Characteristics and sight-seeing guide of Yamagata Castle
Characteristics of Yamagata Castle
Yamagata Castle as one of the nation's largest scale
Yamagata Castle is the largest castle in the Tohoku region and is a contoured flat castle with the Honmaru main enclosure (2.83 hectares), Ninomaru second bailey (27.99 hectares), and Sannomaru third bailey (234.86 hectares) surrounded by triple moats and earthen mounds. The outer wall, Sannomaru, is wider than the outer wall (about 233 hectares) and inner ring (about 23 hectares) of Himeji Castle, which has the largest existing castle tower in Japan. It is said locally that the castle was called "Kasumiga-jo" (castle of fog) during the Keicho Dewa Battle, known as the "Sekigahara of the North", because the castle was hidden from view by haze.
The stone walls are made of stone materials of broken cobblestone (andesite) mined from the Mamigasaki-gawa River, and the broken surface is used for the front. There was no castle tower in the Honmaru area, only a Goten palace, but there was a three-story turret in the Ninomaru area until the early Edo period. The moat, earthen mounds, and stone walls of Ninomaru, which still remain today, are said to have been renovated by TORII Tadamasa, who became the lord of the castle in Genna 8 (1622) after the Mogami clan was disposed of, and later by HOSHINA Masayuki.
Higashi Ote-mon (eastern major gate) is reminiscent of the castle gate of Edo Castle
The Ninomaru Higashi Ote-mon is an important gate that can be called the main entrance to Yamagata Castle. In the days of the Mogami clan, the Higashi Ote-mon was an outer square gate overhanging the moat called Soto-masugata type (a square shape and built outside the castle entrance). Later, after renovation work to expand the Ninomaru area, it was transformed into the current form called the uchi-masugata type (a walled compound of a square shape and built inside the entrance to a defensive installation).
In the Tokugawa era, the role of castles and gates changed drastically as the times changed from war to peace. In Yamagata Castle, where the Honmaru and Ninomaru were the center of the castle, the Higashi Ote-mon, which consisted of Yagura-mon turret gate, Tsuzuki Yagura continuation turret, Korai-mon gate, and an earthen wall around Masugata square, played a role in showing the dignity of the feudal lord to the people. The gate was restored in Heisei 3 (1991) based on materials from the mid-Edo period, and was used as an Edo Castle scene in the movie "Super-High Speed! Sankin-kotai" as well as television commercials.
Castle Gates of Yamagata Castle
Yamagata Castle is surrounded by the earthen mounds, but the stone walls are used for the castle gates exclusively.
Sannomaru third bailey has 11 doorways, and was also called the "castle of good luck character" because the number becomes the letter meaning "good luck" when the Chinese character for mouth is added to the Chinese character for the number of 11.
In addition, defense structure is seen everywhere in the castle; the entrances and exits to Ninomaru and Sanomaru are crooked, and the roads connecting the inside and outside of the castle are built in T-shape or crooked without alignment to one another.
A first for Japan! Folding-screen-shaped Earthen Wall
The foundation stone of a folding-screen earthen wall was discovered in the earthen mound on the north side of Ninomaru. Earthen walls were built to defend from the enemy while attacking with guns or bows through holes in the wall and hiding in the shadows. Ordinary earthen walls can only be attacked from the front, but the folding screen earthen walls have bends in some places that allow the attacker to attack enemies on both sides. This is a far more defensive earthen wall.
In other castles, there are depictions of folding-screen earthen walls in castle drawings, but all traces of them are now lost. Yamagata Castle was the first castle in Japan to have them actually detected as foundation stones.