Japanese Castles: Uwajima Castle
Uwajima Castle 宇和島城
Uwajima Castle is one of the dozen original castles in Japan and is located in Ehime Prefecture on Shikoku Island. Uwajima Castle is classified as a hirayamajiro - castle on a hill on a plain. Uwajima Castle occupies a small hill, that is now a wooded park, in the middle of Uwajima City, very close to the sea.
History of Uwajima Castle
The first record of there being a castle on the site was in 1546. The Uwajima Castle that mainly survives today was constructed between 1596 and 1601 by the prominent daimyo, Todo Takatora (1556-1630) who received his fief from the Taiko Hideyoshi Toyotomi. Todo was particularly famous for his castle-building activities, in particular for his outstanding castle design. After the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 Todo was moved to Imabari by the victorious Tokugawa Ieyasu, who he had supported in the battle.
The castle became known as Uwajima Castle only in 1615, when the daimyo Hidemune Date, the son of the Date feudal lord in Sendai, took up governance of Uwajima domain, the domain being a reward from the first shogun of Japan, Tokugawa Ieyasu, for the Date family's contribution to victory in the Siege of Osaka, which consolidated Ieyasu's power and made him supreme.
One of Todo Takatora's design strategies, still extant, is its five-sided site. The standard castle site in Japan was square, and enemies were postulated to attack on the assumption that a site was square. Such an attack on five-sided Uwajima Castle would be likely to leave a fifth side at least temporarily free, aiding defense.
Uwajima Castle is an original castle, preserving its original basic construction; however, the stone walls, castle tower, and watchtower were rebuilt by Hidemune Date starting in 1615, with various other modifications and additions such as turrets (yagura), gates and the stone walls taking place throughout most of the 17th century up until 1671.
The castle remained the stronghold of this branch of the Date family for 11 generations, up to 1871 when the feudal domains were abolished.
Uwajima castle suffered some demolishment during the late-19th century Meiji era and onwards, and some bombing in the Pacific War. The original parts of Uwajima Castle are the three story keep (an Important Cultural Property), the Noboritachimon Gate, the Hanro Korishi Bukenagaya Gate.
The Yamazato Weapons Storehouse, built in the mid-19th century, is now a museum displaying various cultural artefacts The main tower of the castle, too, houses some weaponry belonging to the castle's old owners.
What is now a lovely park (Tensha-en Koen) surrounds the castle, planted with cherry trees, wisteria, maples and pines.
Tel: 0895 22 2832
Admission: 200 yen for the castle tower, free for the park
6:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. April-September
6:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. October-March
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. April-September
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. October-March