Kawagoe Castle

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Kawagoe Castle
川越城
Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan
Kawagoe castle-Honmaru-2006-02-12.jpg
Coordinates 35°55′28″N 139°29′29″E / 35.924514°N 139.491503°E / 35.924514; 139.491503Coordinates: 35°55′28″N 139°29′29″E / 35.924514°N 139.491503°E / 35.924514; 139.491503
Type Japanese castle
Site information
Controlled by Kawagoe clan, Hōjō clan, Uesugi clan
Condition Dismantled, relocated. Some buildings remain on or near the original site.
Site history
Built 1457
Built by Ōta Dōshin, Ōta Dōkan
In use 1457-c. 1870
Demolished 1870
Battles/wars Battle of Kawagoe (1545)

Kawagoe Castle (川越城?, Kawagoe-jō) is a flatland Japanese castle in the city of Kawagoe, in Japan's Saitama Prefecture. It is the closest castle to Tokyo to be accessible to visitors, as Edo castle is now the Imperial palace, and largely inaccessible.

Along with a number of other castles in the region, Kawagoe saw much action in the 15th-16th centuries, as the Hōjō clan and two branches of the Uesugi clan vied for control of the Kantō region. In the 1450s, Kawagoe was held by the Yamanouchi branch of the Uesugi; the Ogigayatsu branch controlled nearby Shirai castle in Shimōsa Province, and the newly built Edo castle, which significantly bolstered their tactical advantages over their Yamanouchi cousins.

Decades later, when the Hōjō clan sought to gain control of the Kantō, Kawagoe served as an important base of operations. Hōjō Ujitsuna seized it in 1537, and took Edo castle in 1524. For roughly two decades after that, the Uesugi launched a number of attempts to regain the region; in the 1545 battle of Kawagoe, the Hōjō garrison of Kawagoe defeated an attempted siege of Edo castle; this victory would lead to the end of Uesugi power in the region, and the near-total destruction of that clan.

The Hōjō having secured themselves in the region, Kawagoe served for another forty-five years as a satellite fortress defending Edo, and the clan's central castle at Odawara. Kawagoe commanded the road to Echigo province to the west, and its location on the Sumida River and near the Edo River were important elements of its tactical significance in defending the Kantō from attacks from the north.

From the fall of the Hōjō until the end of the Edo period, it was the headquarters of the Kawagoe Domain.

Modern fate[edit]

In 1870 dismantlement of the castle began. Some of the buildings were relocated in Kawagoe and to nearby cities.

Today only a mound on which a yagura, or tower, and the primary hall (本丸御殿?, Honmaru Goten) still remain on the original site. In 1967 the Saitama Prefectural Government designated it as a Tangible Cultural Property. The Karō Assembly Room (家老詰所?, Karō Tsumesho) was relocated back to the enclosure but not quite on the original site. It was also designated as a Tangible Cultural Property in 1991.

References[edit]

  • Sansom, George (1961). "A History of Japan: 1334-1615." Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
  • ja:川越城 Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. (Japanese) as of 2008-03-07.

Literature[edit]

  • Schmorleitz, Morton S. (1974). Castles in Japan. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co. ISBN 0-8048-1102-4.