Friday, September 23, 2011

Kiyosu Castle

From 12th to 16th August during Obon holidays, hubby and I visited his ancestral home at Ichinomiya city in Aichi prefecture. On 14th August, we visited Kiyosu Castle located in Kiyosu city which is adjacent to Ichinomiya city. Kiyosu Castle is a flatland castle. The castle was built by Shiba Yoshishige of Shiba clan, the military governor of Owari province, in 1405 during Muromachi period. This castle was built as a defensive stronghold meant to protect Orizu Castle located in Inazawa city, the seat of Owari province's government until its destruction by fire in 1476 during a battle evoked by Oda clan. After the loss of Orizu Castle, the government shifted to Kiyosu city and Kiyosu Castle became the main castle, which brought prosperity to the city. In 1555 Oda Nobunaga captured Kiyosu Castle and established his residence there. The castle became the base of his operations to conquer and unify entire Japan during Sengoku period. After the death of Oda Nobunaga at Honnoji Temple in Kyoto, a big meeting was held at Kiyosu Castle to decide his successor, and Nobunaga’s second son Nobukatsu became the lord of the castle in 1582. Nobukatsu started large scale renovations of the castle in 1586, and the castle was transformed into a great structure with three-tiered system of outer, middle, and inner moats. The castle and its surroundings extended 1.6 kilometers east to west and 2.8 kilometers north to south. Afterwards the owner of the castle changed to Toyotomi Hidetsugu and Fukushima Masanori during Toyotomi clan rule in Sengoku period. Also, the castle was an important base for Tokugawa clan during the Battle of Sekigahara. After the battle, the owner of the castle changed to Matsudaira Tadayoshi (fourth son of Tokugawa Ieyasu), and Tokugawa Yoshinao (ninth son of Tokugawa Ieyasu). During Yoshinao’s ownership of the castle, Kiyosu city became very important and the population of the city grew, and there were more than 60000 residents. In 1610, Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered that the capital of Owari province be moved from Kiyosu to Nagoya, and the new capital was completed by 1613. In fact, parts of Nagoya Castle were constructed with the extensive use of building materials taken from Kiyosu Castle. Thus Kiyosu Castle and its surrounding town vanished in what is known as the ‘Moving of Kiyosu’. The original golden shachihoko of Kiyosu Castle are now kept at Sofukuji Temple in Gifu prefecture. The castle ruin has now become a park known as Kiyosu Koen. The current Kiyosu Castle was rebuilt in 1989 and is a four-storied ferroconcrete building. It is a partial reconstruction of the original castle and was built as a centennial celebration for the modern-day city of Kiyosu. The present castle complex has an area of 11000 square meters.

Kiyosu Castle is located about 17 kilometers southeast of hubby’s ancestral home and it took us 30 minutes to reach the castle by car. Hubby borrowed his father’s Audi car and he felt great to drive it. After parking the car at a parking area located to the east of the castle, we walked for about five minutes to reach the castle complex. We entered the complex from the eastern side. We bought tickets worth 700 Yen per person as admission fee to enter the castle keep called Tenshukaku and a museum hall that displayed goods related to an ongoing popular NHK television drama series named ‘Go - Himetachi no Sengoku’ that depicts the life of princesses and feudal rulers of Sengoku period. We, however, visited only the castle. At the entrance near the eastern side of the castle complex, we saw a statue of Nohime who was the wife of Oda Nobunaga. The castle keep Tenshukaku looked wonderful from the eastern side of the complex. A crest of Oda clan was on display outside the castle keep. We took a few photos of the keep and the crest.
Hubby in his father’s car at a parking area near the castle complex

I am standing next to the statue of Nohime

The castle keep Tenshukaku as viewed from the eastern side of the complex. A crest of Oda clan is displayed.

Hubby standing in front of Tenshukaku

I am standing next to the crest of Oda clan

We entered the castle keep premises from the back entrance gate named Karametemon located adjacent to the south of the keep. We walked along the Japanese garden and walked past the main gate named Otemon located on the western side, and reached outside the castle keep premises. This is because we wished to enter the castle premises from the main gate. On leaving the castle keep premises from the west, right in front of us we saw a beautiful red bridge named Otebashi Bridge located over Gojo River. The bridge, the river, and the castle are the symbol of Kiyosu city. We leisurely walked along the bridge and took a few photos. From the bridge the castle looked amazingly beautiful. Afterwards we walked back towards Otemon Gate and saw a castle staff standing at the gate dressed as a samurai.
Tenshukaku as viewed from the southeast of the complex. Steps located on the left side of the photo lead to Karametemon Gate.

