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Castle Tanaka Castle (Shizuoka)

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Tanaka Castle (田中城 Tanaka-jō) was a flatland castle (平城 hirajiro) located in Fujieda, Shizuoka Prefecture. The castle is famous for its unparalleled concentric circle-shaped structure, rare in Japan.

Tanaka Castle (田中城), Shizuoka

As seen on the map below, the castle was surrounded by circular segments separated by four moats (Honmarubori, Ninobori, Sannobori and the outer moat). Traces of this structure can still be seen today in the circular moat or on the road that reclaimed the moat.

Tanaka Castle (田中城), Shizuoka

Tanaka Castle (田中城), Shizuoka

Aerial photographs taken from Geographical Survey Institute maps. The location of the enclosures is estimated.

The predecessor of Tanaka Castle was Tokuisshiki Castle (徳一色城), built in 1537 by the Isshiki clan, a powerful local clan and vassals of the Imagawa clan. After Takeda Shingen invaded Sunpu in 1568, the local clans did not surrender to Shingen. Hasegawa Masanaga (長谷川正長), an ancestor of Hasegawa Heizo Nobuyoshi, aka 'Onihei' (鬼平), was holed up in Tokuisshiki Castle and continued to resist until 1570 when the castle was finally taken by Takeda's vassal Yamagata Masakage (山県昌景).

After the capture, Shingen renovated the castle and renamed it, Tanaka Castle. The influence of the Takeda style of castle construction can be seen in the crescent-shaped moats. The castle was considered an important cornerstone of the fortified network in the western part of Suruga against the Tokugawa clan in Mikawa. In 1582, during the conquest of Kōshū, the castle was attacked by the Tokugawa forces. Still, the castle commander, Yoda Nobushige (依田信蕃), steadfastly resisted and defended the castle until the death of his lord, Takeda Katsuyori. After that, Anayama Baisetsu (穴山梅雪), who had defected from the Takeda family, persuaded the defenders to surrender. Kōriki Kiyonaga (高力清長, 1530-1608), a retainer of the Tokugawa, entered the castle.

After Tokugawa Ieyasu moved to the Kantō region in 1590, Tanaka Castle came under the control of Nakamura Kazutada (中村一忠), lord of Sunpu Castle. In 1601, Sakai Tadatoshi (酒井忠利) took over, expanded the castle, and incorporated Fujieda-juku into the castle town. Tadatoshi moved to Kawagoe in 1609, and Tanaka Castle was ruled after that by Tokugawa Yorinobu and Tokugawa Ieyasu, both based in Sunpu. In January 1616, Tokugawa Ieyasu stopped by Tanaka Castle on his way to hawk hunting and ate sea bream tempura served by Shirojiro Chaya. Some historians believe that this meal caused Ieyasu's death.

After 1633, the Matsudaira, Mizuno, Hōjō and other clans administrated the castle, and in 1730, Honda Masanori (本多正矩) was given the domain with 40,000 koku, which his family held until the Meiji Restoration . The domain lord changed hands several times, but after Honda Masanori entered the castle in 1730 (Kyoho 15), the Honda clan continued to serve as lord until the Meiji Restoration. In 1868, the last Tanaka lord, Honda Masanaru (本多正訥), was transferred to the Awa Nagao domain. The castle became the domain of the main branch of the Tokugawa family, which was transferred to Suruga Province, and Takahashi Deishū (高橋泥舟, 1835-1903) was placed in charge of the castle. Tanaka Castle was later abandoned.

We took the bus from Nishi-Yaizu Station and got off in front of Nishimashizu Elementary School.

① Honmaru (本丸)

Nishimashizu Primary School is located at the site of the former honmaru. The photograph at the beginning of this page shows a model of the castle made by the pupils in the schoolyard.

Tanaka Castle (田中城), Shizuoka

For the time being, I will go around the circular castle ruins, centring on Honmaru.

② Shinjuku Ninomitsugubori (新宿二之三日月堀)

There used to be six crescent moats (馬出し曲輪 umadashi kuruwa) in Tanaka Castle, but only Shinjuku Ninomitsugubori survived, and it is half the size.

Tanaka Castle (田中城), Shizuoka

③ Sannobori Earthen Wall Ruins (三之堀土塁跡)

In a residential area, for some reason, only this earthwork remains.

Tanaka Castle (田中城), Shizuoka

④ Ote Ninomon (大手二之門)

The north entrance, the moat's remains and the reconstructed bridge remain around the central second gate.

Tanaka Castle (田中城), Shizuoka

Not many remains of what once stood here, but information boards showing former buildings stand everywhere.

Tanaka Castle (田中城), Shizuoka

⑤ Sannobori west side (三之堀 (西側))

Part of the Sannobori (moat) of the area just to the west of the palace remains. Outside this area was the samurai residence.

Tanaka Castle (田中城), Shizuoka

⑥ Samurai Yashiki Ishigaki (侍屋敷石垣)

The stone wall of the samurai residence remains in front of the site of Sannobori.

Tanaka Castle (田中城), Shizuoka

In addition, the area has moats and roads that indicate that it was once of circular shape.

Tanaka Castle (田中城), Shizuoka

Tanaka Castle (田中城), Shizuoka

I revisited for the first time in 8 years to see the shimoyashiki I missed on my first visit.

⑦ Shimoyashiki (下屋敷)

The castellan's residence in the late Edo period was located in the southeast corner of the castle. Earthworks remain in the garden.

Tanaka Castle (田中城), Shizuoka

The turret that was originally situated in the honmaru was relocated to a corner of the castle ground.

Tanaka Castle (田中城), Shizuoka

Date of visit: 17 February 2014, 3 April 2022


  • Address: 1-7-20 Tanaka, Fujieda, Shizuoka 426-0012
  • Access: a 25-minute walk from Nishi-Yaizu Station on the JR Tokaidō Main Line or by bus in front of Nishi-Masuzu Elementary School
    Four kilometres from Tomei Expressway Yaizu Interchange via Prefectural Route 81
  • Parking: Yashiki parking lot (free: 'P' on the map above
Next article in the series 'Walking the Japanese Castles': Ishiwaki Castle
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Hiroto Uehara
Hiroto is an ordinary Japanese office worker, but his true mission is searching for castles on the weekend.


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Hiroto Uehara
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〒426-0012 静岡県藤枝市田中1丁目7−20

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