Kanazawa Castle

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Kanazawa Castle
金沢城
Ishikawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan
Kanazawa-M-5937.jpg
Nagaya and yagura
Type Japanese castle
Site history
Built by Sakuma Morimasa
In use 1580-1871

Kanazawa Castle (金沢城 Kanazawa-jō?) is a large, well-restored castle in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. It is located adjacent to the celebrated Kenroku-en Garden, which once formed the castle's private outer garden.

History[edit]

Kanazawa Castle showing the Hashizume-mon Tsuzuki Yagura watchtower, Hashizume-ichi-no-mon Gate, and moat.

Two hundred and fifty regional lords, called daimyo, ruled over large domains in 16th century Japan. Though they were subordinate to the shogunate, they were relatively autonomous. Each daimyo asserted proprietary rights, levied taxes, established judicial procedures, and issued laws within his jurisdiction. Many constructed ''jōkamachi'', or castle towns, across the Japanese countryside.[1] Maeda Toshiie was one such daimyo. He was the fourth son of a minor samurai family, but entered the service of a powerful daimyo and warlord when he was 15. Thanks to his skill in battle, he rose quickly through the ranks, and in 1581 became daimyo of the province of Noto. Two years later, he also controlled portions of the Kaga area, including the town of Kanazawa. Under his rule, Kanazawa began to grow.[2]

The castle was greatly reconstructed in 1592 after the first of Hideyoshi's invasions of Korea, at which time its moats were dug. It was burned down and reconstructed in 1620-21 and again in 1631-32, then almost completely gutted in the great Kanazawa fire of 1759, and rebuilt in 1762 and 1788 (Ishikawa-mon Gate). After several minor fires and an earthquake, it was again destroyed by fire in 1881.

What remains, including the 1788 Ishikawa Gate, is now part of Kanazawa Castle Park. The Sanjukken Nagaya (an Important Cultural Asset) and the Tsurumaru Storehouse are two additional remaining structures.

The Hishi Yagura turret, Gojikken Nagaya warehouse, and Hashizume-mon Tsuzuki Yagura turret were faithfully restored in 2001 to their 1809 form, using traditional construction methods. Today's pillars are Japanese Hinoki Cypress with massive American cypress as ceiling beams. It is such a large structure within that in the late 18th century it was called "the palace of 1,000 tatami". The castle's distinctive, whitish roof tiles are made of lead. The reason for that is not only that they are fireproof, but legend says that also that in times of siege, the tiles could be melted down and cast into bullets.

Architecture[edit]

Even after Toshiie became the most powerful figure in northwestern Japan, rivals challenged him. Due to these attacks and the general military insecurity of the Sengoku period, or Warring States period, it was logical for the Maeda to construct a castle town that would be safe from attack. The Kanazawa castle is located at the center of the city, and it is built on the highest ground between the Sai and Asano rivers. A system of moats and canals surround the castle for extra protection. Though some were in place when Toshiie arrived in Kanazawa, the Maeda began to expand the system in the 1590s. Maeda Toshinaga, Toshiie’s son, built a system of inner moats that total over 3,000 meters in length, and another system of outer moats was added between 1600 and 1614. To supply drinking water, a series of canals, built from 1583-1630, connected to the moat system. All together, the system was nearly 15 kilometers long.[3]

For further protection, the castle was split into nine easily defensible areas. The units were divided with walls and gates, and the Maeda family lived in the honmaru, the main compound.[4] In most castle towns, a temple was deliberately placed in order to reinforce weak points in castle defenses. Kanazawa was no exception: the temple there was situated on a plateau some distance from the castle, most likely as retreat havens.[5]

Main features[edit]

The castle's main features are as follows:

  • Hishi Yagura - watchtower, three stories. Height of roof: 17.34 m above stone wall; total floor area: 255.35 m². This tower is built at a slight angle to the rest of the structures, which results in diamond-shaped internal pillars and hard-to-build connections within its complex web of internal pillars and beams.
Interior (Gojukken Nagaya), reconstructed 2001.
  • Gojikken Nagaya - long, hall-like, multi-sided turret normally used as a warehouse, two stories. Height of roof: 9.35 to 10.08 m above stone wall; total floor area: 1,384.95 m².
  • Hashizume-mon Tsuzuki Yagura - watchtower and command post, three stories. Height of roof: 14.69 m above stone wall; total floor area: 253.93 m².
  • Hashizume-ichi-no-mon Gate - entrance gate.
  • Tsuru-no-maru Dobei - double earthen wall. Height of roof: 2.91 m above stone wall.
  • Ishikawa-mon Gate - entrance gate with two distinctive styles of stonework. It has been designated an Important National Cultural Asset by the government. This gate faces one of the entrances of Kenrokuen park.

The castle sits within extensive grounds, currently organized as large, well-kept lawns and informal wooded areas, with various large walls, gates, and outbuildings.

Until 1989, Kanazawa University was located on the castle grounds. The large campus is now on the edge of town in an area called Kakuma. Prior to World War II, the grounds served as headquarters of the 9th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army.

Growth[edit]

Before the Maeda arrived in Kanazawa, the town had a population of only 5,000.[6] However, thanks to Maeda efforts, that number rose quickly. By 1700, Kanazawa rivaled Rome, Amsterdam, and Madrid in size with its population of over 100,000.[7] The Maeda summoned samurai retainers to live in Kanazawa and offered a set of incentives to attract the artisans and merchants needed to support the samurai population.[8] Chartered merchants and artisans received economic, social, and political privileges in exchange for moving to the city: they were guaranteed business, exempt from certain taxes, and given pieces of land for shops and residences.[9] These merchants and artisans were at the top of the chōnin, or townsman, social class.

