|Hirado, Nagasaki prefecture, Japan|
|Keep of Hirado Castle|
|Type||Hirayama-style Japanese castle|
|Condition||reconstruction from 1962|
|In use||Edo period|
|Built by||Matsuura Takashi|
Hirado Castle (平戸城 Hirado-jō?) was the seat of the Matsuura clan, the daimyo of Hirado Domain, of Hizen province, Kyūshū. It is located in present-day Hirado city Nagasaki prefecture, Japan. It was also known as Kameoka Castle (亀岡城 Kameoka-jō?).
Hirado Castle was built on top of a small, rounded mountainous peninsula facing Hirado Bay, surrounded on three sides by water.
After Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s successful conquest of Kyūshū, local warlord Matsuura Shigenobu was granted Hirado County and the Iki Island to be his domain. In 1599, Matsuura Shigenobu erected a castle called Hinotake-jō on the site of the present-day Hirado Castle. However, he burned the castle down himself in 1613, as a gesture of loyalty towards Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu, having served in the losing Toyotomi side during the Battle of Sekigahara. In return, he was allowed to retain his position as daimyō of Hirado Domain under the Tokugawa bakufu.
The present Hirado Castle was constructed in 1704 by order of the 4th daimyō of Hirado domain, Matsuura Takashi with the assistance of the Tokugawa shogunate. It was intended to be the keystone in coastal defense in the East China Sea region, as the government had by then implemented a policy of national seclusion against Western traders and missionaries. The design was partly influenced by the theories of the military strategist Yamaga Soko. The new construction was completed in 1718, and the castle remained home to the Matsuura daimyō until the Meiji Restoration of 1868.
In 1871, with the abolition of the han system, all structures of Hirado Castle were dismantled, with the exception of the northern gate, a yagura and the moat, and the grounds turned into Kameoka Park, with a Shinto shrine dedicated to the spirits of the successive generations of the Matsuura daimyō. The former residence of the final daimyō, Matsuura Akira was turned into a local history museum.
In 1962, four yagura, the ramparts, and the keep were reconstructed. The modern keep is a five-story steel-reinforced concrete structure, and contains a museum with artifacts of the Matsuura clan. One of these artifacts is a 93-cm long Japanese sword (tachi) dating from the Asuka period, and is locally purported to have been carried by a general during the time of the legendary Empress Jingu’s invasion of Korea. An heirloom of the Matsuura clan, it is now owned by Matsuura Shrine and is a designated as a National Important Cultural Property (ICP).
In 2006, Hirado Castle was listed as one of the 100 Fine Castles of Japan by the Japan Castle Foundation.
Hirado Castle stands on an island off Kyūshū.
- Schmorleitz, Morton S. (1974). Castles in Japan. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co. pp. 144–145. ISBN 0-8048-1102-4.
- Motoo, Hinago (1986). Japanese Castles. Tokyo: Kodansha. p. 200 pages. ISBN 0-87011-766-1.
- Mitchelhill, Jennifer (2004). Castles of the Samurai: Power and Beauty. Tokyo: Kodansha. p. 112 pages. ISBN 4-7700-2954-3.
- Turnbull, Stephen (2003). Japanese Castles 1540-1640. Osprey Publishing. p. 64 pages. ISBN 1-84176-429-9.
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