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Japanese castles are must-see monuments when visiting Japan. Contemplating them will make you appreciate the originality and complexity of each one of them and be able to know the history of the Japanese country. Unlike European castles, Japanese castles were not built to be used as dwellings, but were mostly fortifications.

History

The history of Japanese castle dates back to the Yayoi period (10th century BC). The Japanese began to build moats to protect themselves from animals. When conflicts between people began, they built the walls. We can see a reconstruction of these settlements in the Yoshinogari ruins, located in Saga prefecture.

In 66, after the Japanese defeat by the Tang dynasty at the Battle of Hakusukinoe, several fortifications began to be built on the coast and in the mountains. From the 12th century, the lords and vassals of the shogunate began to develop their activity around the castles. During the Sengoku period (late 15th and 16th centuries), the vassals or lords of the Shogun lived in their houses at the foot of the mountain in times of peace. In times of war, they shut themselves up in their castles, usually located at the top of the mountain. At this time the towns called Jokamachi (“village at the foot of the castle”) appeared, built to supply the castles.

Firearms were introduced to Japan in 1543, changing the way of warfare forever. In 1576, Oda Nobunaga had the Azuchi-jo Castle built, considered the first modern castle in Japanese history. These castles were no longer solely defensive structures, but became the residences of the lords and centers of economic and political activity. For this reason, they stopped being located in the mountains. Modern castles were raised as a symbol of stately power, thus the stone walls and the Tenshu tower being characteristic of these. After the …continue reading