m bull Illustrated. by Peter Dennis, 8
Introduction Japanese castles in their historical conten
Chronology Design and development o f the Japanese castle The first Japanese casder 'The rengoku pmoshim .The invoduction of rmne The development of the tower keep .Japanese castles in Korea .The use of earthwork
Elements and features of the Japanese castle
The overall layaut .The castle wall Bridges and gates. b d e towen .The castle keep Buildings canle -The principles of defence Mining and countermining Caepulc bombardment
The living site -
Daily IHe in the &e
in peacetime .The Qxle garrison in peacerime .The castle as palace The prepantion for war b d and water. Prychological pressure.
The operational history of Japanese castles
Early pmorhim apenclons Sengoku yomarhim operations Opencionr against d e r of stone
Aftermath The castle cow
Japanese castles today Bibliography and further reading Glossary Index
The casrle of Shimabara in Kyurhu, a fine example of the classic rryle of developed Japanese castle architenure. involving the elements of a moat the all-impomnt huge stone barer, which are the hallmarki of a Japanese castle, and the graceful ruperrvunure.We see here one of the corner towers, and the long white small walls pierced with gun and a m w loops.
Japanese castles as we see them today are not only final products of a long process of military evolution, but also evidence of a military revolution. In the latter half of the 16th century Japanese warfare was transformed. It changed from an activity characterised by the use of loosely organised troops wielding bows and arrows and defending largely wooden fortifications, to one that involved well-disciplined infantry units armed with guns, fighting from castles of stone. The similarities to the military revolution that was taking place in Europe at the same time are striking, but until the beginning of this period there had been no cultural contact between Japan and Europe. Contact was made when a Portuguese ship was wrecked on the Japanese coast in 1543, and the two cultures soon began to realise how their widely separated worlds had been evolving in roughly similar ways. Both were experiencing warfare on a larger scale than ever before, which required the development of strong internal army organisation and good discipline, and both were seeing a move towards a preference for fighting on foot. Yet there were also some fascinating differences, at the same time that the European knight was giving up his lance for the pistol, the mounted samurai was abandoning his bow for a spear.
However, it is in the field of castles and fortifications that both similarities and differences are found in the greatest abundance. Italian visitors to Oda Nobunaga's castle of Amchi in 1579 compared i t favourably with any contemporary European fortress, and remarked particularly on the richness of the decorations and the strength of the stone walls. As none of these early visitors were military men, rather merchants or priests, they cannot be expected to have commented upon Japanese castles from a position of technical knowledge, but it is abundantly clear from the impression given to them by the walls of Amchi, Osaka and Edo, all of which were enthusiastically described in contemporaryJesuit writings, that they were making comparisons with existing structures in Spain or Italy. So what were they actually comparing the Japanese castles to? By the mid-16th century the huge sloping stone walls that surrounded Verona, Sienna or Rome had become a recognised and vital part of the townscape of a successful city. They were the defining features of the trace italin~ize,the fortification style characterised by the use of the angle bastion, which was designed for artillery warfare and was the most important architectural innovation since the arch. The walls of fortresses such as Osaka certainly had much in common with the European system, but what the visitors did not know was that these curiously similar structures had a completely different developmental history, were built in a completely different way, and were designed to withstand attacks of a completely different nature. The pages that follow will offer a detailed discussion on these points, all of which went towards making the Japanese castle into a unique form of defensive architecture that acknowledged its own culture and tradition, yet responded imaginatively to changing conditions of warfare. Like those in contemporary Europe, Japanese castles experienced conflict on a huge scale when all the theory behind them was tested to destruction in half a century of fierce civil war.
