Tips for Japanese castles sight-seeings: let's get to know more about castles!

Tips for Japanese castles sight-seeings: let's get to know more about castles!
"Kumamoto Earthquake" occurred in April 2016 caused unexperienced damages all over Kyushu. I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to all of those who have passed away and my deepest sympathy to all of those who have been affected by the consecutive earthquakes occurred mainly in Kumamoto.

With most of the roofing tiles fell, and stone walls broke, a picture of the Kumamoto castle should have given a really shock all over the world.
The stone wall of Kumamoto castle is called as "Musha gaeshi (a wall designed to prevent foes from penetrating the castle)" because it is high and steep. To create the Musha Gaeshi, they used two different ways, called Sangi zumi and Ano zumi, to lay stones, and created the stone wall. The artisan, who has a special technique to lay stones, was called as Ano shu. It is a wisdom of our ancestors that constructing a castle by combining two different ways of laying stones. Because it was really complicated ways of stacking stones, it is pointed out that the reconstruction of the broken-down stone walls of Kumamoto castle may be delayed.
By the way, how much do you know about the castles in Japan? For this time, I would like to introduce to tips of various castles of all over Japan including Kumamoto castle, tips that you like to tell somebody.

1. Classified by the places of fortification

The castles are classified into"a mountain castle", "a flat-mountain castle", "a castle on a plane", and "a water castle"of 4 kinds by its places of fortification.
The "mountain castle" has the longest history, and literally is fortified on a mountain. As the castle overlooks surroundings, it was mainly used for defense. Both "a flat-mountain castle" and "a castle on a plane" were built on the plane, and the castle town is spreading around the castle. It seems that the one that built on the higher place on the plane was called especially as "a flat-mountain castle". And, "a water castle" is a castle built in a littoral region, and it is built appropriate for water transportation and defense. Depending on the way of classification, "a water castle" may be counted as one of "castles on the plane".

Mountain castles:Bicchu Matsuyama-jo Castle (Okayama Prefecture),Takeda-jo Castle (Hyogo Prefecture),Gifu Castle (Gifu Prefecture),etc.

(picture shows Takeda-jo Castle)

Flat-mountain castles:Osaka-jo Castle (Osaka Prefecture) ,Hirosaki-jo Castle (Aomori Prefecture),Himeji-jo Castle (Hyogo Prefecture),etc.

(picture shows Himeji-jo Castle)

Castles on the plane:Nijo-jo Castle (Kyoto Prefecture),Nagoya-jo Castle (Aichi Prefecture),Ueda-jo Castle (Nagano Prefecture) ,etc.

(picture shows Nagoya-jo Castle)

Water castles:Takamatsu-jo Castle (Kagawa Prefecture), Hirado-jo Castle (Nagasaki Prefecture), Nakatsu-jo Castle (Oita Prefecture)

(picture shows Nakatsu-jo Castle)
Now, here is a quiz. In which type is Kumamoto Castle classified? You may know if you look at the picture of Kumamoto Castle. The answer is at the last part of this page.

2. What are functions of a castle?

It is said that a castle had mainly three functions, such as(1) a defense function, (2) a ruling function, (3) a residence of the lord. Fortifying on the higher ground, creating the moat around the castle, and observing the foes, people in the castle prevented them to penetrate the castle. Also, the castle town, where samurais lived was spreading around the castle. While the lord lived in the castle, a center of the castle town, he governed the town from the castle as a base.
(picture shows a viewscape of a castle town viewing from Gujo Hachiman-jo Castle)
Kumamoto Castle is not an exception. The lord of Higo Province, Kiyomasa Kato, was ruling from the castle as a base, and the castle town was surrounding the castle.
Regrettably, we seem not be able to see the bravery posture of Kumamoto Castle for a while...

After learning more knowledge, when you visit actually to a castle, you will be able to enjoy more. Please by all means go to castles of your interest.

Answer to the quiz:a flat-mountain castle

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