Mito Castle

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Mito10.jpg

History

Baba Sukemoto built the first castle on this site in 1214. It was called Baba Castle. The Baba continued to rule for about 200 years until they were conquered by the Edo. The Edo enlarged the castle and renamed it Mito Castle. In 1590, Satake Yoshinobu, a retainer of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, moved down from Oota and took over Mito Castle. He continued to rule until after the Battle of Sekigahara when he was moved to Kubota Castle in Akita Prefecture. At this point Tokugawa Ieyasu's fifth son, Takeda Nobuyoshi was made lord of Mito castle. The Tokugawa ruled over Mito Castle until the coming of the Meiji Restoration. All the castle buildings except a three story yagura and the yakuimon gate were destroyed during the Meiji Period. The yagura then burned down during WWII.


Visit Notes

There is very little left to give you the feeling of the castle except for some moats on the West end and the big yakuimon gate in the honmaru on the school grounds. The Kodokan school in the Sannomaru is not really a castle structure but it is an Important Cultural Property and a must see location if you're in Mito.




Gallery


Castle Profile
English Name Mito Castle
Japanese Name 水戸城
Alternate Names Baba-jo, Suifu-no-shiro
Founder Baba Sukemoto
Year Founded 1214
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Designations Top 100 Castles, Prefectural Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Features gates, trenches
Visitor Information
Access Mito Sta. (Joban Line), 8 min. walk
Visitor Information
Time Required
Website http://www.mitokoumon.com/shisetsu/siseki/mitojyouyakuimon.html
Location Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture
Coordinates 36° 22' 22.30" N, 140° 28' 58.08" E
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Admin
Added to Jcastle 2008
Admin Year Visited 2008
Admin Visits September 6, 2008


2.38
(8 votes)
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ARTShogun

17 months ago
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New stuff at Mito Castle! I revisited Mitojō to see the recently reconstructed Ôtemon (Main Gate), completed last month. There is also a second, smaller reconstructed gate, the Kitasaku Go'mon (North Paling Gate), part of the kuichigai-koguchi ("tiger's maw"), a masugata gate complex, along with several segments of restored dorui (earthen embankments). The Kitasaku Go'mon was used by Sensei accessing the Kōdōkan (which I'm translating as "Hall of Expanding Horizons"), which was the Mito-Hankō (Mito Domain School), basically a school for educating samurai youth (see my post on the Kōdōkan 弘道館 for more info'). The newly reconstructed Ôtemon is really, really awesome. It's so new and shiny! The type of gate is a yaguramon ("turret gate"), which is a gatehouse in the proper sense of having rooms above the gate itself. There is large (about three times my height) gate in the center, with a smaller doorway to the side. There is only a single layer of gates to the front and so need for murderholes as with Chinese or European barbican complexes. One side of the turret's supports (left when entering) are open, and the other has a ground floor room built into it, which is where, presumably, the staircase leading to the turret is, though this is not open to the public. To each side the gatehouse is supported by thick, pounded earth walls beautified with ceramic tile patterns, and with ceramic roofs. On one side a glass casement has been installed to show the original portions of this wall inside of the gate supports, since these were unearthed during reconstruction (a slight departure from the accuracy of the reconstruction but a welcome one). I'm really happy with the reconstructions at Mitojō. The site truly feels like a castle now. It's a nice demonstration of the benefits of reconstructing castle structures which aren't large towers. That said, authorities are apparently planning to reconstruct the castle's three-tier tenshu (main keep) in future, though the site of the tower is currently part of a schoolyard.

Moving on: showing the original Yakuimon gate and previously reconstructed gates. This area has many schools, and they have castle-style walls, so it's quite conducive to the atmosphere of a castle ruin. It was graduation day for highschool students but parents were obliged to wait outside due to Corona fears. I found some new things in the ninomaru (second bailey) too. A path leading around the Junior High School to a viewing area has been laid - there is a small gate at its entrance. Also there is a small exhibit hall called the Ninomaru Tenjikan (Second Bailey Exhibit Hall) located to the left once one has passed through the Ôtemon. This was actually the former site of a structure known as the Shōkōkan, a study hall where the Dainihonshi ("The History of Great Japan") was compiled, a major scholarly undertaking of the Mitogaku (Mito School) and the Domain.
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ARTShogun

17 months ago
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Added pictures of reconstructed gates, maps, models, and restored embankmnets. Updated my vote to a 3 ^ ^
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FurinkazanHatamoto

