Zeze Castle

From Jcastle.info

Zeze7.jpg

History

After the Battle of Sekigahara, Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered a new castle to be built in Zeze. This castle was designed by Todo Takatora. In its construction, some building materials were taken from the dismantled Otsu Castle. Zeze Castle had a four storey castle keep, a rarity in Japan as the number four is considered to be unlucky. The castle ruin site protrudes into Lake Biwa and is considered to be one of the top three lakeside castles (along with Takashima Castle in Nagano, and Matsue Castle in Shimane) in Japan. The Honmaru (Main Bailey) and Ninomaru (Second Bailey) of the castle were like islands floating in the lake, and it was also called Sekiroku (Stone Deer) Castle. In May 1662, this castle was badly damaged by an earthquake. The original castle keep was severely damaged, and some of the Honmaru and Ninomaru turrets including their bases collapsed and sunk into the lake. The Honmaru and Ninomaru were repaired, and the baileys were merged into a new Honmaru, the current site of Zeze Park. The former Sannomaru (Third Bailey) became the Ninomaru and a new Sannomaru was created.

The first lord of the castle was Toda Kazuaki in 1601 followed by Toda Ujikane, Honda Yasutoshi, Honda Toshitsugu, Suganuma Sadayoshi, Ishikawa Tadafusa, and Ishikawa Noriyuki. In 1651, Honda Toshitsugu took over again and until the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Honda Clan ruled the castle. In 1870, the castle was demolished and many of its gates were sold to nearby shrines and temples. In 膳所城と藩政, a book published by the Otsu City Museum of History in 2018, it lists 11 relocated structures from Zeze Castle and its castle town. Most of these original gates and buildings have been specifically identified while a couple remain as a generic castle gate or building from Zeze Castle. Below is the list of the 11 relocated structures, their original names (if identified) and relocated locations in brackets.

• The gate between the Honmaru and Ninomaru 二の丸と本丸の間の門 (Zeze Shrine’s Main Gate 膳所神社表門) • Honmaru’s Dobashi Gate 本丸土橋の門 (Zeze Shrine’s North Gate 膳所神社北門) • The North Oote Gate 北大手門 (Shinozu Shrine’s Main Gate 篠津神社表門) • The South Oote Gate 南大手門 (Muchizaki Shrine’s Main Gate 鞭崎神社表門) • Honmaru’s Inubashiri Gate 本丸の犬走門 (Wakamiya Shrine’s Main Gate 若宮八幡神社表門) • Honmaru’s Black Gate 本丸黒門 (Goryo Shrine’s Main Shrine’s Side Gate 御 霊 神社 本殿脇門) • Yet-to-be-identified Zeze Castle gate (Chikatsuo Shrine’s Main Gate近津尾神社表門) • Ninomaru’s Water Gate 二の丸水門 (Shingu Shrine’s gate 新宮神社参道横の門) • The Two-Storey Turret on the eastern side of the Honmaru 本丸東正面の二 重 櫓 (芭蕉会館 in Chausuyama Park茶臼山公園) • A castle storehouse 城内の蔵 (Rittai Jizo Shrine 六体地蔵堂) • Setaguchi Main Gate 瀬田口総門 (relocated to a private residence in Izumiotsu City, Osaka Prefecture)


Visit Notes

Visiting Zeze Castle Ruin can be a deceptively underwhelming experience, and this is completely true if a castle fan just strolls around the public park where Zeze Castle’s honmaru or main bailey had once stood. There is little vestige of Zeze Castle at the park apart from a reconstructed gate and some stone wall remnants, some of which are modern reconstructions. Much of what was Zeze Castle has been built over and subsumed by modern day Zeze. However, if you are willing to spend time walking around Zeze, Ishiyama, and Kusatsu, there are 10 relocated gates and buildings from Zeze Castle to be seen. In addition to these relocated structures recognized by Otsu City, there are three more possible relocated gates, one in Ritto, another one in Kusatsu, and a third one at Zeze Shrine.

If you are done tracking down relocated Zeze Castle gates and buildings, there are three nagayamons (長屋門) from former samurai residences in the castle town. They have been moved to three different temples along the former Tokaido Road in Zeze. Furthermore, at Enshin Temple, one can see the tombs of Toda Kazuaki, the first lord of Zeze Castle and Honda Toshitsugu, the fourth and then again, the eighth lord of Zeze Castle.

At Zeze Castle Park, in recent years, a new sign with a map has been installed at the site of where the castle keep had once stood. The map is a bird’s eye view of Zeze Castle. It is a copy of an old map created in 1894. While the map on the new sign is informative, the castle model of Zeze Castle at the Otsu City Museum of History raises it to another level. It is an amazingly detailed model of Zeze Castle and the castle town, bringing the castle and its town “back to life” for castle fans to experience. Looking at this model one can see why Zeze Castle was rated as one of the Top Three Lakeside Castles in Japan. Unfortunately, for copyright reasons, I am unable to upload any photos of it.

