Okazaki Castle

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Okazaki45.jpg

History

Saigo Tsugiyori built the original fortification on this site in 1455. Matsudaira Kiyoyasu captured the castle in 1524 and his famous grandson Matsudaira Motoyasu (Tokugawa Ieyasu) was born here on December 16, 1542. Ieyasu succeeded to lord of the castle in 1560 and left his eldest son Nobuyasu in charge when he moved to Hamamatsu Castle in 1570. The castle was left to the Tanaka clan when the Tokugawa moved to Edo (Tokyo) in 1590. The Tanaka worked to expand the castle and build out the castle town. When the Okazaki Domain was established the loyal retainer Honda Yasushige was made lord of the Okazaki Domain. The domain changed hands a few times during the Edo Period and was abolished in 1873.


Visit Notes

It was more than 20 years since I revisited this castle and I'm glad I finally did. I had seriously underestimated how great of a site it is based on only visiting the main keep and being unable to take any good pictures of it the first time I went. The stonework around this castle is amazing. This was a bit of a rushed trip after visiting Asuke Castle and on the way back to Tokyo, so I would actually like to visit again and spend more time exploring the castle and checking out the stone walls. There is the castle museum inside the main keep and then another Tokugawa museum on the site. I probably spent too much time in the first Tokugawa museum and had to cut short the rest of the castle exploring and the main keep museum. Plan for plenty of time when you visit or prioritize each area accordingly.


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Castle Profile
English Name Okazaki Castle
Japanese Name 岡崎城
Alternate Names Ryu-jo
Founder Saigo Tsugiyori
Year Founded 1455
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition Reconstructed main keep
Designations Top 100 Castles
Historical Period Edo Period
Main Keep Structure 3 levels, 5 stories
Year Reconstructed 1959 (concrete)
Features main keep, stone walls
Visitor Information
Access HIgashi Okazaki Station (Meitetsu Line), 15 minute walk
Visitor Information Open 9am-5pm; closed 12/29-12/31; 200 yen for main keep museum, 510 for both museums
Time Required 150 mins
Website https://okazaki-kanko.jp/okazaki-park/feature/okazakijo/top
Location Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 57' 22.50" N, 137° 9' 31.39" E
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Admin
Added to Jcastle 1999
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 1996, 2019
Admin Visits March 1996; August 4, 2019
Friends of JCastle
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Kojodan - Okazaki Castle
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Japanese Castle Explorer - Okazaki Castle


3.22
(18 votes)
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RaymondWDaimyo

5 months ago
Score 0++

Eric is in his visit notes is absolutely right about how much ishigaki is at this castle. I went to Okazaki Castle twice, in 2008 and 2011. In the past, I have always visited Okazaki Castle in conjunction with at least one other castle on a trip to Aichi, so I hadn’t checked out this castle’s grounds comprehensively. However, for my recent visit, I decided to focus only on Okazaki Castle, spending over 4 hours walking around the whole castle site.

In my past visits, I had completely underappreciated the extent of the ishigaki (stone walls) and earthworks at Okazaki Castle. There are a lot more stone walls to be seen than if a castle fan just makes a beeline for the reconstructed concrete keep or the museum in the Ninomaru (Second Bailey.) As 2023 is the year of the NHK Taiga drama featuring Tokugawa Ieyasu, the museum in the Ninomaru when I visited the castle was swamped by Taiga drama fans attending the special Ieyasu exhibition. With a long queue of people waiting to get into this museum, I opted to skip it and used the “time saved” to spend more time walking around the castle grounds.

Back to the ishigaki, apart from Eric’s stone wall photos shown here, the local authorities are working on restoring the ishigaki along the Oto River. These stone walls appear to the casual observer to be somewhat low at around 2 metres, but there is another 3 metres of ishigaki buried, so the actual height of the ishigaki fronting the Oto River is 5 metres. There are kokuins (stonemason’s seal) on some of the stones denoting which lord contributed to the building of the walls, and I was lucky enough spot one. Other sections of ishigaki around the castle that impressed me include the base of the Tatsumi Yagura, the Uzumimon Kitasode ishigaki, and the stone walls that lined the Seikai Moat.

