Top 5 Japanese Castles

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Jun 12, 2019 17:22
This is the continuation of my previous post "Top 30 Japanese Castles" - talking about the popularity poll by castle lovers.

5th: Shiri Castle (Okinawa prefecture): 5049pts

Shuri-jo is World Heritage Sites and was built for the residential castle of Shohashi-king who unified the Ryukyu Kingdom that is today's Okinawa prefecture. The red and beautiful building shows the fusion of three cultures; china, Ryuku kingdom and Japan. The representative gate "Shurei-mon" is designed after 三間牌楼 in China, while the attached pillars called "Chigo-bashira" for support is after Japanese culture seen like in Torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine. The red roof tile is peculiar to Okinawa. Also, the curved stone walls are created of coral limestone which is soft and easy to process.
Interestingly, the number of nails of a dragon on sculptures in Shuri Castle is four. However, in China, a dragon is considered as the symbol of a Chinese Emperor and the number of nails is supposed to be five. They say that Shuri Castle refrained from fully copying in deference to China. In Japan, by the way, the number of nails of a dragon is three.

4th: Kumamoto Castle (Kumamoto prefecture): 5303pts

Kumamoto-jo is the strongest castle equipped with stone walls named as "Musha-gaeshi" (literally meaning "put back a warrior") whose curves of stonewalls are effective to prevent the invasion of enemies. The castle was built by Kiyomasa Kato, who is famed as "the master of castle construction."

In 2016, two earthquake of seismic intensity 7 hit the Kumamoto Castle and the castle was badly damaged. The damage of famous stone walls was up to 30 percent of all, therefore the repairwork became difficult.

By just seeing pictures, it was hard to identify the right place of the stone piece which had been used to be. Then a laboratory of Kumamoto University created the "stone walls matching system" by using VR digital archive data in order to improve efficiency to specify the right location for the stone. It uplifted the reconstruction work and the castle is now restoring the grand and magnificent figure.

3rd: Matsumoto Castle (Nagano prefecture): 5395pts

Matsumoto-jo is a national treasure and is one of "the 12 Castles with Existing Castle Towers." After Hideyoshi Toyotomi ruled the whole nation, it was established in order to observe Ieyasu Tokugawa who gained the power in Kanto region. Shining jet black walls of the castle are lacquered every year.

Although the castle was built expecting a gun battle in Sengoku period, there are also peaceful spaces without preparations for battles such as tatsumitsuke-yagura/辰巳附櫓 or tuskimi-yagura/月見櫓 (a turret to view the moon) extended during Edo era; the castle has two aspects of peace and war. Tsukimi Yagura is constructed to entertain the third shogun Iemitsu, however, the bad road condition because of rock falls obstructed him to visit Matsumoto Castle.

2nd: Osaka Castle (Osaka prefecture): 7613pts

Osaka-jo is a giant and gorgeous castle that is known for the Japan highest 34 meters stone walls in the huge site as wide as 22 Tokyo domes. Although Osaka Castle was built by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the current donjon is not the original one. After Hideyoshi died, Ieyasu destroyed and buried it. Afterwards, the second shogun Hidetada built the totally new castle. In Showa 34, the stone walls of Hideyoshi era, constructed by the old piling way "Nozura-zumi", was discovered from 7 meters deep in the ground.

1st: Himeji Castle (Hyogo prefecture): 16771pts

Himeji-jo is the only castle that has three titles; World Heritage, national treasure, and the 12 Castles with Existing Castle Towers. 8 buildings including the main donjon are national treasures and 74 constructions are national important cultural assets. The white castle shining beautifully has another name "Shirasagi Castle." Shirasagi means an egret.