon Screech, Obtaining Images, University of Hawaii Press (2012), 39-40, 45.
- Chino Kaori 千野香織, “Edojō shōhekiga no shitae” 「江戸城障壁画の下絵」, in Shōgun no goten – Edojō shōhekiga no shitae 将軍の御殿－江戸城障壁画の下絵－, Nagoya: Tokugawa Art Museum (1988), 114-115.
- Gallery label, "Daimyô no kakushiki," Edo-Tokyo Museum.; Yamamoto Hirofumi, Edo jidai - shôgun bushi tachi no jitsuzô, Tokyo Shoseki (2008), 67.
- Ogawa Kyôichi 小川恭一, Shogun omemie sahô 将軍お目見え作法, Tokyojin 東京人 (1995/1), 82.
- Walthall, 342.
- Ogawa, Shogun omemie sahô, 79, 82.
- Yamamoto Hirofumi, Edo jidai, 67.
- Fukai, 26-27.
- Walthall, 336.
- Nagai, 126.
- Mitani Hiroshi, David Noble (trans.), Escape from Impasse, International House of Japan (2006), xxx.
- Daniele Lauro, "Displaying authority: Guns, political legitimacy, and martial pageantry in Tokugawa Japan, 1600 - 1868," MA Thesis, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (2013), 57.