Japanese Castles: Yatsushiro Castle, Kumamoto Prefecture
Yatsushiro Castle 八代城
History of Yatsushiro Castle
During the Edo Period (1603-1868) the ruling Tokugawa shogunate imposed a "One Castle Per Domain" policy on the daimyo (feudal lords).
Kumamoto domain, in central Kyushu, however were allowed to have two castles, their main one in Kumamoto itself, and a secondary one Mugishima Castle near the southern edge of the domain. The reason why Kumamoto was allowed two castles was that the Kumamoto domain was to act as additional bulwarks against three forces that the Shogunate perceived as threats; the powerful Shimazu clan to the south who, though they had sworn loyalty to the Shogunate, were not trusted, Christianity, which was starting to be suppressed by the shogunate and was particularly strong in central Kyushu, and, foreigners, who had historically approached and entered Japan through Kyushu.
Mugishima Castle was severely damaged in an earthquake in 1619 and Kato Masakata received permission to construct a replacement. The Kato were transferred not long after and for a short time the Hosokawa had control and finished construction.
In 1645 the Matsui clan were given control of the castle and they held it until 1870 when the castle was decommissioned. In 1672 some of the castle buildings were destroyed by a fire and were not replaced. A further fire in 1797 destroyed more structures, but they were replaced. All that remains now is the moat and the stonework. The castle grounds are now a small park with a large shrine.
Yatsushiro Castle was known as Shirasagi Castle, White Egret Castle, as it was constructed out of white limestone. The city has a plan to restore the stonework to its former brightness and so you may see teams of volunteers scraping and polishing away the accumulated centuries of grime to reveal the white stonework in time for the Yatsushiro Castle's 400 year anniversary in 2022.
Yatsushiro Castle Access
Entry to the castle grounds is free.
Matsuejomachi, Yatsushiro-shi, Kumamoto 866 0862
Tel: 0965 33 4115
Yatsushiro is half an hour on foot or a bus ride from Yatsushiro Station on the Kumamoto Line. Yatsushiro is 35 minutes from Kumamoto by train. Shin-Yatsushiro Station is on the Kyushu Shinkansen and is just four minutes from Yatsushiro Station on the train.
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