Yonezawa Castle

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The first castle on this site dates back to 1238 when Nagai Tokihiro became lord of the Dewa region. The Nagai continued to rule for about 150 years until they were taken over by the Date. After Date Masamune defeated the Ashina in 1589, he moved his main castle to Kurokawa Castle and placed his son Date Munekiyo as castellan. Hideyoshi did not agree with this change and made Masamune move back to Yonezawa. In 1591, Hideyoshi ordered Masamune to Iwadeyama Castle and Yonezawa Castle was handed over to Gamo Ujisato. Uesugi Kagekatsu then became lord of the castle when Gamo's son was moved to Utsunomiya in 1597. After the Battle of Sekigahara in 1601, the Uesugi were stripped of most of their lands for except a small portion centered around Yonezawa from which they ruled until the Meiji Restoration.

Visit Notes

Apart from the moat there is nothing to give you the feeling of being at a castle. The main attraction is obviously the Uesugi Shrine. The Uesugi Museum was also quite nice. I picked up some good castle materials in the gift shop and pamphlets for Tateyama Castle (Yamagata) at the museum too.

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  • Main entrance
  • Water moat
  • Water moat
  • Moat and the Hishimon Bridge
  • Statue of Uesugi Kenshin
  • Moat
  • Moat
  • Moat
  • West entrance, not original
  • West entrance, not original
  • Kasuga Shrine
  • Moat
  • Hishimon Bridge
  • Uesugi Shrine
  • Uesugi Shrine
  • Uesugi Shrine
  • Embankment and foundation
  • Map

Castle Profile
English Name Yonezawa Castle
Japanese Name 米沢城
Alternate Names Uesugi-jinja, Maizuru-jo
Founder Nagai Tokihiro
Year Founded 1238
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Next 100 Castles
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features water moats
Visitor Information
Access Yonezawa Sta.; bus or 30 min walk
Visitor Information park, open anytime
Time Required 40 mins
Website http://yamagatakanko.com/spotdetail/?data id=2314
Location Yonezawa, Yamagata Prefecture
Coordinates 37° 54' 33.34" N, 140° 6' 16.74" E
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Added to Jcastle 2011
Admin Year Visited 2017
Admin Visits November 3, 2017

(4 votes)
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87 months ago
Score 0++

Yonezawajō is a hirajō (flatland castle) with tall dorui (earthen embankments) and mizubori (water moats). Today it is a major flower viewing spot and when I went the cherry blossoms were in full bloom and a festival was in full swing with events such as Taiko performances and Teppōjutsu (gunnery) demonstrations. The honmaru (main bailey) of the castle is now occupied by Uesugi-jinja. Next to the castle is the Uesugi Museum showing displays of the culture and daily life during the Sengoku Period. Teppōjutsu: I watched a teppōjutsu demonstration on the grounds of Yonezawa Castle. These matchlock arquebus rifles, popularly called Tanegashima, or Hinawajū (“matchlock”) in Japan, were used on the battlefields of Japan between 1543 and 1615. These impeccably dressed gunners demonstrated different types of Tanegashima from various positions: standing, seated, prone, each time yelling a kiai before firing. The explosive sound of the weapons, smell of the gunpowder, and the smoke and ash they spewed out for several meters was incredible. The recoil of the guns upon firing required their wielders to throw their arms up and back after each well-timed shot. Ninomaru: The Uesugi Memorial Hall was built in 1896 by Uesugi Mochinori, the 14th head of the Uesugi family, in the ninomaru (second bailey) of Yonezawa Castle. Called in Japanese alternatively Hakushakutei, Kakumeikan or Uesugi Kinenkan, it was rebuilt in 1925 after a fire in 1919, retaining the Meiji Period grand residential style. The Tombs of the Uesugi Clan and the Grave of Uesugi Kenshin:

The mausoleums of the lords of the Uesugi Clan are arranged in a row in a pine grove in Yonezawa. The tomb belonging to clan progenitor, Uesugi Kenshin, is located in the center, setback from his descendents. His remains are clad in the armour he wore in battle. The individual mausoleums contain a gorintō, a stone market in the shape of “five rings,” each a different shape representing one of the five elements. Beneath this gravestone is a covered vault in which are interred large earthenware pots with the remains of the deceased inside. Uesugi Kenshin was buried at Yonezawa Castle (after being moved from Aizu-Tsuruga Castle) but his remains were uncovered and moved here in 1876.

Anonymous user #1

155 months ago
Score 0++
Yonezawa castle doesn`t have so much castle but it has more than enough history to satisfy anyone. The museums and the Treasure Hall of the shrine are definitely worth seeing for what they have. Uesugi-Jinja isn`t quite as big or as good as Takeda-Jinja, their Uesugi Kenshin statue is a lot smaller than the Takeda at Kofu. They do however have a large new statue of Uesugi Kagekatsu and Naoe Kanetsugu. I don`t know about before Taiga Drama 2009 but post TenChiJin the town has turned into a samurai paradise. They were celebrating 400 years of Maeda Keiji when I was there and images of Keiji and Kanetsugu were everywhere. The mascot of Yonezawa is the dog with the distinguished eyebrows, Kanetan, who is a rival of sorts of Hikone`s Hikonyan. Yonezawa has a long history of transferring things from other places so you can also see Kasuga-yama Risen-ji and a reenactment of the Battle of Kawanakajima there. I loved Yonezawa.