Friday, July 27, 2012

History of Matsuyama Castle

The founder of Matsuyama Castle was Yoshiaki Katoh, who was born in 1563 in Aichi Prefecture. His father was a samurai and died when Yoshiaki was 6 years old. Yoshiaki became a member of the Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s army. At the age of 20, he became famous at the battle of shizugadake as one of the seven spears men in Hideyoshi Tootomi’s forces. Katoh was appointed lord of Masaki (town next to Matsuyama) with revenue of 60,000 koku (bales of rice). In the battles in 1592 and 1597 he served with the navy and for his good work was raised to 100,000 koku. At the battle of Sekigahara (1600), he joined Ieyasu Tokugawa’s army and was allotted 200,000 koku because of his brave works. In 1602 he decided to build a castle on Katsuyama Hill in the center of Dogo Plain. He ordered Shigenobu Adachi to prepare the sight and begin construction. In 1603 katoh, his retainers and people of Masaki moved into Matsuyama. Construction continued for 24 years and was completed in 1627. At that time the donjon was magnificent with five roofs and stories. After staying in Matsuyama for 25 years, Katoh was transferred to Aizu in northern Japan.
Tadachika Gamoh, who came from Yamagata Prefecture in northern Japan, became the new lord of the castle in 1627. Though he completed the NIMARU (intermediate outworks of the castle), he died 7 years later without leaving an heir.
In 1635, the castle finally passed to the lord of Kuwana (Mie Prefecture), Sadayuki Matsuaira, with revenue of 150,000 koku. The donjon was rebuilt with 3 stories in 1642. On New Year’s Day in 1784, the donjon was struck by lightning and burned down. Reconstruction of the present structure was begun in 1820 and completed after 35 years in 1854.
During the Showa Era (1926-1989) the Small Donjon and others of the turrets were destroyed by arson or bombing during the war. Since 1966 the City of Matsuyama has continued has continued reconstruction efforts with wood in the original style of the castle, and the original figure will be seen someday. The castle is located at the top of Katsuyama Hill (132m = 433 feet) in the center of the city. Near the foot of the mountain are the NINOMARU (intermediate outworks of the castle), and SANNOMARU (the moat containing Horinouchi Park). It is thus a rather large scale, and is widely known as one of the three big multiple wing castles in Japan which are built on a hill in the center of a plain, the others being Wakayama Castle and Himeji Castle.

Stories Surrounding the Construction

First the site of the castle and then construction of the stone base was begun. Most of the stones were brought from the old Yuzuki Castle and the Masaki Castle sites, though some were mined in the nearby areas. There is an interesting episode concerning the conveying of the stones. In the Masaki area the women who peddled fish in basins carried on their heads were called “otata.” These women are said to have carried the gravel in their basins on their heads, from Masaki to Matsuyama. Katoh’s wife rewarded them for their hard work with hand-shaped rice balls. Later, when the roof tiles were carried to the mountain, construction was disrupted while waiting. It is said that Shibenobu Adachi mobilized local farmers to make a human chain in three directions, and the tiles were handed from person to person down the line and the entire lot was transferred to the castle in one night. Yoshiaki Katoh is said to have been quite surprised by this feat.

The Meiji Restoration and Matsuyama Castle

When Matsudaira, a relative of Tokugama, became Lord of Matsuyama Castle, Matsuyama became a relative fief of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Near the end of the Tokugawa Era, which resulted in the demise of feudalism, there was a civil war between the supporters of the Shogun and those of the Emperor. As a relative of the Shogun, the Matsuyama lord joined several battles on the Emperor on the side of the Shogun-ate. At the Meiji Restoration, political power changed hands from the Shogun to the Emperor and the Matsuyama lord was labeled an enemy to be tracked down and attacked. In the Matsuyama fief there was some conflict about whether to submit or to stand and fight. Lord Sadaaki Matsudaira made the decision to submit. He allowed Tosa soldiers from the new government to enter the castle, showing that he had no intentions of fighting the Emperor, and he himself took refuge at the Josinji Temple in Matsuyama, showing his penitence. His sincerity was accepted by the new government and he was saved from attack. Thus Matsuyama Castle was saved from being destroyed by the fire of war and remained as it was. Jurisdiction over the castle was moved to several Ministries in turn and in 1923 was given to Matsuyama City by Sadakoto Hisamatsu.
Material Source is a brochure developed by Iyo Railway Co. Ltd.

Matsuyama Castle Site Locations

5 Donjon (important cultural property) & 1 small Donjon

This donjon has three stories, three roofs, and a cellar, and was constructed in the latter period of such donjon’s in Japan. The techniques and materials are first-rate. The small donjon is the defense turret of the castle front and the side defense against rear attack and located in the place where NONOMARE (the lowers west side of the mountain) and SANNOMARE (inside of Horinouchi Park) areas can be observed. The small donjon is so named because the turret is the second important turret after the main donjon. Two fabulous dolphin-like fish are at the ends of the pinnacle of the roof and give the architecture of the castle its dignity.

2 South Corner Turret, 3 Jikken Hallway and 4 North Corner Turret

This hallway is the important defense turret against attack from the west side. The length of the hallway is ten ken (1 ken = 5.965 feet) and it connects North Corner Turret and South Corner Turret.

15 Nohara Turret (important cultural property)

This turret and INUE (Northwest) turret are for defense of the northwest side of the main castle and also of OZUTSU turret (remains) and the northern area of the main castle. This is the oldest structure in Matsuyama Castle.

