EDO Castle

. Famous places of Edo .

. Shiro - Japanese Castle Legends お城と伝説  .


Edo Castle, Edo joo, Edo-jō 江戸城

. Welcome to Edo 江戸 ! .


Edo Castle
by Aria Murasaka

The History of Edo Castle:
The Edo clan was the first to establish its base in the area, where would later be established the honmaru and ninomaru parts of Edo Castle a few centuries later, but soon disappeared. It's a man called Ota Dokan, carrying the order of the Uesugi clan, who built the original Edo Castle in 1457. It is thought that it was the same man who also started to redirect the course of rivers, most notably the Hirakawa river, to prevent floodings in the Edo Bay area. Soon though, the castle fell into the hands of the Hojo clan - their base would, however, remain Odawara. It's at the end of its siege in 1590 that they would be defeated by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and his allies, one of whom, Tokugawa Ieyasu, received the six provinces of the Kantô plain and elected Edo Castle as its base and living quarters

However, when he arrived at Edo, the view that welcomed him was less than comforting: Edo Castle, as built by Ota Dokan, was in shambles. One of his first tasks when he became shogun in 1603 was to launch the reconstruction of the castle and make it the appropriate base for the shogun and for the administration of an unified Japan. It took more than 40 years and the work was only finished under the third shogun, Iemitsu. At the time, it was simply the biggest castle in the world, with an outer defensive perimeter of 10 miles.

Unfortunately, the castle wasn't to remain intact for long: in 1657 broke the great Meireki fire, which left an enormous scare not only on the city itself, but also on the castle by destroying the tenshukaku (central keep) which dominated the main enceinte (see below, Edo Castle's plan). Meireki fire was only the greatest of a series of fires that plagued the structure, starting as early as the first decades of the 17th century, during its construction, until the 1860s, when several fires left little of the splendor of the Tokugawa's Edo Castle standing when the Emperor Meiji came to Edo, to be renamed Tokyo. On its grounds was established the imperial residence now named Kokyo. Some remains of the Edo Castle still stand in various areas, but are few and far between

Edo Castle's structure:
As mentioned previously, Edo Castle was the biggest castle when completed with a superficy of 957,000 square meters and a outer defensive perimeter of 16 kilometers. The naikaku (inner defensive perimeter) was of 6.4 kilometers and encompases 4 areas "subdivided by lesser moats and walls". The very heart of the castle was the main enceinte (honmaru 本丸, the citadel). In that part were located the Ooku (Great Interior), the women's compounds, a succession of rooms and corridors where the shogun's womenfolk lived, the Nakaoku (Middle Interior), where the shogun himself had his quarters, and the Omote (Exterior), which was every bit as much of a maze than the Ooku, but which served as offices for the shogun's officials.

Southwest of the main enceinte was the West Enceinte, where were located the heir apparent's quarters, themselves a half-scale replica of the the shogun's. The nearby Momijiyama (Maple Mountain) hosted shrines dedicated to former shoguns and ceremonies to their memory were regularly held. Those two enceintes were bordered east by a series of officials' residences and west a "green area" of gardens and woods called Fukiage; its purpose was also to protect the castle from conflagrations that regularly occured in the city.

The innermost is where is now located the East Imperial Garden (Higashi Gyoen), and the whole area once occupied by Edo Castle is now refered to as Imperial Palace since the 1960s. The current imperial quarters have all been built very recently.
© www.ancientworlds.net

. 江戸の大火 Edo no Taika "Great Fires of Edo" .
Great Fire of Meireki 明暦の大火 - March 2–3, 1657
The 天守閣 tenshukaku tower of Edo castle was also lost during the Meireki fire.
It was not rebuilt any more, to express the lasting peace of the Tokugawa bakufu and the money was spent to rebuilt the town. The gates at the bridges of Edo were also kept open for free transportation and trade in Edo, thus improving the life of the citizens. This also expressed the now lasting peace of the Tokugawa Bakufu, showing that a castle for war defense was no longer needed.


Honmaru, the "Main Circle" 本丸

Usually the innermost compound of a Japansese castle, where the Lord and his retainers were best protected in times of war. This enclosure was the core area of a castle. Later new enclosures were added, like the "second enclosure" (ni no maru 二の丸) and the "third enclosure" (san no maru 三の丸).
The center of this inner citadelle was the tower-like structure of the keep (tenshuu 天守), similar to a donjon in European castles. The walls of the tower were usually painted in white. The second Shogun, Hidetada, had the tower painted in black, though. The main tower of Edo castle was lost in a great fire in 1657 and has never been rebuilt since then.

Here is an illustration of the tower of Edo castle, which was later lost. It had an initial hight of about 44 meters with five levels outside and seven floors inside.

