Suibara-daikansho was established in 1746 by the bakufu. The first daikan (the official representing the Shogunate in charge of the fief) was the hatamoto Naitō Jūwemon. The exact territory under the administration of Suibara-daikansho varied, but was made up of a series of plots throughout Echigo amounting to between 60,000 and 100,000 koku in value. In addition to the regular mandate of such an institution in collecting taxes and tribute, and civil administration in general, the Suibara-daikansho had the special mission of developing the Fukushima-gata, a large lagoon, for rice cultivation. The lagoon still exists today but is probably much smaller than originally. This objective was likely the reason the Shogunate administered the territory in the first place; since rice was used as currency, the bakufu was sitting on a potential gold mine. In 1868 the territory was fought over by the loyalists and the imperialists during the Boshin War, and Suibara-daikansho was destroyed.
Suibara-jin’ya, commonly referred to as Suibara-daikansho, is a jin’ya site in Suibara, which is the main settlement and downtown of Agano Municipality. Daikansho were jin’ya ran by hatamoto, direct retainers of the Shogunate. Daikansho oversaw Shogunal fiefs which were scattered throughout Japan during the Edo period. Daikansho are therefore distinguished from daimyō jin’ya, which were either small scale castles used by minor daimyō, or used for governing sub-fiefs or exclaves of larger domains. On the sliding scale of what constitutes a castle, daikansho were much more on the administrative rather than war-readiness side, and were typically light on defences. This daikansho has been given the English name of ‘Suibara Magistrate Samurai Office’ in case that’s helpful.
Suibara-daikansho is special in that it was reconstructed in 1995! The rebuilt complex contains the main offices of the daikansho, and a gatehouse, the omotemon (front gate). There is also a wall around much of the premises, small pocket gardens, and an attached museum building. Models of the daikansho show that it had a prominent yagura (tower), but this has not been reconstructed. Visitors to the daikansho can learn about the day-to-day affairs of Shogunal officials. My favourite part was the room lined with white pebbles, used for interrogation and torture!
Suibara-daikansho has, it is thought, at least one original structure, a relocated gate now used at a large rural residence outside of Shibata. I also checked it out a couple of days after visiting Suibara, but my investigation was limited to a quick look from the roadside since it is now on private property.
|Tokugawa-bakufu (Naitō Jūwemon)
|No main keep but other buildings
|gates, palace, walls
|Suibara Sation on the Uetsu Main Line; 20 minute walk
|Open 9:30-16:00 Apr.-Nov.; 10:00-16:00 Dec.-Mar. (except Mon.); closed New Years; 300 yen
|Agano, Niigata Prefecture
|37° 50' 22.20" N, 139° 13' 51.28" E
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