Numata Castle was located in Numata City, Gunma Pref. It is said to have been built by Bankisai Akiyasu, the 12th generation head of the Numata clan. The castle was called Kurauchi Castle in those days. As it stands at the strategic spot on the way to Kanto region, a lot of battles to capture this castle were fought among warring lords such as the Uesugi clan of Echigo region (present-day Niigata Pref.), the Hojo clan of Odawara, and the Takeda clan of Kai province (present-day Yamanashi Pref.). In the Edo period, this area came under control of the Sanada clan. Sanada Yukinobu started its modification work in 1597, and in several years it was modified into an early modern-styled castle with the five-story donjon, Ninomaru (the second castle), Sannomaru (the third castle), and the stone walls, which were rear for Kanto region. At the present time, only a part of stone walls and moats remains, which remind us of the ancient times. In spring, a 400-year-old cherry tree called “Goten-zakura (palace cherry tree)” is in full bloom. It looks as if it were talking of rise and fall of the castle.
Edo Castle located in Chiyoda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo is the residence of the Imperial family of Japan. It was constructed in 1457 by Ota Dokan. Since 1590, when Tokugawa Ieyasu moved to this castle, works of expansion, improvement and maintenance had been performed. All the works were completed in 1636 during the reign of the third Shogun, Iemitsu. The castle had been resided by 16 generations of the Shogun and had functioned as the center of the Tokugawa Shogunate in the Edo period (1603-1868). At the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the castle was bloodlessly surrendered to the Meiji government. In the next year, the capital of Japan was transferred to Tokyo and the castle became the Imperial Castle. In 1948, the west part of the site was renamed to Kokyo (imperial Palace) and the Honmaru (the main castle) and Ninomaru (the second castle) were open to public during the daytime as Higashi-Gyoen (East Garden). The Gaien (outer garden) area and Kitanomaru (the north castle) area are open to public for 24 hours as a public park. This castle is one of the world’s largest castles in a total area of the castle compounds. It has been the symbol of Japan from the Edo period up to the present time.
This mountain castle located in the east side of Mt. Iwabitsu in present-day Higashiagatsuma-cho, Gunma Pref. was built in the early 15th century by Azuma Taro Sukefusa. It was counted as one of the 3 Fine Castles within the territory of the Takeda clan; the others are Iwadono Castle in Kai province (present-day Yamanashi Pref.) and Kuno Castle in Suruga province (present-day Shizuoka Pref.). The castle was enfeoffed later to the Saito clan, who served as a retainer of the Uesugi clan, the ruler of Echigo (present-day Niigata Pref.) district. Iwabitsu Castle was an important military bases in this region for the Uesugi clan. After the castle fell in the battle between the Uesugi clan and the Takeda clan during the Warring States period, Sanada Yukitaka, a retainer of Takeda Shingen, became the castellan. Later, when the Takeda clan became extinct, the Sanada clan managed to protect the family estate by drifting between stronger daimyo such as the Oda, the Hojo, the Tokugawa, and the Uesugi clans, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Eventually, they moved to Ueda Castle and Iwabitsu Castle was dismantled as per the Ikkoku-ichijo (One Castle per Province) Order in 1615. There are a lot of remains including Honmaru (the main castle) and Ninomaru (the second castle), all of which are must-see historic places for Sanada fans.
Ohtawara Castle was built in 1545 by Ohtawara Sukekiyo, known as one of the 7 valiant warriors of the Nasu clan. The castle had been resided only by the Ohtawara clan for as long as 326 years till the domain system was abolished in 1871. The Ohtawara clan was once driven out of this area by the Ozeki clan in 1518, but put down the Ozeki clan to regain its territory in 1541. The clan was given an important position by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, but joined in Tokugawa forces in the Battle of Sekigahara, which resulted in its prominence as a great daimyo with the fief of 14,400 koku of rice. The Ohtawara clan is a rare example of the daimyo that had survived the Warring States period and never lost its power till the Meiji Restoration. Ohtawara Castle was a large-scale castle with Honmaru (the main castle), Ninomaru (the second castle), Sannomaru (the third castle), Kita-kuruwa (the north compound), Nishi-kuruwa (the west compound), and the riding ground. At the present time, only Honmaru, Ninomaru and Kita-kuruwa are in a perfect state of preservation.
