Friday, March 14, 2014

Azuchi Castle (2) -Each style of castles built by three rulers in Sengoku era-

Azuchi Castle (2)

-Each style of castles built by three rulers in Sengoku era-



Style of castles built by three rulers of the era

Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598) and Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), three rulers of the Sengoku era, built their castle in the style consistent with their character. 

First ruler Nobunaga is said as an innovating dictator changed traditional medieval world, but also had delicate sensibilities. At Gifu castle, former residence of Azuchi castle, he built a luxurious palace at the foot of the mountain formerly not seen in castles, and at Azuchi castle he brought a high-rise and huge main tower, totally different from former ones. 

Additionally, although the exterior of castles was open and splendid to show dignity, private area of Nobunaga was isolated. At Gifu castle Nobunaga still stayed main tower at the top of the mountain, and At Azuchi castle Nobunaga made the central area as a totally isolated space, and lived there with only a few favorite guards.

Second ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi was an upstart ruler with no hereditary retainers, thus he had to charm and overpower other large lords to support him. Castles were most suitable method for this purpose, thus castles built by Hideyoshi such as Osaka castle or Fushimi castle had gorgeous and open buildings and rooms, such as tea room with fully gold inner walls. But these castle also showed visible defensive function such as high corner turrets, complex stone walls and secure gates, to show off the military power of Hideyoshi.

Final ruler Ieyasu Tokugawa was in the opposite situation, it means Ieyasu was a native lord of Mikawa country (eastern part of Aichi prefecture), a suburban area compared with Owari country (western part of Aichi prefecture) where Nobunaga and Hideyoshi were born, and had many herediary loyal retainers. Ieyasu brought “Shoya jitate” style into his shogunate, it means a style of simple but socially fixed organization. Ieyasu built castles such as Edo castle, Osaka castle and Nagoya castle, and their buildings commonly had simple exterior without elaborate decorations. Interiors inside buildings were also simple, but also emphasizing difference of position.

Transition after the accident of Honnoji

On May 1582, Nobunaga was assaulted at Honnoji temple in Kyoto by Mitsuhide Akechi (1528-1582), his regional commander. This coup d’etat is called as “Honnoji no Hen” (accident of Honnoji). Nobunaga and his successor Nobutada both died in this accident, and the authority of Oda government was lost.

Next day of the accident, Mitsuhide advanced to Omi country and occupied Azuchi castle. Families of Nobunaga already escaped, thus Mitsuhide entered empty castle, and delivered trasures stored in the castle to retainers. But 11 days after Mitsuhide lost and died in the battle of Yamazaki, and Nobukatsu Oda (1558-1630), third son of Nobunaga, headed to Azuchi castle. Among this confusing situation, buildings of central areas including main tower were burned down. The cause is not clear which of accedental fire, escaping Mitsuhide’s solders or attacking Nobukatsu’s army. 

Remaining buildings were used for a while, but after the meeting at Kiyosu castle in 1584, Sanposhi (Hidenobu Oda, 1580-1605), a agrand son of Nobunaga and next head of Oda clan moved to Gifu castle, and Azuchi castle was abolished. Buildings and town people were moved to Hachimanyama Castle, a castle located on 5 kilometer from Azuchi castle and built by Hidetsugu Toyotomi (1568-1595) in 1585. Toyotomi government and Edo shogunate treated the ruin of castle as a sacred place commemorating Nobunaga, and Azuchi yama hill was kept off from people. After 1980’s, local government performed investigation on the ruin, and reformed stone walls on front side of the hill.

Related Castles

KIyosu Castle -Place of important conference and alliance-
Komakiyama Castle -Unexpected reuse at 15 years later-
Gifu Castle -Unfotrunate ends of holders-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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