52 months ago
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After Tsuchiura i went to Mito. Exiting north of the station you'll find a nice statue of Mito Komon and several information panels about the castle and how to get there. Like stated below there are schools all over the place and like in Tsuchiura they are surrounded by walls giving a castle feeling. There are information boards all over the place in 4 languages. The big yakuimon(2 first photo's) is accessible to the public from 08h30 untill 16h30. When i arrived at the site of the Otemon i was happy to see that some work has begun to rebuild it. It is scheduled to be done for 09/09/2019. The Kôdôkan is a must see as the Kobuntei in the Kairakuen. This last is one of the 3 most beautiful gardens in Japan. Now i've done the 3😊! One let down was the history museum. Nothing in english and the 2 kabuto and the 1 armor are replicas.
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ARTShogun

57 months ago
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Part of a description I wrote about the Kodokan: The Mitogaku (Mito School) had immense importance in the creation of modern Japan and bringing about the Meiji Restoration, it was an ideological bulwark of Kokugaku (Nationalism) and Jukyō (Confucianism) erected against the defiling encroachment of the West. Mitogaku was the intellectual epicentre of the revolutionary Sonnō Jōi movement, which sought to overthrow the diminished Tokugawa regime and paved the way for the Meiji Restoration. This is Kōdōkan, the Mitogaku’s headquarters. Tokugawa Nariaki, 9th Lord of Mito-han, was a great reformer: though he wanted to reform all of Japan to be competitive with the West, his jurisdiction was limited to his province of Mito. He wanted Mito to lead the way in the transformation of the country (being one of the Tokugawa Go’sanke, three Tokugawa family clans, Mito was certainly in a position to do so). It was Nariaki who established Kōdōkan in 1840 as the Hankō (Clan School) of the Mito Domain. This is the building which stands today, and its creation catapulted Mitogaku thought to the forefront of revolutionary politics. The first head professor of Kōdōkan was Aizawa Seishisai, who coined the phrase “Sonnō Jōi” and also helped compile the Dainihon-shi (Great History of Japan). In 1825 he wrote Shinron (The New Thesis), which discussed the threat of Western ships to the Tokugawa regime. Aizawa expounded new concepts such as Kokutai (National Polity) and a national religion of Japan, to dispense with feudalism and transform Japan into a unified, centralised modern nation state. The Meiji government ended up adopting much of his Nativist ideas, developing them into an ideology of Shintō supremacy, imperial divinity, and Japanese national character extending back thousands of years. As per Aizawa’s policy, Meiji forces engineered the greatest schism in the history of Japanese religion, separating out Buddhism from indigenous polytheism and re-making Shintō as the State Religion, tearing at the country’s very soul in the march toward modernity. Indeed, some scholars trace the moral justifications for aggressive expansion of the Japanese Empire and, along the way, the corruption of Bushidō, all the way back to the Mitogaku. I hope I have impressed upon you the importance of this building of the Late Edo Period. Now I will explain about the school itself. It is said that Kōdōkan was the largest Hankō in Japan, owing to its intellectual reach and the size of the original site, although Kōdōkan as it remains today is the main hall (Seichō正庁 & Shizendō至善堂, connected structures), entrance gate (Seimon正門), school bell tower and walls; and two more buildings, the Confucian Temple and Hall of Eight Trigrams, have been restored, and are nearby (I didn’t see them because I immediately began exploring the Mito Castle ruins after touring the main site > < ). Hankō often possessed Confucian shrines, and I have explained before that this is because the dominant philosophy amongst Bushi was Confucianism, though few martial artists today, if any, honour Confucian customs. Students attended the school from the age of 15, and there was no official graduation age. Students studied astronomy, Confucianism, history, mathematics, music, medicine and the military arts. Medicine, military and literary departments had whole dedicated campuses. The astronomy class was held on an elevated tumuli at the edge of the school grounds. In the first picture, the cleared ground before the main hall you see was for hosting Kenjutsu practice and tournaments. Students also learnt how to wield spears, ride horses and conduct warfare in the arts wing.

When you go in the drawing room next to the genkan you see a hanging scroll, which reads “Sonjō” a contracted version of the slogan Sonnō Jōi (“Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarians”). However, I, a foreigner, was thankfully not asked to leave. This austere room was the Kōdōkan’s common room, and it also hosted guests to the school.
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ARTShogun

57 months ago
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The hill top area is now mostly used for school buildings and sports facilities. I appreciated that the school walls and sometimes school buildings themselves are designed with Edo Era flare to reflect their history of their location.
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RebolforcesAshigaru

103 months ago
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Super friendly lady in the gift shop. Gave me photo of hall from before the earthquake. Make sure you tell her where you are from so she can add a sticker to the visitors globe. Not much to see for castle fans though. All summed up in the photos here.
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RebolforcesAshigaru

103 months ago
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Get your 100 stamp (#14) from Kōdōkan hall. The Kōdōkan was damaged in earthquake 2011, repairs are in progress, but currently cannot enter the building.