Japanese Castles: Kakegawa Castle
Kakegawa Castle 掛川城
Kakegawa Castle (Tel: 0537 22 1147) is located on a small hill, a 15-minute walk north of JR Kakegawa Station in an area of what is now pleasant parkland.
Kakegawa Castle was first built by Asahina Yasuhiro in 1513, acting on the orders of Imagawa Yoshitada. Later the castle fell in to the hands of Yamauchi Kazutoyo, a vassal of Hideyoshi Toyotomi and well-known in Japan as the hero of the NHK period drama Koumyougatsuji.
After the battle of Sekigahara in 1600 the Toyotomi clan was defeated and castle reverted to the control of Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of the most influential men in Japanese history, and the founder of the Tokugawa dynasty.
Takegawa had grown to be a wealthy castle town during the Edo Period, due to its location on the Tokaido highway between Kyoto and Edo and the favor of the Tokugawa regime.
The original castle donjon or keep was partially destroyed in an earthquake in 1854 and was completely demolished in 1869 with the end of the Tokugawa regime.
The castle was used by various civic institutions including a girl's school, city hall and the fire brigade until the 1980s. In 1994, the castle keep became the first to be rebuilt using traditional methods in Japan.
The restored keep has good views over the town and the usual displays of weapons and armor. Of more historical interest is the superb, original goten or palace, which was restored by the feudal lord Ota Sukekatsu after the 1854 earthquake and mostly dates from that period.
The one-storied, wooden building building has a tiled roof and is covered throughout with tatami flooring. The palace contains the offices, waiting rooms (san-no-ma) and meeting rooms where the lord received visitors (goshoin-kani-no-ma) and consulted with his vassals (tsugi-no-ma)
The different entrances for people of different rank and social class are a fascinating insight into Edo Period society. On display inside the castle are more fearsome samurai weaponry and family heirlooms from the feudal lords including some macabre golden skulls, used as money boxes.
Behind the palace is the Kakegawa Ninomaru Museum of Art (Tel: 0537 62 2061) and a public tea room, the Ninomaru Tea Room (Tel: 0537 23 1199).
By road, exit the Tomei Expressway at Kakegawa Interchange.
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