Another thing that I didn’t know about on my previous trips to this castle was that the big open ground overlooked by the Higashi Sumi Yagura (East Corner Watchtower) actually had a continuation of the moat which protects the Furotani Bailey and Inkyo Bailey. Before it was filled in, the wet moat also extended as far as the Sugou Bailey. In excavations in 2000, a dobashi (earthen bridge) reinforced with ishigaki (stone walls) was discovered. After the archaeological investigation was done, it was buried again to preserve it and now lies under that flat field.

The Higashi Sumi Yagura, reconstructed in wood, is worth a visit as it has lots of information panels with maps and photos (in Japanese only) about archaeological investigations at various spots around the castle.

Okazaki Castle, like some other castles in eastern Japan, had several umadashi, which functioned like a barbican for European castles, incorporated in their design. All of them have been built over or removed since the beginning of the early Meiji Period. There was a crescent-shaped umadashi which protected the outer entry to the Sakitani Gate. Part of the Sakitani Gate ishigaki still remains. At the entrance into the parking area for the tourist coaches near the reconstructed Otemon (Main Gate) is where another umadashi had once stood, in a location sitting astride the modern Route 1 which runs past the castle. The third umadashi was located further east protecting the entry into Bizen Bailey. Both the third umabashi and Bizen Bailey have been completely subsumed by modern day Okazaki City.

You can take photos with the flash off inside the museum located in the castle keep now. In the past, there was a ban on photography in the museum. Entry is only 300yen, and there is an excellent model of what the castle looked like in the late Edo Period. For me, this is the highlight of all the exhibits inside this museum.

For castle fans, I highly recommend that you take your time and leisurely enjoy what this castle has to offer rather than rushing off to visit another castle on the same day as I did in the past.
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ARTShogun

5 months ago
Score 1++
Update: photography is now allowed in the keep museum : )
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EricShogun

5 months ago
Score 0++
nice change. I wonder why they did that.
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ARTShogun

71 months ago
Score 2++
Castle keeps sometimes don’t contain the best exhibitions within even though they mostly function as museums, because their main draw relies on spectacle, but Okazakijō is different. It has a glorious collection of models and artefacts. Unfortunately these collections are jealously guarded and pictures are prohibited within the museum. There is also a separate museum dedicated to the life and times of Tokugawa Ieyasu in the castle park. Period players perform martial arts shows in front of here and I talked with one such lady performer, performing as Komatsu-hime (the ladies always win so they’re worth cheering for). There is small traditionally inspired clock tower in the park. On the hour a karakuri ningyō (originally Edo-era wooden robot) emerged and performed Noh theatre.
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Kiddus i2003Gunshi

106 months ago
Score 0++
Excellent park and the main entrance was very impressive, liked the castle immensely.
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FurinkazanDaimyo

119 months ago
Score 0++
Today i visited 4 sites, of which one isn't yet on this site. I began with this one. The park is beautiful but sadly they didn't try to cover the concrete in the tenshu. The artifacts are very interesting, but as already stated you may not take pictures inside. The Ieyasu and Mikawa bushi museum retraces the life of Ieyasu. The important phases of his life are translated in english, but everything else is in japanese. There is a nice recreation model of the battle of Sekigahara. To the exit you are able to put an armor on with the helmet of Honda Tadakatsu. It takes no time, because the staff put it on you and it's free of charge. If you are in the vicinity, i recommend to go to this site.
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Anonymous user #1

146 months ago
Score 0++
Visited this castle as part of a weekend trip to Nagoya. Nice little castle with interesting grounds to walk around, worth the visit.
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Frank T.Gunshi

150 months ago
Score 0++
How is it that the admin rating for this castle is two stars? Granted, it's a reconstruction, but the park is nice, the keep is not a small one, and the site is of some historical importance. Everyone, not only castle fans, can enjoy a visit here.
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RaymondWDaimyo

151 months ago
Score 0++
I rushed my first visit to this castle three years ago, so I decided on a re-visit yesterday and actually walked around it a bit more leisurely. I got round to see more of the moats and ishigaki on the north side of the castle ground which I missed last time. There is a free English pamphlet available on request. You can only take photos on the top floor of the castle. The other parts of the castle museum have “no photo” signs all over. A 44-page book in Japanese with colour photos of some of the displays in the museum as well as the history of the castle is available for 600yen. The interior of the castle could have been done better with wooden panelling to hide all the concrete. Still, the museum was pretty good.