© www.tsukudojinja

My Reference about Edo Castle


- quote -
The Ōoku (大奥, "great interior")
refers to the harem of Edo Castle, the section where the women connected to the reigning shōgun resided. Similar areas in the castles of powerful daimyōs, such as the Satsuma Domain, were also referred to by this term.
- History
The Ōoku was built inside the Honmaru enceinte of Edo Castle in 1607 by Tokugawa Hidetada,^ who passed a special law for the Ōoku which was completely separated from the outside world. Therefore, noblewomen living in the Ōoku could not leave the castle without permission, and that no women within the Ōoku can have a relationship with man. This system lasted for nearly 200 years.
- Structure
- Organisation
- Notable persons
Kasuga no Tsubone
- In popular culture
- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !


. jookamachi 城下町 Jokamachi, castle town .
Edo, a town "below the castle"

- Reference - Guide to Japanese Castles
- source : www.jcastle.info


- Legends around Edo castle -

In the year 1823 on the 22nd day of the 4th lunar month at the 西の丸 Nishi no Maru of Edo castle, there was the location of the shoinban 御書院番 body guards. One samurai, Matsudaira Geki 松平外記 (? - 1823) suddenly became mad, pulled his sword and killed some people. On the New Year Day of this year, a stray dog had brought a severed head of a person and placed it at the front door of the Matsudaira clan home.
This was the foreboding omen 前兆 of the death of Geki.

Once all the shachihoko しゃちほこ bronze decorations from the gates, from 虎御門 Toranomon to 小石川御門 Koishikawa Gate had been removed.
Then suddenly strong winds did not blow any more and no rain fell. This was due to the 龍の仕業 Dragon curse. This phenomenon is also called tsunjikaze つんじかぜ .

- source : yokai database nichibun -


Edo joo no honmaru wa koko kobushi saku

Endo Kazuyoshi 遠藤和良

here it is,
the citadel of Edo Castle -
magnolias in bloom

© www.endo-kazuyoshi.com
(Tr. Gabi Greve)


Castle, a haiku topic

. WKD : Welcome to Edo 江戸 ! .

Ota Dokan, Oota Dookan
. Dookan Ki 道灌忌 (どうかんき) Dokan Memorial Day  


. Joonan 城南 Jonan, south of the castle .
Joohoku 城北 Johaku, north of the castle
Joosai 城西 Josai, west of the castle

. tenshukaku 天守閣 castle tower of Edo .

. Shiro - Japanese Castle Legends お城と伝説  .




Gabi Greve said...

Sotobori 外堀 / そとぼり / 外濠

The outer moat of Edo Castle

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

goyoogeikoo 御用稽古 "official training" of the samurai of Edo castle
swimming was especially taught to the elite of the group
okachigumi 御徒組 / 御徒方 shogun's foot guards 

suiei jooran 水泳上覧 day when the Shogun inspected the swimmers from his boat

Gabi Greve said...

Castle Games of the Edo Period
The Ôhashi records
An Eye-Witness Report Discovered by Masukawa Kôichi
As an official report about the attendance of the players at the Castle of the Shogun, the record does not deal with the ordinary life of the players. Even so the author accounts what he actually heard and saw. Therefore we are able to learn many facts and details hitherto unknown to the history of Go and Shogi. The aim of the records was not merely to inform the posterity. They also served as documents when a new superior (the Commissioner of Temples and Shrines) requested information about precedents.

The tournaments at the Castle were held regularly since 1667, seven years before this record was written. At that time the officially sponsored houses of Go and Shogi were obliged to move from Kyoto to Edo. This was the time when many medieval leftovers in the administration were removed by new provisions. Correspondingly, the roles of the players too seem to have taken a definite shape then.

Gabi Greve said...

- Mainichi Shinbun -
Letter shows plan to move Tokugawa shogunate headquarters to Osaka Castle
A letter penned by Edo-period tea master and landscape architect Kobori Enshu (1579-1647) indicating the possibility that there was a plan to move the Tokugawa shogunate headquarters from Tokyo to Osaka Castle in western Japan has been found.
The handwritten letter, dated Dec. 17, 1626, went on public display at Osaka Castle in Osaka's Chuo Ward from Jan. 26.

Measuring 17 centimeters by 2.45 meters, the letter is addressed to Kobori's father-in-law Todo Takatora, a renowned castle builder who designed Osaka Castle. Kobori rebuilt the castle on the orders of Tokugawa Hidetada, the second shogun of the Tokugawa government, after the castle was burned down in the Siege of Osaka in 1615.

In the letter, Kobori wrote, "Osaka should be (the shogun's) residential castle in the future." The description comes where Kobori recommends that Takatora offer garden stones to be placed at the castle. From the context and other factors, the line apparently indicates the possibility of Osaka Castle serving as the residence of Hidetada and third shogun Iemitsu.
Osaka Castle was rebuilt in 1629, but Hidetada passed away three years later. As the Tokugawa shogunate was settled in Edo, or present-day Tokyo, the Osaka headquarters plan apparently never came true. Kobori later became the tea master for Iemitsu.