17 Well

When this mountain was made by joining two hills, one in the north and the other in the south, it is said they kept a spring at this point and made it into a well. This well was used for drinking water at the castle. Diameter 2m (6 feet, 7 inches) Depth 44.2m (145 feet).

23 Ushitora (Northeast) Mon Gate 24 East Turret of Ushitora Mon Gate

These structures are located in the east side of the main castle and provide defense for these areas. They also were used as a special exit for counterattacking the enemies from the side in Agekido Mon Gate (Southeast) and Inui (Northwest) Mon Gate.

18 Taiko (Drum) Mon Gate 19 Taiko (Drum) Turret

TAIKO MON Gate, TAIKO connected turret, TAIKO Turret and TATSUMI (Southwest) Turret comprise one unit of defense, standing on a 6.9m (22.6 feet) stone wall. They provide strong defense against enemies who intrude through TSUTSUI MON Gate. On the west point of the stone wall lies TAIKO Turret. There was a 24.4m (80 feet) long fence between TAIKO MON Gate and TAIKO Turret, which stands on the west edge of the stone wall. 16 gun turrets and three points for dropping stones on the enemy were incorporated in this long fence.

6 TENJIN Turret

The place where this turret stands is the “demon’s gate” (the northeastern quarter is an unlucky quarter). The idol of Michizane Sugawara, deified scholar of the ninth century, also called TENJINSAMA, is kept here. Thus the name. This is one of the rare turrets which has nothing to do with military strategy.

7 SUJIGANE (Iron) MON Gate

This gate is important to the inner court of the main castle. The upper turret of this gate is the passage between the Donjon and the Small Donjon and is designed to allow shooting of intruders from the Third Gate.

9 The First Gate (Ichinomon)

The First Gate is the main gate to the donjon, its use of large boards and wood making a bold structure. Entering the gate you will see a small square which is surrounded by and designed to allow defense from such structures as the South Turret of the First Gate. East Fence of the First Gate, the Second Gate, South Turret of the Second Gate, South Turret of the Second Gate and South Turret of the Third Gate.

11 SHICHIKU (Bamboo) MON Gate (important cultural property)

This gate and fences of this gate which are connected with the main castle, are important structures for separating frontal attackers from rear attackers.

12 INUE (Northwest) Turret (important cultural properties)

This turret is a two-storied structure and stands at the Northwest corner, which is called INUE in old Japanese. This is an important defense building for rear attack with the first gate of INUE, INUE MON Gate. This turret is said to have been transferred from Masaki Castle.

13 INUE (Northwest) MON Gate 14 East Turret of INUE MON Gate

This gate and turret are said to have been transferred from Masaki Castle in the early 17th Century and are the most important defense structures for rear attack.

20 KAKURE (hidden) MON Gate (important cultural property)

This gate was built after TSUTSUI MON Gate was transferred from MASAKI Castle and is designed for surprise attack on the rear of the enemies who are trying to intrude through TSUTSUI MON Gate. The gate and Hidden gate Turret from the side of TSUTSUI MON Gate, and in spite of the small scale the large boards and wood make a bold structure. This gate with its lookout points and windows is reminiscent of the original Matsuyama Castle.


This gate is said to have been transferred from MASAKI Castle. Maskaki is the town next to Matsuyama. It is one of the most important defense points for frontal attack.

22 TONASHI MON Gate (Doorless Gate – important cultural property).

This gate is a KOHRAIMON gate, that is, it consists of two pairs of pillars, and is so named because it has no door. Some people believe this is because the plan was to let the enemy go through this gate easily and attack the next gates of TSUTSUI MON Gate and the Hidden Gate, where they could be surrounded and countered completely. This gate, TSUTSUI MON Gate, and Hidden Gate are the most important defense points against frontal attack and attack from the areas of the intermediate and outermost outworks of the castle.

Matsuyama Castle Chronology

Matsuyama Castle Location

Material Source is a brochure developed by Iyo Railway Co. Ltd.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Shopping at Maruyoshi

Maruyoshi is a chain of Japanese supermarkets. They are located on Shikoku Island and they have over 35 stores. The prices are good and the food is fresh. Most Japanese markets sell beer and wine (sake) along side of their other offerings. It’s always fun to go into these stores. When you check out, you pay, the cashier gives you your change and a bag to place everything in. You take the cart to a table where you pack your own merchandise, drop the basket off along with the cart and carry your goods out to your car or your bike for the ride home.

Maruyoshi Website in Japanese

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Force is with Pachinko

Marketing Pachinko using "the force." This company has licensed the Star Wars theme to promote their line of Pachinko Machines. What Lucas films and other Hollywood factions do, is sell their rights to market their creative concepts to other companies. This company created a collection of Pachinko Machines with Star Wars themes. When a Pachinko Parlor purchases or leases the machines, they get these display materials as part of the package (flag banners, display board and mannequin).

The web site (below) continues the marketing approach but it also carries a complete timeline of the Star Wars franchise, the Pachinko machines they are promoting, different aspects of making the Star Wars films and it even includes a detailed genealogical map of how all the Star Wars characters are interelated. Quite an impressive effort, as Darth Vader would say. It's entirely in Japanese but it is a fun visit. The only thing lacking in the display is the Darth Vader Mannequin. As Luke Skywalker would have said, as he did when he first saw the Millenium Falcon, "what a piece of junk!"

The mannequin is beckoning the passerby to come in ane experience the force of Pachinko.

Star Wars Pachinko Japan

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Soul Franky

To be young is to be influenced by fashion. Doesn't mean it will be comfortable or even make sense. It's about looking good, attracting the attention of the opposite sex and being vogue.