The original castle is presumed to have been built by the Imagawa clan, but it was completely destroyed by the attacks of the Takeda clan and Tokugawa Ieyasu. In 1585, the castle was restored by Tokugawa Ieyasu, who retired to this castle after he passed over his official position as Shogun to his son, Hidetada, in 1605. The castle town of Sunpu had flourished as the place where “Ogosho (the Cloistered Shogun)” resided. After Ieyasu’s death, the castle was put under control of the Sunpu domain or Sunpu Jodai (the top ranking retainer of the domain) till it was dismantled by the Meiji Restoration in 1869. Now many municipal government office buildings and schools stand on the site of Sunpu Castle ruins with Sunpu Park in its center. The donjon does not remain but Tasumi-guruwa (the southwestern outer compound) of Ninomaru (the second castle), Higashi-gomon Gatehouse and Zokutamonyagura (a corner watch tower) remain to the present time. Also the moat of Honmaru was restored to its original form.
Tanaka Castle, or popularly called “Kame-jo (Turtle Castle),” was located in Fujieda City, Shizuoka Pref. The castle was originally called Tokunoisshiki Castle, but it was captured by Takeda Shingen in 1570. Shingen ordered his retainer, Baba Mino-no-Kami, to build an extension and renamed it Tanaka Castle. In the battle with Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1582, when the castellan of nearby Ejiri Castle, who had sided with the Takeda clan, defected to the enemy, Tanaka Castle was completely detached and the castellan, Yoda Nobushige, was obliged to take the advice of peace settlement by the Tokugawa forces and surrendered the castle. Later in 1601, the outmost compound was added by the new castellan, Tadatoshi Sakai, and the castle had been resided by the successive domain lords until it was dismantled with the Meiji restoration in 1868. The castle compounds were built in a concentric circle, which is very unique in the nation. At the present time, Nishimashizu Elementary School stands on the site of Honmaru (the main Castle) and Ninomaru (the second castle) and Nishimashizu Junior High School on Sannomaru (the third castle).
Kashima Castle was located in Shiroyama, Kashima City, Ibaraki Pref. It was built by Kashima Masamiki in the Kamakura period (1192-1333). The Kashima clan was appointed as Sodaigyoji-shoku (general director of rituals) in 1368. Since then the family was called by this title and gained prosperity. In 1590, when the Kashima clan was destroyed by the Satake clan’s attack, the castle was abolished.
The castle ruin is located to the west of Kashima Jingu Shrine. The site of Honmaru is arranged into a large park and a high school stands on the site of Ninomaru (the second castle) now. The moat surrounding Honmaru ruins is as deep and wide as those built in the early modern periods. Many other ruins including water moats and earth works remain in the former castle area and create a dignifying atmosphere.
Mikawa Fireworks are a traditional industry of Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture. Fireworks first began to be made when gunpowder became openly available during the Edo period. The making of firearms developed here in Okazaki and soon evolved into the production of fireworks.
The first fireworks entered Japan when the King of England presented them as a gift to the Shogun in Edo during the 1600s. On the night of August 6th, 1613, Hidetada, the second Shogun of Edo, set off the fireworks to welcome guests. Soon after, many fireworks were made and displayed, but much time was still needed to perfect the methods and skills of its production. Due to the many injuries caused by fireworks, they were once banned by the government.
Some of the most famous Mikawa Fireworks are the sea-based displays and the goldfish fireworks. The first fireworks display to take place in Mikawa was part of a festival held in 1948. The Okazaki Fireworks Display, as it is now known, is still held annually today.