In sum, there are eleven relocated structures, two possible relocated structures, three nagayamons, two tombs of Zeze Castle lords, and a brilliant model of Zeze Castle that castle fans can check out if they want to do more than just briefly visit Zeze Castle Park.

Most of the relocated gates and buildings are within walking distance from the JR stations, Ishiyama and Minami-Kusatsu and Keihan stations, Kawaragahama and Zeze-Honmachi. Otsu City Museum of History is a 5-to-6-minute walk from Keihan Otsu Shiyakushomae Station.

If you just walk around Zeze Castle Park, my rating is still half a star, but if you spend hours tracking down all the structures listed here and visit the Otsu City Museum of History, the total Zeze Castle experience gets bumped up to 2 stars.

The original (2012) and revised castle profile (2022) are by RaymondW.


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Gallery
  • Honmaru stone walls
  • Honmaru Stone Walls
  • Honmaru Gate
  • Zeze Castle ruins
  • water moat
  • honmaru west wall
  • main keep ruins
  • Yagura moved to Chausuyama Park
  • Replica gate
  • The North Oote Gate (Shinozu Shrine Main Gate)
  • The North Oote Gate (Shinozu Shrine Main Gate)
  • Zeze Castle gate between the Honmaru and Ninomaru (Zeze Shrine's Main Gate)
  • Honmaru Dobashi Gate (Zeze Shrine's North Gate)
  • Honmaru's Inubashiri Gate (Wakamiya Hachiman Shrine's Main Gate)
  • Honmaru's Inubashiri Gate (Wakamiya Hachiman Shrine's Main Gate)
  • South Ohtemon (relocated to Muchisaki Shrine)
  • The South Oote Gate (Muchizaki Shrine’s Main Gate)
  • Honda Clan's Kamon (family crest) on former South Oote Gate
  • Honmaru’s Black Gate (Goryo Shrine’s Main Shrine’s Side Gate)
  • Ninomaru’s Water Gate (Shingu Shrine’s gate)
  • Honda kamons on the Ninomaru Water Gate
  • Zeze Castle gate (Chikatsuo Shrine’s Main Gate)
  • Zeze Castle gate's Honda kamons (Chikatsuo Shrine’s Main Gate)
  • Zeze Castle Storehouse (Rittai Jizo Shrine)
  • Zeze Castle Storehouse's interior (Rittai Jizo Shrine)
  • Zeze Castle Storehouse's Honda kamons (Rittai Jizo Shrine)
  • Nagayamon (Daiyo Temple)
  • Honda kamon on nagayamon (Daiyo Temple)
  • Nagayamon (Keigan Temple)
  • Nagayamon (Kyonin Temple)
  • Possible relocated Zeze Castle gate (Zeze Shrine's South Gate)
  • Possible relocated Zeze Castle gate (Zeze Shrine's South Gate)
  • Honda kamon on Zeze Shrine's South Gate
  • Possible relocated Zeze Castle gate (Oka, Ritto)
  • Honda kamon on possible relocated gate (Oka, Ritto)
  • Possible relocated Zeze Castle gate (Ten Shrine)
  • Sign at Ten Shrine
  • New map at the Honmaru
  • Enshin Temple Gate
  • Tomb of Toda Kazuaki, first lord of Zeze Castle (Enshin Temple)
  • Tomb of Honda Toshitsugu, 4th and again 8th lord of Zeze Castle
  • Otsu City Museum of History


Castle Profile
English Name Zeze Castle
Japanese Name 膳所城
Alternate Names Sekiroku Castle
Founder Toda Kazuaki
Year Founded 1601
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Designations has Important Cultural Properties
Historical Period Edo Period
Artifacts Shinozu Shrine Omote Gate, Zeze Shrine Omote Gate
Features gates, turrets, trenches, stone walls, walls
Visitor Information
Access JR Ishiyama Station then transfer to Keihan Zeze-Honmachi Station, 5 min walk
Visitor Information No fees
Time Required 30 minutes for castle ruins and 5+ hours for visiting original structures scattered around Zeze, Ishiyama, and Kusatsu
Website http://www.biwako-visitors.jp/search/spot.php?id=802
Location Otsu, Shiga Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 59' 42.97" N, 135° 53' 43.26" E
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Admin
Added to Jcastle 2012
Contributor RaymondW
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
Admin Visits Viewer Donated


1.80
(5 votes)
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avatar

RaymondWHatamoto

one month ago
Score 0++

In an article published in the Journal of The Japanese Institute of Landscape Architecture in 1997, Zeze Shrine’s South Gate is listed as a relocated gate from Zeze Castle. It looks like it has been restored in recent years as the wood and tiles look a little too new. However, since Otsu City has not listed it as one of the relocated Zeze Castle structures, I have classified it as a possible relocated gate. It does have lots of Honda family crests, albeit they look quite new.

The koraimon-style gate at Oka, Ritto, has quite a few Honda kamons on it, and it is definitely an old and weather-beaten gate. On a sign there, it says that it was the first gate to a masugata-style gate at Zeze Castle. On some Japanese castle websites, this gate is mentioned as being from Zeze Castle. However, Otsu City has not listed this gate as a relocated Zeze Castle gate, so I have classified it here as a possible relocated gate.

