Hamamatsu Castle   浜松城

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Hamamatsu castle keep

A woodblock print by Hiroshige of Hamamatsu and its castle

The statue of Ieyasu Tokugawa in Hamamatsu castle park

Hamamatsu castle

A Tokugawa Castle

Hamamatsu, a city in Shizuoka Prefecture, is very proud of its old castle, which has housed great historical figures. The most famous man of the region, Ieyasu Tokugawa, built the castle that now sits southeast of the city.

Ieyasu's legacy

Hamamatsu Castle was built in the early sixteenth century during the troubled Sengoku period ("Age of Warring States", roughly a century and a half of war 1467–1600). Entrusted to a servant of the Imagawa clan, who reigned over the area at the time, the castle was called Hikuma Castle.

The region was then the scene of clash between the Imagawa and Oda clans, while the Ieyasu clan, the Matsudaira, was trying to survive amidst these behemoths.

The young Ieyasu Tokugawa was a victim of this rivalry, and became a hostage to the Oda and Imagawa (between 1549 and 1556), spending his early youth in Hamamatsu Castle.

When he grew older he became a vassal of Oda Nobunaga, and managed to take the lands of the Imagawa clan and the castle of Hikuma, which he made his headquarters between 1570 and 1586, before taking up residence in Sunpu castle.

Tokugawa Ieyasu

The current castle

The arrival of Ieyasu Tokugawa heralded the restoration and expansion of the castle as we know it today. It was this installation, prelude to the unification of the country under the hand of Tokugawa, which gave him the nickname of "shussei" (or "success").

Hamamatsu Castle is a hirayama-type castle (or "hilltop castle"), and its base is built according to the nozurazumi (野面積み) technique, piling rough stones on top of one another and using their individual shapes to allow them to hold together and create a strong wall.

The technique, which does not use mortar, is so effective that the wall has not moved in the last 400 years.

The three-storey central keep was rebuilt after the bombings of the Second World War and now contains a museum housing objects belonging to the Tokugawa clan as well as miniatures of the castle in the Edo period (1603-1868). The observatory at the top gives a very nice view of the city.

Hamamatsu Castle is also home to a large inner courtyard, which was transformed into a park after the war. Often frequented by locals, it is pleasant to walk around and, during the hanami season, take the opportunity to admire the sakura.

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