Takashima Castle (高島城 Takashima-jō) is a flatland castle located in the city of Suwa, Nagano Prefecture. In the Edo period, the castle was the residence of the Suwa, who were lesser Fudai daimyō with an income of 30,000 koku. It used to be a water castle jutting out into Lake Suwa and was known as Suwa no Ukijiro (諏訪の浮城, "Suwa Floating Castle"). However, the reclamation of Lake Suwa at the beginning of the Edo period caused the lake to recede. Given its historical role, it is still considered one of Japan's three largest lake castles.

Takashima Castle (高島城)

History:


Takashima Castle had been the seat of the Suwa daimyō since the Middle Ages. The Suwa had initially been the head priests at the Suwa Grand Shrine and had significant influence as landowners. Back then, the castle was known as Chausuyama Castle (茶臼山城). In 1553, Takeda Shingen occupied the castle and gave it to his chief retainer Itagaki Nobukata (板垣信方). In 1548, Nobukata was killed in the Battle of Uedahara, and in the first month of 1549, Nagasaka Torafusa (長坂虎房) became Takashima Castle's castellan. According to historical records, the castle was renovated by ashigaru leader Yamamoto Kansuke (山本勘助). After Torafusa, the castle was controlled by Yoshida Nobuo (吉田信生) and Ichikawa Masafusa (市川昌房). When Masafusa was killed in the Battle of Nagashino on 21 May 1575, Imafuku Masakazu (今福昌和) took over. Takashima Castle became a Takeda base to control Suwa.

Takashima Castle (高島城)

After the demise of the Takeda in March 1582, the castle was destroyed by Oda Nobunaga's troops. Kai Province and Shinano Suwa County were taken over by Kawajiri Hidetaka (河尻秀隆), an Oda vassal, and Hidetaka's vassal Yumikage Shigezō (弓削重蔵) was placed in Suwa County. After the Honnoji Incident in June of the same year, Suwa Yoritada (諏訪頼忠), who took possession of Suwa County, built Kaneko Castle (in modern-day Nakasu, Suwa) and made it his new base, but in 1590 Yoritada was transferred to Naranashi in Musashi Province. Hineno Takayoshi (日根野 高吉, 1539-1600), a vassal of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, was installed as daimyō at the old Takashima Castle on Chausuyama.

Takashima Castle (高島城)

From 1592 to 1598, Takayoshi built a new castle in Takashima village on the shores of Lake Suwa at the current location. The villagers were evicted and relocated to Owada in exchange for privileges such as fishing rights and exemption from levying taxes. Takayoshi, who had witnessed castle construction under Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, built an ishigaki (石垣, stone wall) and raised a donjon. At the same time, he relocated the commercial and industrial workers from the Uehara Castle area and started construction of the castle town of Kaminosuwa-juku (上諏訪宿).

In 1601, the Hineno clan was transferred to the Mibu domain in Shimono-Kuni, and Suwa Yorimizu (諏訪 頼水, 1571-1641) regained the domain with 27,000 koku. The Suwa clan continued to rule the domain until the Meiji Restoration. In 1626, Tokugawa Ieyasu's sixth son, Matsudaira Tadateru, was placed under Yorimizu's custody. His son Yohikaira (吉明; 1587-1656) expanded the minamimaru (南の丸), the southern castle compound, which was used as a place of confinement for exiles such as Kira Yoshichika (吉良義周). Later, it was used to cultivate medicinal herbs and other plants. In 1786, the ishigaki were repaired.

Takashima Castle (高島城)

In 1871, the han (domain) system was abolished. Suwa became Takashima Prefecture, and the castle was used as the prefectural office; in 1875, most of the buildings, including the castle tower, were either demolished or moved, leaving only the stone walls and moat for a time; in 1876, it was opened to the public as Takashima Park. In 1900, Suwa Gokoku Shrine (諏訪護國神社) was constructed on the former castle grounds.

Takashima Castle (高島城)

The castle compound


The castle was initially built on a headland parallel to the shore of Lake Suwa so that the lake was used as a moat. Moreover, only the side facing the shore had to be protected by solid walls. From north to the south, the Ōtemon (大手門, main gate) was followed by Koromo no nami (衣之波曲輪 Koromo-no-nami kuruwa), a bridge leading to san no maru, then another bridge the ni no maru, which surrounded the honmaru on three sides. Then, during the Edo period, sedimentation increased so that by the 1850s, fields stretched along the castle's western side.

Takashima Castle (高島城)

Today, the castle, of which only the honmaru remains, lies in the centre of Suwa. The area was transformed into Takashima Park (高島公園). The ni no maru (二の丸) and san no maru (三の丸) have been turned into housing estates, and in 1970 the castle tower, turrets, gates and walls in the honmaru (本丸) were restored. The moats on the north and eastern sides were preserved. In 1970, the castle tower and its yagura were rebuilt. The roof of the castle tower was initially covered with shingles, which were replaced by copper sheets. The former keep was a freestanding tower with three layers and five floors, which can be seen in a photograph taken in the early Meiji period. The first storey had a large gabled roof with a two-storey watchtower on top, gabled bay windows on the east and west sides of the second storey and gabled bay windows with hipped gable windows on the south and north sides of the third storey, as well as exterior gable fenestration on the east and west sides. The roof was not tiled but thatched with thin cypress shingles. The current reconstruction of the keep differs in the size and position of the windows and other details, and the roof is covered with copper shingles; the interior is used as a museum. It was built of reinforced concrete. The avenue leading to the castle still exists. Only the original maple trees have been replaced by Japanese elm. On 6 April 2017, it was included in the Continuing 100 Great Castles of Japan (#130).

Takashima Castle (高島城)


Takashima Castle (高島城)


Takashima Castle (高島城)


Takashima Castle (高島城)


Takashima Castle (高島城)


Takashima Castle (高島城)


Takashima Castle (高島城)


Takashima Castle (高島城)


Historical depictions of Takashima Castle in ukiyo-e


Keisai Eisen, Sixty-nine Stations of Kisokaido Shiojiri (渓斎英泉 木曾街道六拾九次 塩尻)

Keisai Eisen, Sixty-nine Stations of Kisokaido Shiojiri (渓斎英泉 木曾街道六拾九次 塩尻)

Katsushika Hokusai, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji Lake Suwa, Shinshū (葛飾北斎 富嶽三十六景 信州諏訪湖)

Katsushika Hokusai, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji Lake Suwa, Shinshū (葛飾北斎 富嶽三十六景 信州諏訪湖)

Link:


(in Japanese; English PDF available)


Address: 1-20-1 Takashima, Suwa, Nagano 392-0022; phone: 0266-53-1173.

Admission: free; Takashima Castle Museum, open daily 09:00-17:30 (1 October - 31 March, 09:00-16:30), adults 300 JPY, children 150 JPY. Closed on the second Thursday in November and from 26 - 31 December.

Access: by JR Chūō Line, a ten-minute walk from Kamisuwa Station from the Suwa-ko Exit; by car via Expressway a fifteen-minute drive from the Suwa exit on the Chūō Expressway
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