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Kakegawa Castle and Gate

Kakegawa Castle, strategically located along the old Tōkaidō Road in Shizuoka prefecture, is in the heart of one of Japan’s best tea cultivation centers. The peaceful atmosphere that prevails through the area wasn’t always so. Shizuoka prefecture used to be formally a part of Tōtōmi province, in a region known as the Enshū area, which was hotly contested by various warlords during Japan’s Sengoku warring states period that lasted from roughly 1477-1600. The first castle on the site of the present Kakegawa-jō was built in the late 15th century by Asahina Yasuhiro, a retainer of the house of Imagawa, which consolidated its hold over Tōtōmi during and after the Ōnin War (1467–1477). The Ashina continued to hold the castle on behalf of the Imagawa until shortly after their spectacular defeat at Okehazama in 1560. As the Imagawa faded into obscurity, Tōtōmi was carved into two spheres of influence controlled by the competing Tokugawa and Takeda families. The Ashina surrendered Kakegawa Castle to the Tokugawa in 1568.


After the Tokugawa switched fiefs and moved to the Kantō area in 1590, Kakegawa Castle was given by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to his retainer, Yamauchi Kazutoyo, who built up the castle and the town until he was given the domain of Tosa on the island of Shikoku following the battle of Sekigahara in 1600. Following the departure of the Yamauchi, various daimyo held the castle until it was given to the Ōta clan in 1746 who held it until the abolishment of the feudal system in 1872. The main keep that Yamanouchi Kazutoyo built was destroyed in an earthquake in 1604 and was rebuilt. However, another major quake rocked the region in 1854 and destroyed much of the castle, including the keep, which was not rebuilt. Following that quake, the daimyo at the time, Ōta Sukekatsu, rebuilt the wonderful ninomaru (second bailey) palace, which survives to this day. In 1994, using traditional methods and made of wood and stone (no concrete!).


This is a great castle and the ninomaru palace is just as equally fascinating. I highly recommend visiting this site if you are ever in western Shizuoka.


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

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Taken on August 10, 2010