Inside Inuyama Castle's Keep
In 1537, Oda Nobuyasu, Nobunaga’s uncle, built Inuyama Castle, which now has the honor of being Japan’s oldest surviving original castle. And what a history this castle has! In 1584 it served as the headquarters for Toyotomi Hideyoshi during the Komaki campaign against Tokugawa Ieyasu and eventually was given, along with the surrounding area in fief to the Naruse Masanori in 1617, whose family held it until the clan and fief system was abolished by the Meiji government in 1871. At this time, many of the castle’s walls and turrets were ordered destroyed leaving only a stone wall and the castle’s keep intact. In 1891, the area was struck by a very powerful earthquake which destroyed the remaining turrets and other structures. In a very rare move, in fact it is the only time this has happened that I am aware of, the Meiji government returned the castle to its former lord, the 9th Naruse daimyo, Masamitsu, under the condition that the family restore the castle. And thus the oldest castle in Japan became the only privately owned castle until 2004, when the family turned it over to the Aichi prefectural government. Upkeep and property taxes must have been a terrible drain on the Naruse family.
In 1935 Inuyama Castle was designated as a National Treasure and it really is something special. It’s one of my favorite castles. I’m particularly fond of the attached turret called a tsuke yagura .
For more information about this and other Japanese castles, check out the website Japanese Castle Explorer, run by my Flickr friend Daniel O'Grady at www.japanese-castle-explorer.com