Ako Castle

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History

When Asano Naganao was transferred here in 1648 he was instructed by the Tokugawa government to build a new castle. Originally the ocean would have come close to the southern boundaries of the castle providing direct access to the sea. The vast castle had 10 corner turrets, 12 gates and the length of the outer baileys is nearly 3km long. There is a main keep foundation at Ako Castle but the main keep was never built because the Tokugawa Bakufu never granted permission to do so. Ako Castle was dismantled in 1873.

Visit Notes

Ako Castle was much more vast than I had imagined. I'm actually quite surprised that so much good land was not developed over the years. Some of the remains have been rebuilt but the fact that they had the land or could acquire it is very impressive. There are ongoing plans to rebuild more of the castle. I was not able to visit the museum this time and the gates for the samurai homes were not open so I will definitely visit again some time to see those and whatever they rebuild next.

Whether the castle was a strong and defensible castle or not may be open for debate. Having been to many Edo Period castles I feel the moats are too narrow and walls too short to be of much defensive use. On the other hand, the Otemon and Honmaru Gates are well designed formidable gates and the many corner turrets with good angles for flanking fire are certainly well planned, but I'm not sure about the rest. I once heard someone once describe this as a "50,000 koku daimyo trying to build a 500,000 koku castle." Regardless, it is still a beautiful and photogenic castle. There are many stone walls and moats and different landscapes to photograph. You'll see some complete castle structures and some in ruins. I spent over 3 hours here early in the morning but could have easily spent more. I would like to have taken some more photographs of the Honmaru and Ninomaru Gardens which are also designated as National Scenic Locations. I love these cold December mornings with bright blue skies for photographs even if there are some long shadows to compete with.

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Gallery


Castle Profile
English Name Ako Castle
Japanese Name 赤穂城
Alternate Names Kariya-jo
Founder Asano Naganao
Year Founded 1648
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Designations Top 100 Castles, National Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Features gates, turrets, bridges, samurai homes, water moats, stone walls, walls
Visitor Information
Access Banshuako Sta. (Ako Line); 15 min walk
Visitor Information gardens open 9;00-16:30; closed Dec. 28 - Jan. 4
Time Required 180 mins
Website http://www.ako-hyg.ed.jp/bunkazai/akojo/
Location Ako, Hyogo Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 44' 46.07" N, 134° 23' 19.28" E
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Admin
Year Visited 2018
Contributor Eric
Visits December 21, 2018
Added to Jcastle 2009


3.37
(19 votes)
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DiegoDeManilaAshigaru

28 months ago
Score 1++

Visited 20 Nov 2016. I actually have a rather negative view of the 47 Rōnin and their (perhaps undeservedly) glorified vendetta, but my long-standing interest and research into the Akō Incident was enough to detour me towards the former domain of their ill-fated lord. My sceptical views regarding the rōnin aside, I was genuinely impressed by the castle that they once called home. The profusion of angled lines of defence and projecting fortifications was interesting to see, as was the carefully laid out elevated platform outlining the footprint of the former goten. As the previous poster observed, it's great that they've incorporated the excavated remains of inner courtyards and gardens into the raised footprint, making it easier for one to imagine the form and function of the compound when it was still intact. The never-used base for the never-built tenshu was also a sight to behold, and offered great views of the honmaru enclosure. I'd really love to return at some point, both to explore the castle more thoroughly and also to prowl about town in pursuit of other Akō Incident-related sites.

https://with...vember-2016/
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EricShogun

10 months ago
Score 0++
I think we have a similar view of the 47 ronin and the whole silly story, but it is a fun castle to visit :)
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SuupaahiirooAshigaru

35 months ago
Score 1++

This is a very nice and quiet castle site. There are many reconstructed stone walls and gates. From the stone base where the tenshukaku once stood one can enjoy a good view of the honmaru. There is a large stone platform which shows where the palace once stood and which parts served which purpose. I found this a nice addition: it shows the scale and the location of the inner gardens a bit clearer than a simple outline on the ground.

Personal highlight for me was the reconstructed yet excellent ninomaru-teien, a Japanese style garden with ponds and pavilions. I'm wondering if they have any plans of expanding this garden, because one of the maps showed a larger area than there actually was. There were also some construction fences, but these seemed to not have been moved in at least a couple of years.
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FurinkazanHatamoto

103 months ago
Score 0++
I visited this site today. It is a very nice place to be during sakura-time. The park is surrounded by a lot of ishigaki and they are still reconstructing some parts of it. It's easy accessible. From the south-exit of Banshu-Ako station it's straight ahead. There aren't alot of buildings, but they made some kind of elevated map in the honmaru, where the palace once stood. The Oishi-jinja, related to the 47 ronin, stands inside the ishigaki.
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A22cricketAshigaru

115 months ago
Score 0++
Went here for the 47 Ronin Festival on Dec. 14th every year. Definitely the best time to go! Castle has been filmed numerous times for movies about the 47 Ronin.
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Jcastle.oldHatamoto

115 months ago
Score 0++
Yes, this is partially correct. The one castle per country law forced all lords to build and maintain a castle in their domain which ate up funds and resources that they may have put to military uses.
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Anonymous user #1

115 months ago
Score 0++
I've noticed that many of the castles in the other buildings category were built after the senguku period, during the reign of the tokugawa shogunate. I suppose the tokugawa were trying to limit the power of the feudal daimyos
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RaymondWHatamoto

116 months ago
Score 0++
I went to this castle in early March. It has been around two years since my last visit. More walls have been reconstructed. The local government is quite serious about restoring this castle with current building work focusing on fully reconstructing the Ninomaru Gardens. With work in progress, a visitor to the Ninomaru (Second Bailey) area can see a clear cross-section of how ishigaki (a Japanese stone wall) is constructed. It wasn’t the best day for taking piccies, but it was nice to walk around this quiet castle ruin. Thank goodness I finished my visit before two busloads of tourists arrived at the site.