Garyuzan Castle


GaryuuzanjouA (1).jpg


Garyūzanjō is a rare example of a fortified temple built in the Edo period. Although many temples were fortified and turned into castles in the Sengoku period - think Ishiyama-Honganji - most of these monastic fortresses were either destroyed or decommissioned by the Edo period. Gyōkiji, the temple on Mount Garyū, however, was renovated and fortified by Matsudaira Yoshiyuki between 1702 and 1705. Essentially it was a way to add to local defences under the guise of a major temple renovation. Lord Yoshiyuki became the first lord of Takasu Domain, a sub-domain of Owari Domain, in 1700, and Gyōkiji was made into the clan temple. It also served a defensive function as a sort of hidden fortress for Takasu Domain to be used in times of emergency. Commoners were forbidden from visiting the temple-castle-mount for the rest of the Edo period.

Visit Notes

Gyōkiji, on Mount Garyū in Nannō Township, Kaizu Municipality, is a temple with the bearing of a castle. It is said, in fact, to be a secret fortress dating to the start of the 18th century. There is a complex of buildings with the aspect of a goten (castellan's palace), including the Ôshoin and Koshoin drawing rooms, surrounded by beautiful cloister-style gardens, dating to 1705. The hondō (main hall) dates to 1832, and the sanmon (main gate) dates to 1820. I wonder if these later constructions, more important for religious purposes, weren't due to the temple's defensive role having gradually diminished after a century. A cenotaph for the Takasu-Matsudaira Clan can also be found within the temple precincts.

  • Tall stone walls at the temple

Castle Profile
English Name Garyuzan Castle
Japanese Name 臥龍山城
Alternate Names Gyōkijijō (行基寺城)
Founder Matsudaira Yoshiyuki
Year Founded 1702
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Historical Period Edo Period
Features palace, stone walls
Visitor Information
Access Mino-Yamazaki Station on the Yōrō Railway; 40 minute walk
Visitor Information 9:00-16:00 Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun
Time Required 60 minutes
Location Kaizu, Gifu Prefecture
Coordinates 35° 12' 20.02" N, 136° 36' 27.90" E
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Added to Jcastle 2024
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
Friends of JCastle
Takajirō no Nihon Zenkoku Shiro Meguri

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