Otebashi Bridge

I am standing on Otebashi Bridge. Otemon Gate and Tenshukaku are seen in the background.

Hubby standing on Otebashi Bridge

I am standing with a castle staff dressed as a samurai

We entered back inside the castle keep premises from Otemon Gate and saw a Japanese rock garden in front of Tenshukaku. The arrangement of rocks in unraked sand looked so aesthetically pleasing. Inside the premises, we also saw a Japanese garden with pine trees and a small ornamental carp pond located southwest of Tenshukaku. We took rest near the pond for some time. It was so relaxing.
Japanese rock garden in front of Tenshukaku

The rock garden and Otemon Gate as viewed from inside the castle keep premises

Japanese garden along with a small ornamental carp pond

Hubby standing near the pond

The castle keep Tenshukaku is a three-level, four-storied steel-framed reinforced concrete structure, and covers an area of 773.01 square meters. It is a wonderful structure and is a replica of the original Sengoku period castle. Tenshukaku features a gabled and hipped roof that incorporates roof ornaments like golden shachihoko, a mythical animal intended to ward off fire and evil spirits. The brilliant red balcony balustrade of the fourth story looks stunning.
The castle keep Tenshukaku as viewed from the west

Tenshukaku as viewed from the west-northwest

Topmost story of Tenshukaku along with the red balcony balustrade and golden shachihoko (side view) on the roof

We entered inside Tenshukaku and saw that traditional castle construction techniques are incorporated throughout its design. Polished wooden stairs lead up to each floor. On the first three floors, there are displays of swords, roof tiles, samurai armors, and many other artifacts that give information about the history of Kiyosu city, Kiyosu Castle, and its feudal lords who ruled Owari province during feudal era. The fourth floor is the top floor with a lookout balcony. A model of a golden shachihoko is displayed at this floor. A taiko drum and a small golden statue of Oda Nobunaga performing traditional Atsumori warrior dance are also displayed at the top floor.
Replica of Sengoku period warrior helmet displayed at the second floor of Tenshukaku

Model of a golden shachihoko displayed at the fourth floor

A taiko drum and a small golden statue of Oda Nobunaga displayed at the fourth floor

Next, we went to the balcony of the fourth floor and got a wonderful view of the castle surroundings. Kiyosu city with many high rise buildings looked great from this height. There are railway tracks nearby and we saw several trains pass by.
Hubby enjoying Kiyosu city views from the lookout balcony of the fourth floor of Tenshukaku. A stone shachihoko ornament of the third floor roof is seen here.

I am standing at the lookout balcony

Japanese Garden of the castle keep premises, Otemon Gate, and Otebashi Bridge over Gojo River as viewed from the lookout balcony. A shinkansen train is seen passing by.

Otemon Gate and Otebashi Bridge over Gojo River as viewed from the lookout balcony

We returned back to the first floor of Tenshukaku and saw a display of suits of samurai armor made out of recycled beer cans, which visitors are encouraged to try on. But hubby was in no mood to wear such heavy armor suit as it was a very hot day. I wore a feudal era princess dress and took a few photos for the sake of memory. It was a wonderful experience.
I am wearing a feudal era princess dress and posing

A castle staff helped in arranging the dress so nicely

Another pose wearing the feudal era dress

Next to the castle keep Tenshukaku there is a culture hall museum named Geino Bunkakan, which is designed like a palace and used for events and meetings. In addition, there is another museum hall in the castle complex with displays of goods from a popular NHK television drama series. We skipped visiting both these museum halls. We bought cute dolls of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and his wife Chacha at a souvenir shop located inside the castle complex.
Cute petit dolls of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (left) and his wife Chacha (right)

In spite of the fact that hubby was initially a bit reluctant to visit Kiyosu Castle as it is reconstructed just two decades ago and not old enough, we enjoyed our visit to the castle.


Carole Rae said...

The Oda clan's crest looks like the same design as of the the Lancastrian red rose, but in a different color. Huh. That seemed like a really fun time!

KVSSNrao said...

Came to the blogpost through your post in blogger's group in Orkut. Good to know more about Japan. I visited Tokyo sometime back.

Shall keep visiting your blog. Shall include it in my articles on Japan Tourism on Knol.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks Carole for your comment. Yeah, the design of Oda clan crest looks somewhat similar to Lancastrian red rose. And we had lots of fun though it was a very hot and humid day.