Akashi Castle

From Jcastle.info

Akashi3b.jpg

History

Ogasawara Tadazane (former lord of Matsumoto), moved into the area in 1617. In 1619, under the orders of Tokugawa Hidetada he built Akashi Castle in just one year for the purposes of watching over the Western lords and building up the Tokugawa defenses in the region. He accomplished building this castle in so little time mainly because he used materials from castles in the area that were decomissioned under the one castle per country law of 1615, mainly Fushimi Castle and nearby Funage Castle. The castle deftly makes use of the natural terrain in a 3 tiered castle compound. Ogasawara's father-in-law Honda Tadamasa, who also directed the construction of Himeji Castle, assisted with the construction of Akashi castle. Even though they build a large foundation for a large main keep, no main keep was ever built. In its place the honmaru had 4 large 3 story yagura, two of which are still standing today. Eventually, Ogasawara Tadazane was moved to Kokura Castle and the lordship of Akashi Castle changed hands several times until it was taken over by Matsudaira Naoakira in 1682. The Matsudaira continued to rule until the of the Meiji Restoration.


Visit Notes

Currently the 2 yagura are open during different times of the year, the Tatsumi Yagura from March Through May and Hitsujisaru Yagura from September to November. They are only open on weekends and holidays and will cancel for light rain. In the past each was open during alternating months during the same seasons so if you wish to go be sure to check the website (and weather!) and plan accordingly. When I visited the Tatsumi Yagura, I was there when it first opened at 10am but it had started raining and by the time I left they were taking down the signs and packing up. Supposedly this is to protect the interior of the yagura or they will have to close the windows. Only the first floor is open. The guide said someone was once injured falling from these steep steps so they stopped showing the second floor. The guide also said there is a special tour of both including the second floor if you buy a tour through the Furusato Nozei system but I was unable to any such thing today. (May 2024)

https://www.yokoso-akashi.jp/facility/2684

Most of the original stone walls of the castle are well preserved but the weeds and trees growing out and around them are horrible. They really need to do some more work to keep them free of plants or the walls will be damaged. They cut some trees around the "front" side of the castle to make the walls and yagura more clearly visible but the growth from the walls needs to be maintained better. Around the back side is especially atrocious. Reviewing my 2009 photos it was much better back then. One of the paths is so choked with vegetation it's now blocked off. It seems the huge castle park in front of the castle is constantly having events, lightups, project mapping, etc so one would think they could collect some fees or at least do a better job collecting donations to help pay for the maintenance before it's too late.

For your visit to Akashi Castle, don't forget to take some photos from the train station platform too!


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Gallery
  • Hitsujisaru Yagura
  • Tatsumi Yagura
  • Oda Residence Gate


More Galleries and Feature Pages

Akashihitsuji2.jpg

Hitsujisaru Yagura

(2 photos)

Akashi202.jpg

Tatsumi Yagura

(7 photos)

Akashi101.jpg

Gesshoji Temple

(4 photos)

Akashikokuin6.jpg

Kokuin Collection

(14 photos)

Castle Profile
English Name Akashi Castle
Japanese Name 明石城
Alternate Names Kishun-jo
Founder Ogasawara Tadazane
Year Founded 1619
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Designations Top 100 Castles, has Important Cultural Properties, National Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Artifacts Tatsumi Yagura, Hitsujisaru Yagura
Features gates, turrets, water moats, stone walls, walls
Visitor Information
Access Akashi Sta (San'yo Line), 5 min walk
Visitor Information Park is open any time, see notes for special exhibits.
Time Required 60 mins
Website http://www.hyogo-park.or.jp/akashi/contents/sisetsu/map01 2.html
Location Akashi, Hyogo Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 39' 8.32" N, 134° 59' 30.70" E
Loading map...
Admin
Added to Jcastle 2007
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 2009, 2024
Admin Visits November 14, 2009; May 19, 2024
Friends of JCastle
Shiro Meguri Fan
Kojodan
Japan Castle Explorer
Shirobito


