Misaki Castle (Kuwana)

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KuwanaMisakijouChoujaYashiki (3).jpg


Kuwana-Misakijō began as a yakata (fortified manor hall) of the Yabe Clan, also known as the Yabe-kyokan or Yabe-yakata. The Yabe were one of the three clans - the others being the Itō and the Higuchi - that jointly governed the area of Kuwana in medieval times. The castles of these clans were known as the 'Three Castles of Kuwana', and the Itō Clan's castle of Higashinojō is considered to be the antecedent castle of Kuwanajō. The Yabe Clan's castle was called Misakijō ('Three Cape Castle'). Misakijō's lord was Yabe Umanojō, the father of Yabe Iesada, in the Sengoku period.

Misakijō later became the Taichi Bailey at Kuwana Castle in the Edo period, and so the moats are also a relic of Kuwanajō, though were possibly first excavated for Misakijō (which I was inclined to suppose given their width, narrower than other remaining moat segments around Kuwana, but I don't see them on old maps). Taichimaru is now a neighbourhood name in Kuwana, and was, given this name, an outer bailey of Kuwana Castle, though it was somewhat north of the castle proper, and perhaps formed part of the castle's expanded sōgamae (outermost wall) which encompassed the jōkamachi (castle-town). A notable map of Kuwana Castle from 1641 shows this area as undeveloped with only natural waterways. It appears to have been developed only in the mid' Edo period with the expansion of the jōkamachi. The site is bounded in the south by Kuwanajō's outermost moat.

In the mid' Edo period, Yamada Hikozaemon made this site on the outskirts of the Kuwana-jōkamachi his residence. Yamada was a so-called gōshō (wealthy merchant) and served Kuwana Domain in an official capacity as a go'yōtashi-shōnin, the merchant authorised to deliver goods to the daimyō, act as a mediator, and procure money. Yōtashi acted as official purveyors and it seems to have been the Japanese equivalent of companies with 'Royal' in their names, as in the Dutch and English traditions. Yamada Hikozaemon was, in a sense, part samurai, part merchant, but the old caste system was in anycase much more fluid than people generally think. The Suikoku-tei, a small teahouse in the garden, dates to the time of the Yamada.

Moroto Seiroku purchased the property in 1884 and built the residence we see today. The omoya (main residence), dating to 1889, has (in my opinion) the architecture of a late Edo period merchant's residence. The omotemon, a yakuimon, dates to 1904. The genkan (entrance parlour) and hiroma (banquet hall) date to 1891. The hiroma is also referred to as a goten (castellan's palace), though it was probably not intended as any sort of reconstruction. The garden beneath the hiroma is styled on that of the Honma Residence in Sakata (which I've also visited, though the garden there appears to be no longer extant).

Visit Notes

Moroto-teien is a garden and Meiji period villa site in Kuwana City. I didn't go looking for a castle site, but when I came here, having first gone to the neighbouring Rokkaen, I realised the site was surrounded by a moat! So I decided to investigate. It turns out, in short, that this area is the former Taichimaru of Kuwanajō, and should be properly understood as an extension of Kuwana Castle, but it was also the site of a medieval fortified manor hall belonging to the Yabe Clan called Misakijō.

Moroto Garden was built by Moroto Seiroku and his son; the latter also built Rokkaen which is next door. Moroto-teiein is only occassionally opened to the public, so I got lucky being able to enter. It is designated as a national historical site and contains several important cultural properties. There is an idyllic teahouse from the Edo period, and many other architectural treasures from the late 19th century and Meiji period.

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  • Moat and stone walls around residence site
  • Water moat and ishigaki, seen from Rokkaen
  • Waterway outside of property
  • Row of embankments outside property, probably built as wall for road
  • Edo period teahouse with thatched roof
  • Moat and stonewalls seen from Rokkaen
  • Goten Genkan
  • Hiroma / "Goten" (Banquet Hall)
  • Edo period map with site of Sengoku period Misaki Castle encircled
  • Teahouse in garden

Castle Profile
English Name Misaki Castle (Kuwana)
Japanese Name 桑名三崎城
Alternate Names Yabe-yakata / Yamadachōja-yashiki / Moroto-teien (矢部館・山田長者屋敷・諸戸庭園)
Founder Yabe Clan
Year Founded Medieval Era
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Designations has Important Cultural Properties
Historical Period Edo Period
Features water moats
Visitor Information
Access Kuwana Station; 15 minute walk
Visitor Information Public Openings Infrequent
Time Required 60 minutes
Website http://www.moroto.jp/english.html
Location Kuwana, Mie Prefecture
Coordinates 35° 4' 12.90" N, 136° 41' 30.30" E
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Added to Jcastle 2024
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
Friends of JCastle
Kojō no Rekishi

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