Japanese castles in their historical context By the time that the first stone walls began to appear around Japanese castles, an innovation that can be seen from about 1550 onwards, Japan had already experienced intermittent bouts of civil war for almost 1,000 years. The key to understanding the reasons for such conflicts, and the nature of the Japanese castles that arose in response to them, involves an appreciation of Japan's physical isolation from continental Asia. This protected her from some dangers, so that while China and Korea were being ravaged by the Mongol hordes in the 13th century, life was comparatively peaceful in Japan. Attempts to invade Japan were repulsed in 1274 and 1281, but this splendid isolation also meant that Japan could not expand into her neighbours' territories to acquire more cultivable land, something that Japan was desperately short of. As the struggle for land grew, the possession of military force was the best guarantor of securing new lands and of then defending them against rapacious neighbours. The establishment of the rule of the shogun (military dictator) after the triumph of the Minamoto family in the Gempei Wars of 1180-85 provided some measure of stability amid the rivalries, but invading Mongols, rebellious emperors (who resented the purely ceremonial role forced upon their sacred office by the shogun), family leaders whose wealth rivalled that of the shogun, peasant revolts and fierce religious fanatics all played their part in disrupting the theoretical calm. In 1467 the Onin War, so called from the nengo (year period) in which it began, broke out between two rival samurai clans. Kyoto, the Japanese capital, was laid waste and among the smouldering ins of palaces and temples lay the blackened remains of shogunal prestige. From this time on any centralised authority that was left counted for little against the naked military might of the dnimy6 (great names) as the rival warlords termed
Design and d e v e l o p m e n t of t h e Japanese castle The first Japanese castles
The moat and pam of the wails of the mighty Osaka castle. built by Toyotomi Hideyorhi in 1586.Thir 'rmap rhowr the interesting contrast between the seemingly haphazard arrangement of stoner in the main sections of the wails and the near dovetailing of fully dressed stoner where the wails intersect to form exterior mrnerr.
The nature of the first Japanese castles illustrates another factor that arose from Japan's isolation from continental Asia - the development of a very different tradition of defensive architecture from that of China and Korea. The biggest variation lay in the almost total absence from Japan of the walled town, which was where the wealth of Ancient China was concentrated. With no barbarian hordes to fear on their islands, the threat to Japan came mainly from internal rebels, who tended to establish themselves in purely military strongpoints. As the Japanese landscape is predominantly wooded and mountainous, it is not surprising to 6nd these two Factors combined in the design of most of Japan's earliest fortresses. A multitude of hilltop sites provided both the defensive topography and the building materials that were needed to strengthen their natural positions. The result was the development of a style of castle known as the yamaslzim (mountain castle), which was to continue being built in remote areas long after the introduction of stone castles, due to reasons of convenience and availability. For the earliest yanzaslziro (and for simple fortresses right throughout the period) little was done to alter the overall shape of the existing mountain or hill other than stripping the summit of enough tree cover to provide building materials and to allow good fields of new and arcs of fire. The slopes of the steeply sided hill or ridge would be allowed to retain their forested cover to prevent soil erosion and to provide another defensive barrier. Firm footpaths would be constructed linking different peaks together, thus producing a yamashiro complex that consisted simply of a number of stockaded hilltops joined to each other. There are several illustrations of yamashiro castles in the picture scrolls of campaigns and battles fought during the Later Heian Period, from about AD 950 onwards. In all cases the landscape has been used intelligently
and economically. This leads to numerous variations of yamashiro depending on location, with great differences between those located in mountainous areas and those built in flatlands surrounded by rivers and flooded rice fields, where the castle would be referred to as a hirajim (plain castle). A mixture of the two styles was known as hirayamajiro (a castle on mountain and plain). On the excavated hilltops there would be built quite intricate arrangements of wooden palisades, decorated wooden towers, gateways and domestic buildings. The solid wooden walls of the palisades were pierced with arrow slits, and in some cases rocks were slung by ropes through holes. In the event of an attack the rope would be cut, allowing the rocks to fall against an enemy. Towers were enclosed at the top with wooden walls or portable wooden shields, and from these vantage points archers fired longbows and crossbows, or simply threw down stones, the...