The Nakazaki family descended from nobushi (provincial samurai) who were active in the Sengoku period. In the Edo period the Nakazaki served as Shōya (village magistrates) under Mito Domain. They were at once jizamurai (country samurai) and high status farmers, straddling the blurry lines between the samurai and farmer castes. Japan's proto-modern caste system, after all, was not nearly as strictly delineated or rigid as most people have been led to believe. Nakazaki-yashiki was built in 1688 and retains its original architecture, making it a precious treasure. The Nakazaki Residence is also known as the Horinōchi-yashiki because it is built within the ruins of Koibuchijō, but the two sites are not directly related and are treated as separate sites. Nonetheless, it seems that Nakazaki-yashiki retained these earthworks throughout the Edo period, and most of the remains of the castle have only been lost to residential development in more recent times.
Nakazaki-yashiki's main hall is an important cultural property dating to 1688. This was my first time to visit a jizamurai residence. Jizamurai were provincial gentry, samurai warriors who also engaged in farming. Jizamurai are typically considered below samurai in the socio-economic ranking. In the Edo period samurai lived in jōkamachi (castle towns) and their income was dependent upon service to their lord; whilst they may have grown vegetables in their gardens, including by employing the help of peasants, they could not make a living farming. Jizamurai lived away from castles in the countryside and had a much more agrarian lifestyle. The Nakazaki Residence happens to be located right next to a castle, Koibuchijō, but it was already a ruin by the time this home was built in 1688. In its day the house was part of Mito Domain, headquartered from Mitojō. Inside I noticed that instead of a section of earthen floor like in most kominka (folk homes), the kitchen area had wooden floorboards around the hearth as well as in the general living area. The rest of the house where the bedrooms are was not open and has had glass installed around the veranda and may still be lived in, or at least was until recently. The owner of the home lives in an adjacent house, a modern dwelling made of vertical clapboard siding which is very typical in Japan and of the Shōwa Period. He was out talking to workmen in the lane when we arrived and he kindly invited us to look inside the house. With wooden beams, earthen walls, and a thatched roof, the Nakazaki Residence, despite the convenience of glass separating the veranda from the outside, is a very well preserved dwelling. It is surrounded by farmland and preserved alongside a kura (traditional storehouse) used by the Nakazaki family.
|English Name||Nakazaki Yashiki|
|Castle Type||Fortified Manor|
|Castle Condition||No main keep but other buildings|
|Designations||has Important Cultural Properties|
|Historical Period||Edo Period|
|Access||Uchihara Station on the Joban Line|
|Visitor Information||Access Limited|
|Time Required||30 minutes|
|Location||Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 20' 58.42" N, 140° 22' 20.57" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2022|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|
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