2.95
(21 votes)
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EricShogun

9 months ago
Score 1++
Trying to plan for some Autumn castle trips it seems that the 2 yagura are open at different times of the year. the Hitsujisaru in the fall (Sept-Nov) and Tatsumi in the Spring (March-May). I have been to the Hitsujisaru Yagura so I guess I'll wait until March to revisit this one. Details below: https://www....acility/2684
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Matthew WardGunshi

14 months ago
Score 1++

I visited Akashi Castle for the second time today, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The Tatsumi Yagura was open and I got to go inside, though as noted before, only the first level is open to the public. Still, it was not surprisingly pretty authentic inside, and had some good views of the rest of the castle.

I think I was most impressed by the stone walls--there were more than I remembered, especially in the main front area of the castle, where the turrets are, along with some good foundations of the (never built) main keep and other turrets that are no longer there. And I got to do some wandering around the north and east sides of the castle, where there is more stonework, often in a more ruined state.

I also visited the Nagayamon Gate, which is a nice little structure, but seemed a bit forlorn across the road. Since apparently it has been moved anyway, I wonder if it couldn't be moved to the castle grounds. Amusingly, after I visited it, I went across the street to walk along the moat, and my hat blew into the moat! Luckily, the wind blew it to the side of the moat, so I was able to retrieve it. First time that has ever happened to me.

All in all, this is an excellent little castle, and the turrets are well-preserved and as big as the main keeps of castles like Marugame and Bichu-Matsuyama. But it does have a bit of an odd sense of looking like the facade of a castle, rather than a complete castle. I wonder whether they couldn't pull off an authentic reconstruction of the other 2 big turrets that once were there, plus a few gates. It's already a very good castle, but seems that it could be a great one with a bit of the work that's gone into places like Kanazawa Castle and Ozu Castle.
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EricShogun

14 months ago
Score 0++
In this case, the gate was at this location as the gate to a samurai home (bukeyashiki). It is thought to have been moved here from another castle, Funage Castle. All in all, this is one castle I should probably revisit and update this profile accordingly. I think they have cleared a lot of trees around the stone walls making them easier to see since 2009 as well.
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ARTShogun

76 months ago
Score 1++
I went through Akashi Station recently and they've cleared away some of the clutter on the platform and around the station exit in front of the moat so the area is cleaner now and there is a better view of the castle from the station without obstructing overhead cables. I took some lovely pictures from the platform whilst waiting for my connecting train.
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ARTShogun

88 months ago
Score 1++
I have been here many times, because I lived just outside of Akashi for a year as an exchange student. After several years I came back armed with a lot more castle know-how and my camera. I made a thorough inspection of Akashijō, not just the two Edo Period yagura (turrets) for which it is known, but also its many baileys and ishigaki. It really is an expansive site and I was there for a couple of hours until it became too dark to continue exploring the park. The Ishigaki here are really fantastic. The yagura were closed but I had been inside one of them when I lived here and remembered it well. Finally after these interceding years I feel like I have explored this castle completely. Akashijō has many stone walls, a moat, many baileys, and surviving historical buildings, so it is a great site. Opposite the castle entrance is also a relocated historical Nagayamon (Row House Gate).
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Anonymous user #1

91 months ago
Score 0++
I actually only saw this castle from the train (not shinkansen) passing by. The first time I was squashed against the door window a while past sunset, the train was packed full, and the turrets were lighted up bright and were very clear even in the dark. The second time I was going the other way, towards Kobe, it still looked very white and much longer in the daylight. Taking the express is actually a pretty good way to do some, well, express sightseeing of Kobe. You can easily see Akashi Castle, Akashi-Kaikyo (on clear days), Kobe Tower, Mt.Rokko and the ropeway, the Tetsujin Statue, etc.
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Kiddus i2003Gunshi

125 months ago
Score 0++
The little castle that should be. I wish that this could be restored as the area that is park now would look great with a castle behind those great walls.
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RaymondWDaimyo

