Friday, March 7, 2014

Akashi Castle -Castle with a pair of original three story turrets-

Akashi Castle

-Castle with a pair of original three story turrets-



Name: Akashi castle (Akashi-jo)
Alias: Kiharu jo, Kinko jo 
Place: Akashi koen Akashi city, Hyogo
Location: 34.6527335489214, 134.9920111304933
Type: Hill castle
Built: 1610's
Remaining remnants: Two corner turrets, stone walls, clay walls and moats
Title: 100 famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Akashi castle (明石城) is located on the hill at the central area of Akashi city, just in front of Akashi station. Akashi city places at the west of Kobe city, and an important place of communication which can manage Sanindo Road, Awaji island and Seto-Naikai Sea at once. It was the final line to defend Kansai region against westward.

Arrival of Ogasawara clan

In 1617, Tadazane Ogasawara (1596-1667) was newly appointed as a governor of this area. Ogasawara clan was originally a house of governor of Shinano country (Nagano prefecture) resided at Hayashi castle, but around 1550, they were expelled from their native country by Shingen Takeda (1521-1573), a famous warlord of Kai country (Yamanashi prefecture).

After that Ogasawara people wandered, then they acted for the restoration of house under many warlords, including Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), who became the first Shogun of Edo Shogunate later.

After the fall of Takeda clan at 1582, Hidemasa Ogasawara (1569-1615), leader of Ogasawara clan at that time and father of Tadazane, recovered their land under the support of Ieyasu. Once Hidemasa moved to Kanto region along with Ieyasu, but after the battle of Sekigahara in 1600 he returned to Shinano country under Edo shogunate, and finally was appointed as a commander of Matsumoto castle at their native land in 1613. Hidemasa also married with the grand daughter of Ieyasu. 

At the summer battle of Osaka castle against Toyotomi clan in 1615, Hidemasa served as a vanguard of Tokugawa army at Tennoji side. But facing desparate attack by excellent generals of Toyotomi army such as Nobushige Sanada (1567-1615, famous as Yukimura) and Katsunaga Mouri (1577-1615), Hidemasa caused serious damage and died. Mourning this, Edo shogunate treated Ogasawara clan respectfully.

Build of Akashi castle

At the arrival of Tadazane, Edo shogunate ordered him to build a secure castle at this area, as a backup of Himeji Castle. Tadazane chose the small hill named Hitomaruyama, and built a large castle using several years. Although main tower was not built, Akashi castle became a large castle consisted of tri level area with 20 turrets and 27 gates. It is said that Musashi Miyamoto (1584-1645), a famous swordsman and hired by Ogasawara clan as guest, lectured the planning of attached town, but the truth is not clear.

Originally there were four three-story corner turrets in the central area, and two of these four turrets at the front side of the castle, named Hitsujisaru (southwest) turret and Tatsumi turret (southeast), still remains. 

Hitsujisaru turret which is 13.6 meter high and those top roof faces right angle against front side of the castle, was said as transferred from abolished Fushimi castle (Kyoto prefecture), and used as a substitute of main tower. On the other hand, Tatsumi turret which 12.2 meter high and those top roof faces parallel with front side of the castle was a guarding turret of the gate to the secondary area.

Afterward of Akashi castle

In 1632, Ogasawara clan was transferred to Kokura castle with larger territory. As a important place of communication Akashi castle had been managed by relatives or hereditary retainers of Edo shogunate until the end of Edo era.

Subsequent to Meiji revolution all buildings except for above turrets were lost. Now the site of castle became a park and used as a place of recreation for the citizens.


10 minutes walk from JR West Sanyo Shinkansen / Sanyo-Honsen line Akashi Station or Sanyo-Tetsudo line Sanyo-Akashi station. 10 minutes drive from Daini-Shinmei Doro Expressway Tamatsu interchange.

Related Castles

Hayashi Castle -Two castle used for residence and fortress-
Matsumoto Castle -Black main tower surrounded by mountains-
Kokura Catle -Gate to Kyushu island-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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