The story of Utsunomiya Castle begins with a fortification built by Fujiwara Hidesato or Fujiwara Souen in the Heian Period around 1062. During the Kamakura Period the castle was under the control of the Utsunomiya Clan who continued to rule for another 500 years. During the Sengoku Period, Utsunomiya Castle was also caught in several battles around the area, including an attack by the Hojo that burned a large section of the castle town. it was during this period of warring states, that the castle became much more heavily fortified with high walls and a deep moat. The Utsunomiya were defeated by Hideyoshi and their lands including the castle were confiscated in 1597. During the Edo Period, Utsunomiya Castle was the home for several Tokugawa loyalists. In particular Honda Masazumi is responsible for renovating the castle and castle town providing the basic layout for modern day Utsunomiya. Utsunomiya Castle is named as one of the Seven Great Kanto Castles and is famous as the place where the shogun stayed when he visited Nikko. Most of Utsunomiya Castle was burned down during the Boshin war. The current reconstructions were completed in 2007.
While they've done a good job faithfully reconstructing a section of wall and 2 yagura, I was still a little disappointed in this site. The big glass elevator, metal railings and huge concrete tunnel all detract from giving it a historic feel. I understand the necessity of some of these for modern day reconstructions like this, but I think they could have done a better job disguising some of these necessities. I also really don't see the need for that huge concrete tunnel through the middle of the wall. Regardless, the height of these walls is really impressive. Utsunomiya Castle did not have a main keep, but the yagura atop these immense walls should have provided a field of view just as good as the large keeps of other Edo Period flatland castles. This reconstructed wall faces west so I had a hard time getting decent pictures in the morning with the sun behind the wall. I recommend visiting in the afternoon.
|English Name||Utsunomiya Castle|
|Founder||Fujiwara Hidesato or Fujiwara Souen|
|Castle Condition||No main keep but other buildings|
|Historical Period||Edo Period|
|Access||Utsunomiya Station (JR or Tobu sta.); 15min walk|
|Website||http://www.utsunomiya-jo.jp/tale in 1000/index.htm|
|Location||Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 33' 18", 139° 53' 6"|
|Visits||October 17, 2008|
|Added to Jcastle||2008|