The gate at Ten Shrine is a bit more dubious. Almost all of the relocated gates and buildings from Zeze Castle have some Honda kamons on their roof tiles. The only exception is the Honmaru Black Gate at Goryo Shrine. However, Otsu City has listed this gate as one of the relocated Zeze castle structures in a book, on its website, and in a display at the Otsu City Museum of History, so it is possible that not all relocated Zeze Castle structures have Honda kamons on them. Only one Japanese castle website has mentioned this could be a Zeze Castle gate. Otsu City has not put this gate on its list of Zeze Castle relocated structures, so I have classified it here as a possible relocated gate.

If anyone comes across something more definitive about these three gates or any of the other Zeze Castle gates and buildings, please post a comment about them. It is possible the status of these possible extant gates could change in the future when more evidence / historical documents are uncovered about Zeze Castle.
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ARTShogun

one month ago
Score 0++

I see I actually jumped the gun with my initial comment and that you weren't quite finished. Thank you so much for your research and editing in putting all these together. Your initial comment on the Yokosuka profile reminded me that I was meant to add to this profile after my visits with RonS, but I would've held off if I knew you were going to do such a thorough job of it! Thanks again; it's really cool to see them all on the map. Looks like I'll have to go back to see 'em all! I edited the description for the Muchisaki Shrine gate. As for permission, feel free to add any information to any of my photos on this site. It's a collaborative effort and I trust your judgement ^0^

They got rid of a bansho? That's such a shame >.<
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ARTShogun

one month ago
Score 0++
wow, great update! I wonder if Zeze Castle breaks the record for number of extant relocated structures then? Up there with Fushimi Castle? The relocated turret at Chausuyama is in a bad way, but maybe it can be restore one day at Zeze Park.
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RaymondWHatamoto

one month ago
Score 0++

Glad you now like the update, ART. It’s all done now with a few more additional photos. I think Fushimi Castle is still the top dog in terms of both the variety and quantity of relocated structures. I haven’t visited the relocated Zeze Castle yagura since 2012. Perhaps, I will go to Chausuyama Park and check it out sometime in the next few weeks. I doubt if Otsu City will move the yagura back to Zeze Castle Park.

There was an original guardhouse next to the site of the Setaguchi Gate into the former castle town, but unfortunately it was demolished to make way for a carpark back in 2006.
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RaymondWHatamoto

one month ago
Score 0++
@ART. Thanks for adding map coordinates to my 2012 photos. I haven't changed the information for the photo of the Muchizaki Shrine's Main Gate that you have uploaded by renaming and identifying it as the Zeze Castle's South Ootemon. I've only changed the numbering from your high number to a lower number, so I have space to add my photos. When it comes to editing any written text, I don't change what other people have written without their permission.
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ARTShogun

one month ago
Score 0++
Added relocated gate at Muchisaki Shrine. Added co-ordinates to old photos and new.
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RaymondWHatamoto

31 months ago
Score 1++
ART, thanks for the info about one more of Zeze Castle's extant gates at Muchisaki Hachimangu(鞭崎神社). It's a well preserved Koraimon-style gate. This shrine is only a few hundred metres from Kusatsu General Hospital and around a 25-minute walk from Minami-Kusatsu Station. The shrine is located near the end of the former Yabase Road(矢橋道). If you walk a few hundred metres more along the former Yabase Road, a branch road from the Nakasendo, to the shore of Lake Biwa, you will come to the site of the former Yabase Port(矢橋港). There are two ishigaki jetties there as well as a sign about the history of this small port. For those who don't like walking, you can catch the bus going to the Aeon Mall from Minami-Kusatsu Station, getting off at the Kusatsu General Hospital.
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ARTShogun

33 months ago
Score 1++
Ron and I went back here and avenged ourselves on Zezejou by visiting all of the relocated structures. I'll add it here later but there's also the relocated Minami Ohtemon gate at Muchisaki Hachimanguu. The Yagura at Chausuyama is in a bad way. It has mutated shachihoko on it.
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ARTShogun

69 months ago
Score 1++
There is a whole cabal of imitation architecture surrounding this site. Unfortunately there are no exhibits at the castle shaped bunka center, just office space. I tried to see all the scattered about structures but i gave up and watched star wars instead.
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ARTShogun

70 months ago
Score 1++
I haven't been there but nearby there is also the Biwako Culture Center which is shaped like a castle. I don't think I'd come here otherwise but I think it'll be worth it now with the Bunkakan to help get my castle fix, but whilst I'm a fan of castle impersonation architecture, I know it makes others sad and angry, so it's not for everyone.
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RaymondWHatamoto

125 months ago
Score 0++
The local council workers have just cut the grass and cleared the weeds at Zeze Castle Ruin, so everything is tidier than in the photos shown. Also, I have been to this castle ruin a number of times, and the best time to go is during the cherry blossoms.