Japanese Castles in Japanese history

Himeji Castle, by Hiroshige (1860)
  • Many Japanese castles were built or renovated during the Sengoku period.
  • They usually have a moat to prevent the enemy to infiltrate by tunnels.
  • There are loopholes for guns and arrows (Himeji castle has more than 1000 loopholes).
  • They have a main gate used to trick the enemy. There are usually traps around the main gate.
  • Sometimes the number of floors are tricky (Matsuyama castle has 6 floors but looks like 5 from the outside).
  • There are hidden corridors, and confusing mazes that make it difficult to locate the commanding room such as the UNESCO world heritage site Himeji Castle.
  • Nijo Castle in Kyoto has nightingale floors that squeak to make sure the ninjas cannot raid in the middle of the night while people are sleeping.
  • Kumomoto castle has many fruit trees inside so that people can feed themselves by the fruits during a siege.
  • Azuchi castle was built on the top of a steep hill with a separate tower inside so that the residents could see the approaching groups from dozens of kilometers away.
  • Each castle had an official drum (taiko) beater samurai to tell the time.
  • It takes years to build a castle but according to a story Hideyoshi Toyotomi built the Sunomata castle overnight by using pre fabric walls.

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