Saturday, September 13, 2014

Himeji Castle (2) -Elegant castle praised as white egret-

Himeji Castle (2)

 -Elegant castle praised as white egret-



Continued from Himeji Castle part 1

After the battle of Yamazaki, Hideyoshi newly built Tennozan Hoji castle (Kyoto prefecture) at the place of Yamazaki, and later constructed Osaka castle (Osaka prefecture) and stayed there. After Hideyoshi once his younger brother Hidenaga Toyotomi (1540-1591) became the commander, but later he moved to Koriyama Castel (Nara prefecture) in 1585, and Iesada Kinoshita (1543-1608), a brother in law of Hideyoshi, managed Himeji castle until 1601.

After the battle of Sekigahara, new ruler Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616) appointed Terumasa Ikeda (1565-1613), formerly the lord of Yoshida castle (Aichi prefecture), as a commander of Himeji castle. 

Clan connected to two rulers

Terumasa was the second son of Tsuneoki Ikeda (1536-1584), the son of nanny of Nobunaga Oda. Due to this relationship Tsuneoki served to Nobunaga from youth, and later promoted to the lord of Settsu country (Osaka prefecture). At the incident of Honnoji in 1582 Tsuneoki supported Hideyoshi, and became one of four participant of Kiyosu conference which decided post Nobunaga structure. 

Tsuneoki continuously supported Hideyoshi at the battle of Shizugatake in 1583 against Katsuie Shibata (1522-1583), and the battle of Komaki Nagakute in 1584 against Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616). But at the battle of Komaki Nagakute, Tsuneoki participated in the detached force to make surprise attack to Mikawa country (eastern part of Aichi prefecture) but was penetrated by Ieyasu, then faced the counter attack of Ieyasu army and died with his eldest son and Nagayoshi Mori (1558-1584), his son in law.

To reward the royalty of Tsuneoki, Hideyoshi politely treated Terumasa. Terumasa was allowed to use the name of Toyotomi, and married with Princess Tokuhime, daughter of Ieyasu who made peace with Hideyoshi, under coordination of Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi also appointed Terumasa as a commander of Yoshida castle, an important castle managing Tokaido way.

After the death of Hideyoshi, Terumasa naturally supported Ieyasu who was his father in law. At the battle of Sekigahara between Ieyasu and Mitsunari Ishida (1560-1600), the highest magistrate of Toyotomi government, Terumasa captured Gifu castle (Gifu prefecture) in only one day along with Masanori Fukushima (1561-1624), and collapsed the strategy of Mitsunari. Due to this achievement and relationship with Ieyasu, Terumasa was appointed as a commander of Himeji castle with large territory. 

Total expansion by Ikeda clan

As Hideyori Toyotomi (1593-1615), son of Hideyoshi, still existed at Osaka castle (Osaka prefecture), Himeji castle was an important point to divide Hideyori and large lords promoted under Hideyoshi such as Masanori Fukushima and prevent their collabolation against Edo shigunate. Under the order of Ieyasu, Terumasa started renovation of Himeji castle into a huge fortress in 1601, and after the seven years construction current Himeji castle completed.

At the center of renovated castle, a five story six floor (additionally one basement) main tower with three attached tower of three story was newly built. These four towers are connected by two story corridor barracks, and consisted an isolated area enables endurance by itself. To prevent the attack of cannon and fire, whole wall are covered by this white plasters, and this is the reason why Himeji castle is called as white egret castle. As main areas are not so wide limited by the size of the hill, long, narrow and winding ways shaped by stone walls are built from each gates to the main tower, to attack incoming enemies from inside. 

By this renovation western half of the hill was newly improved as a castle and called as Nisnihomaru. The saddle point connecting main areas and Nishinomaru became the front side of the castle, and atacck to the enemy enters this saddle point from main area and Nishinomaru area is planned. At this saddle point newly a pond named Bizenbori was built, to obstruct movement of enemy and probably carry of cannons to this area.

Terumasa also expanded Himeji castle at hillside area. Third area surrounds whole direction of the hill were newly built, and totally guarded by stone walls and water moats. Additionally two layer of outer barrier were built outside of the castle, and total length of outer layer reached to five kilometer.

Afterward and current status of Himeji castle

In addition to Harima country, Ikeda clan seized Bizen country after the death of Hideaki Kobayakawa (1582-1602) and prospered. But Terumasa and his son Toshitaka Ikeda died in 1613 and 1616 respectively, and as their successor Mitsumasa Ikeda (1609-1682) was still in young, Toshitaka was transferred to Okayama castle of Bizen country (Okayama prefecture) and lost Himeji castle. 

Replacingly Tadamasa Honda (1575-1631), the eldest son of Tadakatsu Honda (x-x) who was the bravest general of Tokugawa army, was transferred from Kuwana castle (Mie prefecture). His son Tadatoki married with Princess Senhime (1597-1666), the daughter of second Shogun Hidetada Tokugawa (1579-1632) and lost her first husband Hideyori Toyotomi at the battle of Osaka castle. Tadatoki built Kesyoyagura turret at Nishinomaru, using the betrothal money paid from Edo Shogunate.

Throughout Edo era, hereditary retainer of Edo Shogunate such as Honda clan, Sakakibara clan and Sakai clan served the lord of Himeji castle. Subsequent to Meiji revolution, the castle was once sold to the merchant but donated to Japanese army then used as the army base. Later central area of the castle became the park, and the buildings of central area miraculously survived air assault in World War 2 (the main tower was actually hit by bomb but did not explode). Now Himeji castle is most complete castle ruin in Japan, and was nominated as World Heritage in 1993.

Related Castles

Nagahama Castle -Castle prepared future ruler-
Tottori Castle -As secure as guarding general's will-
Bicchu Takamatsu Castle -Leave the fame as a moss of Takamatsu-
Osaka Castle -Symbol of unification of Japan-
Nakatsu Castle -Castle built by Hideyoshi's excellent military staff-
Inuyama Castle -Traditional style original main tower besides river-
Ojio Castle -Another prominent castle at Himeji area-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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