Friday, June 5, 2015

Toyama Castle

During the New Year holidays, hubby and I visited a few sightseeing places but the blog posts about those places are pending for a long time. As I wrote in an earlier post, we had been to our home in Ichinomiya City of Aichi prefecture during those holidays. We went there by our car. We started from Yurihonjo City on 28th December 2014, traveled throughout the day and stayed overnight at a hotel in Toyama City. The next morning we visited Toyama Castle in the city.

Toyama Castle is a reconstructed flatland castle located in the center of Toyama City in Toyama prefecture. It is also called Azumi Castle and during the pre-modern times it was located within the borders of Etchu province. The original castle was built in 1543 by the lord of the region Jinbo Nagamoto of Jinbo clan. The castle is generally associated with Sassa clan and Maeda clan and was in use from 1543 to 1871. Presently the castle, its moat, and the surrounding lands are maintained by the government of Japan as a public park named Toyama Castle Park. The park is a popular relaxation spot for locals as well as visitors, and is a famous spot for cherry blossoms during spring. Toyama Municipal Folk Museum (inside the castle tower) and Sato Memorial Art Museum are located in the park, which makes the park an historical as well as a cultural paradise.

The original Toyama Castle was built in 1543 in Muramochi period by a vassal named Mizukoshi Katsushige under the orders of the lord of Etchu province Jinbo Nagamoto of Jinbo clan. In 1581, Sassa Narimasa, a retainer of Oda Nobunaga, became the lord of this castle. He performed large-scale repairs and improved upon the established defenses of the castle. After the death of Oda Nobunaga in Honnoji Incident of 1585, Sassa Narimasa had a falling out with Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi attacked the castle with 100000 soldiers and destroyed it. The castle was taken back, decommissioned and abandoned. Maeda Toshiie became the governor of the castle in 1597, and Maeda clan ruled over the region for some time. Later his son Maeda Toshinaga renovated the castle and used it as his retirement home until much of it was destroyed by a fire in 1609. In 1640, Maeda Toshitsune, the third lord of neighboring Kaga Domain, was transferred to Etchu province. In 1661, Maeda Toshitsugu, son of Toshitsune, rebuilt the castle again and made it his home. In fact, Toshitsugu founded Toyama Domain and made Toyama Castle his main castle. His descendants ruled over Toyama from here. The castle was home to 13 generations of the Maeda clan until it was dismantled and abandoned in 1871 after the Meiji Restoration. Post-World War II, the castle was reconstructed as a modern concrete structure in 1954. The castle is built on flat land and the remains of the stone wall and the moat of the original castle are still present. The reconstructed main keep donjon does not accurately reflect the original main keep that stood here but is modeled after Inuyama Castle in Aichi Prefecture. The main keep donjon is a concrete structure with 3 levels and 4 floors. The site of the castle has been designated as a national registered tangible cultural property. I really love knowing the history of the places we visit, especially the castles and temples of Japan.

At about 9 am on 29th December 2014, we left the hotel in Toyama City where we had stayed the night before. Toyama Castle is located about 1.5 kilometers south of the hotel, and it took us just 5 minutes of car ride to reach the car parking lot of Toyama Castle Park. Admission to the main keep donjon tower of the castle is closed during the New Year holidays. And since Toyama Municipal Folk Museum is located inside this main tower, unfortunately we could not see the museum artifacts. So we saw the building architecture and appreciated the beauty of the main keep donjon from various positions and angles inside the park.

We entered the castle grounds from the west side of the park and initially saw the castle main keep donjon from the northwest side. The white walls and the dark roofs of the main keep looked gorgeously stunning. Then we walked along a paved pathway located in front of the main keep. To our right side, in a gravel yard in front of the main keep, we saw many stones that made up the foundation of the original castle tower from the Edo period.
Toyama Castle main keep donjon as viewed from the northwest side

Hubby and the main keep as viewed from the northwest side

I am walking along a paved pathway in front of the main keep

A few of the foundation stones of the original castle tower from the Edo period

We continued walking along the pathway and next enjoyed seeing the architecture of the main keep donjon from the northeast side. It seemed that from different angles and positions, the castle tower looked slightly different.
Main keep donjon as viewed from the northeast side

The main keep and I

Hubby walking along the pathway located in front of the main keep

The roofs and the upper floors of the main keep

Sato Memorial Art Museum located in front, that is north, of the main keep

We walked back along the paved pathway and next saw the main keep donjon from the west side. Here I noted that the lower region of the stone wall of the base of the main keep has several huge stones around which normal sized stones are arranged. Such a construction style of rubble masonry is called Warai-zumi.
Main keep donjon as viewed from the west side

I am standing next to a huge stone located in between normal sized stones in the wall of the base of the main keep

We continued walking along the paved pathway leading towards the south side and finally reached outside the castle grounds. We saw and appreciated the architecture of the main keep donjon tower from the south side. We also saw a water-filled moat surrounding the castle tower. We walked along the pathway over this moat and noted that the main keep with its dark roofs, white walls, stone walls of the base, and the surrounding moat made for beautiful picturesque scenery. From this point, we also noted that the contrast between the busyness of the city outside and the serene quality inside the park was simply amazing.
Main keep donjon as viewed from the south side along with the water-filled moat extending towards the east

The moat extending towards the west

Toyama city as viewed from the moat area. The castle is located in the heart of the city.

We loved viewing Toyama Castle and spent about 50 minutes enjoying the architecture of the main keep donjon. Afterwards we left the castle premises and next went to see Shirakawa Village about which I will write in the next post.


The Untourists said...

What a beautiful and well maintained Castle!

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thank you very much for your comment 'The Untourists'. Actually most of the sightseeing places in Japan are very well maintained.