Other merchants and artisans, who made up the rest of the chōnin, came without such promises. Some were first hired as servants for samurai or wealthy merchant families and decided to stay in the city even after their contracts expired, though most moved to Kanazawa for no reason other than the commercial opportunities the city presented. The government further facilitated growth by responding to the needs of these newcomers with projects like the Sai River Project. Because the Sai River split in two and the castle was located in the center, a part of the riverbed was unusable. In the 1610s, the construction project diverted the secondary stream into the main river, thus creating usable land, where four new wards opened for chōnin settlement.[10]

Some of these poorer merchants became successful enough to compete with chartered merchants for city administration positions, but many supported themselves by making and selling low cost goods, such as umbrellas and straw sandals, for mass consumption. This signifies that the commoner population of Kanazawa began to generate its own consumption demands, thus stimulating even more growth. Suddenly, samurai aside, merchants and artisans were needed to support the townspeople alone. Some even began selling explicitly to the chōnin.[11]

Kanazawa flourished largely because of a mutually beneficial relationship between the daimyo and the chōnin. The samurai relied on merchants and artisans for goods and services, while the chōnin were able to thrive because of the protection that the daimyo provided. Coming out of the Warring States period, castle towns were particularly appealing because of their security and defenses, both architecturally and thanks to samurai warriors who guarded the land.[12]

Kanazawa’s growth was indicative of a larger trend in Japan from 1580 to 1700: urbanization. In those 120 years, the population of the country nearly doubled, reaching approximately 30,000,000, and the percentage of people living in urban towns of more than 10,000 residents grew more than tenfold.[13] Kanazawa continued to grow until 1710, when the chōnin population reached 64,987, and the city’s total reached approximately 120,000. The population then stabilized.[14] It is important to note that much of the economic and population growth in Kanazawa, as well as in other Japanese castle towns, occurred during Japan’s closed country policy, or sakoku. Beginning in the 1630s, Japan had little or no influence from other countries. However, this phase was clearly not a sign of backwardness or decline. The growth that Japan experienced while operating under sakoku policy was largely possible because of castle towns such as Kanazawa. They facilitated growth in a way that did not require foreign influence, thus contributing to the success and stability of Japan at the time.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ McClain, James (1982). Kanazawa: A Seventeenth-Century Japanese Castle Town. New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 1–2. 
  2. ^ McClain, James (Summer 1980). "Castle Towns and Daimyo Authority: Kanazawa in the Years 1583-1630". Journal of Japanese Studies 6 (2): 273. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  3. ^ McClain, James (Summer 1980). "Castle Towns and Daimyo Authority: Kanazawa in the Years 1583-1630". Journal of Japanese Studies 6 (2): 267–99. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  4. ^ McClain, James (Summer 1980). "Castle Towns and Daimyo Authority: Kanazawa in the Years 1583-1630". Journal of Japanese Studies 6 (2): 267–99. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  5. ^ Yazaki, Takeo (1968). Social Change and the City of Japan. p. 157. 
  6. ^ Totman, Conrad (1993). Early Modern Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 152. 
  7. ^ McClain, James (1982). Kanazawa: A Seventeenth-Century Japanese Castle Town. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 2. 
  8. ^ McClain, James (Summer 1980). "Castle Towns and Daimyo Authority: Kanazawa in the Years 1583-1630". Journal of Japanese Studies 6 (2): 274. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  9. ^ McClain, James (Summer 1980). "Castle Towns and Daimyo Authority: Kanazawa in the Years 1583-1630". Journal of Japanese Studies 6 (2): 279–85. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  10. ^ McClain, James (Summer 1980). "Castle Towns and Daimyo Authority: Kanazawa in the Years 1583-1630". Journal of Japanese Studies 6 (2): 284–88. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  11. ^ McClain, James (Summer 1980). "Castle Towns and Daimyo Authority: Kanazawa in the Years 1583-1630". Journal of Japanese Studies 6 (2): 284–88. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  12. ^ McClain, James (Summer 1980). "Castle Towns and Daimyo Authority: Kanazawa in the Years 1583-1630". Journal of Japanese Studies 6 (2): 297. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  13. ^ McClain, James (1982). Kanazawa: A Seventeenth-Century Japanese Castle Town. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 1. 
  14. ^ McClain, James (Summer 1980). "Castle Towns and Daimyo Authority: Kanazawa in the Years 1583-1630". Journal of Japanese Studies 6 (2): 274. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  • Brochure, Kanazawa Castle Park
  • Mitchelhill, Jennifer (2013). Castles of the Samurai:Power & Beauty. USA: Kodansha. ISBN 978-1568365121. 

Literature[edit]

  • Mitchelhill, Jennifer (2013). Castles of the Samurai:Power & Beauty. USA: Kodansha. ISBN 978-1568365121. 
  • Schmorleitz, Morton S. (1974). Castles in Japan. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co. pp. 121–123. ISBN 0-8048-1102-4. 
  • Motoo, Hinago (1986). Japanese Castles. Tokyo: Kodansha. p. 200 pages. ISBN 0-87011-766-1. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Kanazawa Castle at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 36°33′52″N 136°39′33″E / 36.564317°N 136.659228°E / 36.564317; 136.659228