Old samurai gardens and residences have been carefully preserved in Chiran-cho, Minamikyushu City, Kagoshima Prefecture. This district is nationally designated as a Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings. They are the reminiscence of the samurais’ residential district built about 260 years ago by the lord of Chiran Town, Shimazu Hisamine. As is represented by the words, “What defends the province is not a castle but people,” more than 100 residential districts of this kind were constructed as outer forts to defend the domain’s main castle during this period.
The residences are located along the delightful streets nicknamed Samurai Lanes, which are intentionally narrow and high walled to prevent would-be invaders. The seven gardens are open to the public. One garden is a pond garden with a miniature artificial-hill, and others are dry gardens in Karesansui-style. Those exquisite and elegant gardens fully represent intelligence and decency based on the Satsuma style simple and sturdy philosophy.
Zuinenji Temple in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Jodo sect. The principal object of worship is Amida Nyorai and Senju Kanzeon Bosatsu (Bosatsu with 1,000 arms). It is the 2nd temple of Mikawa Pilgrimage to the 33 Holy Place of Kannon.
Founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1562, the temple is associated with the Tokugawa clan and his ancestry family, the Matsudaira clan. The temple was founded to hold a memorial service for Ieyasu’s grandfather, Matsudaira Kiyoyasu, and his grandaunt and Kiyoyasu’s sister, Hisako, who brought up Ieyasu for a long time after his mother O-Dai-no-kata was dead. Among several temples and shrines that were constructed on the hill over the Tokaido Road, Zuinenji Temple received special protection by the Tokugawa Shogunate as the defense base to guard the castle.
Going through the four-legged main gate and walk along the front approach surrounded with beautiful white clay walls, you will get to the two storied gate with 1-bay and 1-entrance, beyond which you will see old and historic temple buildings.
Okazaki-juku was the 38th of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1868). It was in current Okazaki City in Aichi Prefecture. The town of Okazaki was the castle town of the Okazaki domain enfeoffed with 50,000 koku of rice. Located at the point where the Yahagi River and the Otogawa River confluent, the town was also the waterway transportation center in the area.
The town was arranged into the present form by Tanaka Yoshimasa, who was enfeoffed with Okazaki Castle in 1590. He changed the route of the Tokaido Road, which had run in the outskirt of the town, and let it run through the town. Furthermore, he made so many right-angle bends in the road as to be called “27 Bends” to protect the town from enemy attacks. The construction took as long as ten years. Today there is a stone monument showing how this bending road is running through the town.
In the Edo period, the Okazaki domain was specially treated by the Tokugawa Shogunate as the birthplace of Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the successive domain lords were selected from Fudai daimyo (hereditary vassals of the Shogun).
The ruins of Amagajo Castle are at the top of a 120 m hill in the central part of Takaoka-cho in Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture. The castle was constructed by the Shimazu clan as a fort to defense the border with the territory of the Ito clan, who had sent troops to attack Sadowara Castle in the Shimazu’s territory in 1600, after the Shimazu clan had fought the Battle of Sekigahara on the western side and was defeated by the eastern army led by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The castle was dismantled, however, in 1615 according to the Ikkoku Ichijo (One Castle per Province) order by the Tokugawa Shogunate.
The castle ruins were arranged into Amagajo Park, which is famous as a viewing spot of cherry blossoms. 1.200 Somei Yoshino cherry trees, which were planted 40 years ago, come into bloom all at once in April, after which 5,000 azalea produce wonderful red flowers.
In the park towers the donjon, which is used as a history museum and has become a landmark of the town. From the observatory deck, you can command a panoramic view of the Oyodo River and the Miyazaki Plain, thinking of this short-lived castle.
Kaijo Park is located on the site of Yamagata Castle, in Yamagata. Recently, strong efforts have been made to complete renovation of the castle. On the 100th anniversary of the founding of Yamagata City, the Ote gateway to the castle was renovated and is being exhibited twice a year.
In 1356, Shiba Kaneyori built defensive stockades, which became the foundations of Yamagata Castle. From 1592, Mogami Yoshiaki, his descendant, remodeled it over 13 years and completed the present castle's form. After he started ruling his territory of 570,000 goku (a unit of land that can produce enough rice for one person per year), 12 custodians took over from him.
The remaining stone walls and moats give an indication of the original castle. Within the castle grounds is a structure called Saisei-kan that shows a Western style different to the other buildings.
Now, the park is famous as a place to view cherry blossoms and enjoy hanami parties in spring.
Tsugaru-Fukushima Castle was the biggest castle in the Tohoku region until modern times. It had a 650,000-square-meter outer ward and a 40,000-square-meter inner ward.
Within the site there is evidence of pit dwellings, outer and inner moats, mounds as well as gate and wall pillars that date to ancient or medieval times.
The castle was the base of the Ando family, which controlled the port of Jusan. Excavation in 1992 revealed that the castle was a full-dress castle with solid mounds and large moats. Moreover, despite an accepted theory, no medieval relic was found predating the 11th century. So, it is likely that Fukushima Castle was built in the 11th century and the inner ward was where soldiers were assembled and some rituals were held.
Hekirichi Jinya was a fort located in Nozaki, Hokuto City, Hokkaido. It was designated as a National Historic Site in 1965. This fort was constructed by the Matsumae domain under the order of the Tokugawa Shogunate to reinforce the defenses of Ezo region (present-day Hokkaido). It was a Western-styled four-pointed bastioned fort with 6 cannon ports. There were 22 barracks inside the fort and about 120 soldiers were stationed. In 1868, with the advance of the soldiers who deserted the Tokugawa Shogunate, the defense forces set fire on the fort and abandoned it. At the present time the remains of each building are in good preservation, to which precise description is given. The road leading to this fort is one of the most famous cherry blossom viewing spot of the town, which is known as “Jinya Cherry.” Hekirichi Jinya is a valuable historic site which had witnessed the international situation of the time.
The Matsuyama Castle of Yamagata once stood in Shinyashiki, Sakata, in Yamagata Prefecture, and was built on the flat lands at the western foot of the Dewa Highlands. It was built mainly to be used as a fortress during the second half of the Edo period.
In 1647, Tadatsune, third son of the Sakai family, parceled out about 3607.8 m3 of the mountain, and made a mansion for his family to live in. In 1779, the accomplishments of Tadayoshi the Third as a wakadoshiyori (assistant) were acknowledged and he was granted 901.95m3 of land and permission to build a castle. Tadayoshi started to build the castle in 1781, and completed it 7 years later as Matsuyama Castle.
Later on, during the Boshin war, the Sakai family joined forces with the Bakugun (troops who supported the revival of the abolished shogunate), but in 1867, they were forced to surrender and give up the castle, which consequently fell into disuse.
Currently, the site remains have become known as Matsuyama Historic Park. Parts of the castle remain around the park, such as the otemon gate called the Tamonzakura, which is a prefectural designated cultural asset. The Matsuyama Castle in Yamagata is a relatively modern castle that sheds light on the culture of the Edo period.