Thursday, May 22, 2014

Takasaki Castle -Twin castles at twin cities-

Takasaki Castle

-Twin castles at twin cities-



Name: Takasaki castle (Takasaki-jyo)
Place: Takamatsu-cho Takasaki city, Gunma
Type: Plain castle
Built: 1598
Remaining remnants: Turret, gate, clay wall and water moats

Brief History

Takasaki castle (高崎城) is located at the edge of river terrace of Karasugawa river runs through the central area of Takasaki city. Takasaki city is a diverging point of Nakasendo way from Tokyo to Nagano district and Mikuni Kaido way to Niigata area, and it is also entrance to southwest region of Kozuke province (Gunma prefecture). Thus Takasaki city had been prospered as a important point of communication.

Takasaki castle and Maebashi castle

In the central area of Gunma prefecture, there are two large cities, Takasaki city and Maebashi city. The size and population of these city are alike, and they stand adjoining. Takasaki city is a center of communication and economy, and entrance to southeast Gunma prefecture. On the other hand, Maebashi city is a political city and entrance to northeast area of prefecture. They are good rival city.

Concerning castle, both city has Takasaki castle and Maebashi castle respectively. Same as cities themselves, there are many points of common for both castles. It says, a) both castle located on the cliff facing large river (Karasugawa river for Takasaki castle and Tonegawa river for Maebashi castle), b) they had a similar plan of a concentric circle style, c) they are built mostly by sand and had only little stone wall, d) they had been managed by relative house or hereditary retainer of Edo Shogunate, and e) the central area of castle was lost and used as administrative buildings. 

But there is only one difference point between them. Maebashi castle had been an important castle from the beginning of Sengoku era, but Takasaki castle increased its importance at the end of Sengoku era and substantially newly built only at 1590.

Build and use of the castle

Takasaki castle was built by Naomasa Ii (1561-1602), commander of Minowa castle. Naomasa was a brave general regarded as big four of Tokugawa army who lead red color armored troops, and also had intelligence. Naomasa was a favorite general of Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), the founder of Edo Shogunate, and when Tokugawa clan was transferred to Kanto region by Toyotomi government in 1590, Ieyasu appointed Naomasa as a commander of Minowa castle, an entrance from Shinano province (Nagano prefecture) or Echigo province (Niigata prefecture) to Kanto region.

Minowa castle was located on the hill and good castle for defense, but it was distant from Nakasendo way and Karasugawa river. To grasp the road and economic place directly, Ieyasu ordered Naomasa to move his castle. At the site of current Takasaki castle, originally there was a small castle named Wada castle built by Wada clan, a local lord.

Naomasa used the ruin of Wada castle and started expansion to surrounding areas in 1597. Naomasa also brought many buildings from Minowa castle, and completed the buiding in 1598. In 1600, after the battle of Sekigahara, Naomasa was transferred to Hikone castle, also an strategic position of Kinki region. After Naomasa, Takasaki castle has been managed by relative houses and hereditary retainers throughout Edo era.

Afterward of castle

Subsequent to Meiji revolution, central areas of the castle were broken and used as a training field of Japanese army. After World War 2, this field was transferred to ground for administrative offices, and there is no remnant of former castle in central area. But clay wall and water moats of external area still remain nearly one kilometer long surrounding former central areas, and one gate and turret survived destruction and were moved to the clay wall in front of the castle.


10 minutes walk from JR East Joetsu-Shinkansen line / Shinetsu-Honsen line Takasaki station. 15 minutes drive from Kanetsu-Jidoshado Expressway Takasaki interchange.

Related Castles

Minowa Castle -Brave general continued fighting against Shingen- 
Hikone Castle -Red color armored army of Ii clan-
Maebashi Castle -Castle tossed about by nature and times-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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