148 months ago
Score 0++
I finally feel that I have done Akashi Castle properly after four visits. It was third time lucky last month before I was able to get inside one of the original yaguras (turrets). Tatsumi Yagura is open to the public on weekends in April, June, and October. I had to come back today to get inside Hitsujisaru Yagura, which is open to the public on weekends in March, May, September, and November. The volunteers who work there told us the other months are either too cold or hot to keep the turrets open. Given they sit outside the turrets, that is completely understandable. Inside the Hitsujisaru Yagura is a model of Akashi Castle and its surrounding castle town during the Edo Period. From the front as seen from JR Akashi Station, both Tatsumi Yagura and Hitsujisaru Yagura look roughly about the same size, but Hitsujisaru Yagura is actually a little larger and wider if seen from its north-south profile. It is roughly 1.5 times wider according to the volunteer guide at the Tatsumi Yagura last month. The volunteer guide today at the Hitsujisaru Yagura told us that Akashi Castle originally had 20 yaguras with four three-storey yaguras. According to one of the castle books that I have, some of these yaguras were built with materials taken from other castles such Funage Castle (Tatsumi Yagura), Fushimi Castle (Hitsujisaru Yagura), Takasago Castle, and Edayoshi Castle. There is also a Yakuimon-style gate from Fushimi Castle, which was first relocated to Akashi Castle before it was moved to Geshouji Temple in 1874. Having been inside both the original yaguras now, which are simple mini-museums with exhibits of original tiles (in the Hitsujisaru Yagura), explanations about the history of the castle (in both yaguras), and some replica castle maps, this castle site certainly deserves a solid 3.5 stars. If the upper floors of the yaguras were open to the public and there was an English pamphlet available (for purchase), then this could be bumped up to a four star site. Yes, from the train station, it does not look that special, but it does have lots of impressive stone walls, moats, and two original yaguras. Both the yaguras are constructed mainly from pine, and the volunteer guides are friendly and knowledgeable.
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RebolforcesAshigaru

160 months ago
Score 0++
Park ok, close to station. More of a facade than a castle.
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FurinkazanDaimyo

166 months ago
Score 0++

Two days ago i went to this castle. The turrets are nice and indeed the walls are impressive. Sadly the weather was very bad, so i couldn't appreciate to the fullest the site. I think with beautiful weather i would have stayed longer in the parc, which is very nice for a stroll. I appreciated the pontoon they have built behind the wall. It gives you almost the position of a shooter over the wall(such devices were installed at some castles during sieges, that's why some of the firing holes are very low. The men below had to kneel for firing their weapons).

It is very difficult to take a nice picture from the JR station. There are some electric cables hanging in between.
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KyushudanPeasant

177 months ago
Score 0++
Unfortunately, both turrets were well shut. I'll be doing some research before my next trip here, that's for sure.
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Jcastle.oldHatamoto

177 months ago
Score 0++
No, only Hitsujisaru was open and the upstairs was roped off too. Was it open when you were there?
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KyushudanPeasant

177 months ago
Score 0++

This is definitely one of my favourite castles. And in my opinion, as good as Marugame & Uwajima castles put together.

Great pics.

Were you free to go to the top of the Hitsujisaru turret? And, was the other turret open too?
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RaymondWDaimyo

181 months ago
Score 0++
I often pass this castle on my way to other castles like Himeji Castle and Okayama Castle. However, I finally decided to drop in and suss it out yesterday. It's a pretty decent castle to visit. There is no castle keep, but in lieu of that there are two original three-storey towers to see. The stone base of the castle keep is located very close to the Hitsujisaru Yagura. Both the yaguras were not open to the public when I was there, so I could not see the inside. There are plenty of stone walls, ponds, and a water moat left, but there are no surviving gates or other buildings within the castle grounds. Access to Akashi Castle is very easy. It is just opposite the JR Akashi Station. Like many lesser known castles in Japan, this place is fairly free of tourists. Entry is free.