The different types of Japanese castles 日本の城

Japan's iconic castles

The Japanese castle, with its multi-story guard towers, its wooden architecture, and its huge open gardens has established itself as one of the iconic places in the country. But did you know that there are different kinds of castles across the land?

The yamajiro

 

Before the 14th century, Japan only knew temporary castles, consisting of wooden fortifications surrounded by moats, whose objective was to serve as defenses against foreign invasions. The Ki nojo castle, dating from the 7th century, located in Soja (Okayama prefecture) represents this type of construction.

 

During the Sengoku period of the Warring States (1477 - 1573), the multiplication of conflicts across the country led to the construction of the first castles intended for internal use. These castles are built high up on hills or mountains. "Yamajiro" means "castle on the mountain".

Château d'Inuyama

Inuyama Castle dominates the Kiso River and protects its bank.

panorama

The hirayamajiro

 

The hirayamajiro, or   "plain and mountain castle" is a castle built in such a way that it combines the advantages of the heights and those of the plain, allowing both military and civil use (place of political power).

Thus, a castle was built on a hill easily overlooking the plain, like the very famous Himeji Castle, built on an artificial hill.

 

Himeji Castle

The Himeji Castle Dungeon appears to have only 5 floors, but includes a hidden one.

Wikipedia

The hirajiro

 

The hirajiro is a "plain castle" corresponding to the castles built during a more peaceful period. At that time, the fortress, seen as a symbol of power, played a role that was much more political and economic than strategic, like Nijo Castle in Kyoto.

Indeed, the topographic location makes it much more difficult to defend. Located in the center of towns, it nevertheless retains large moats and turrets as a means of protection.

 

Château Nijo-jo

Nijo-jo Castle

miss vichan

The mizujiro

 

Alongside these large categories of castles, there is a smaller category, called "mizujiro" or castles in the water.

It includes three castles: those of Nakatsu (Oita prefecture), Takamatsu (Kagawa prefecture), and Imabarai (Ehime prefecture). Castles that face the sea and take advantage of the latter as protection.

 

Imabari Castle

Wikipedia

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