Jouka-machi is a town developed and established around the residential castle of the local lord.
Jouka-machi is believed to have been established during the Sengoku period (from the middle to the end of 16th century). It resulted from the policy of Oda Nobunaga, in which warriors were separated from farmers and established into a full-time warrior-army. Oda Nobunaga made the warriors live at the foot of his castle and he brought in commerce and industry to develop the town commercially.
In the basic structure of jouka-machi the main road leads to the foot of the castle. As people settled there and business developed, a town was born.
In many cases, such castle towns had various devices to protect the residents and the castle, such as the effective use of rivers and building gates, as well as houses built so close to each other that they effectively concealed the castle. The town itself became a gigantic fortress.
The residential area was zoned according to the social status of the samurai warriors. The higher the status, the closer to the castle they lived. Other residents, as well as temples and shrines radiated out further from the castle as the town grew.
Even now, some towns preserve the feel and look of the old castle towns. Though modernized, some towns still keep the old names such as ban-chou, oote-machi and gofuku-machi that evoke olden times.
- Jouka-machi (Castle Town)