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Castle Yodo Castle

This article is in the series Walking the Japanese Castles
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Yodo Castle (淀城 Yodo-jō) was a Japanese castle located in Yodo, Kuze District, Yamashiro Province (now Yodo Honmachi, Fushimi-ku, Kyōto ). Today, only the stone walls and part of the moat of the main castle remain. During the Edo period, the castle was occupied by the Matsudaira, the Toda, the Inaba and other feudal clans.


Rulers of Yodo Castle:

  • 1625-1633: a branch of the Hisamatsu-Matsudaira (久松松平家) with 35,000 koku
  • 1633-1669: a branch of the Nagai clan (永井氏) with 100,000 koku
  • 1669-1711: a branch of the Ishikawa (石川氏) with 60,000 koku
  • 1711-1717: a branch of the Toda (戸田氏) with 60,000 koku
  • 1717-1725: a branch of the Ogyū-Matsudaira (大給松平家) with 60,000 koku
  • 1725-1871: a branch of the Inaba (稲葉氏) with 102,000 koku


Yodo Castle was a water castle built in Yodo, at the confluence of the Katsura, Uji and Kizu Rivers. The topographical map shows that the confluence of the three rivers has now been moved to the south-west, but it is still easy to imagine that it was a key point for water and land transport between Kyoto and Osaka.


Based on the Aerial Photograph Service of the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan. The location of the enclosures is estimated.

A map of the period on the castle's information board depicts a robust water castle built at the confluence of three rivers.


In 1613, the second Tokugawa shōgun, Hidetada, ordered a castle to be built along the Yodo River at the time he had Fushimi Castle demolished. This was not far from where Princess Yodo (淀殿 Yodo-dono,1569-1615), Toyotomi Hideyoshi's wife, once had a castle on a tributary of Yodo River. Building material from Fushimi Castle was used for the construction, and it was even planned to relocate the castle tower. Eventually, however, four watchtowers were constructed, one at each corner of the stone base that had already been built, thus creating a castle ensemble similar to that of Himeji Castle. The construction was completed in 1625. The following year, in 1626, Hidetada and Iemitsu used this castle on their way to Kyōto. Matsudaira Sadatsuna (松平定綱, 1592-1652) was the first lord to settle at Yodo Castle. The last daimyō clan was a branch of the Inaba; they remained lords of the castle until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

The castle complex

The castle was built on a flat island. Surrounded by the Ujigawa (宇治川) and Katsuragawa (桂川), it was described as a "floating castle" (浮城 ukijiro). The castle consisted of an inner bailey, the honmaru (本丸) with a castle tower (天守 tenshu) ensemble, which was adjoined to the north by the second enclosure, the ni-no-maru (二の丸). To the west was the western compound (西曲輪 Nishi-kuruwa), and to the east was the third enclosure, the san-no-maru (三の丸), and the eastern compound (東曲輪 Higashi-kuruwa). When, in the Battle of Toba-Fushimi in 1868, the shogunal troops retreated south to seek shelter in the castle, the castle lords, the Inaba, though formally fudai daimyō , refused the donjon has been preserved. The moats were filled, except for a part in the west and south of the honmaru, as were the water canals. Today, Shikinai Yodo Shrine (式内與杼神社 Shikinaiyodo-jinja) is located on the castle grounds. Originally a Buddhist temple, it was converted into a shrine after 1868 as part of the separation of Buddhism and Shintoism (Shinbutsu-Bunri).

Visiting the castle

After visiting Fushimi Castle, we took Keihan Railway and got off at Yodo Station. Walking along the tracks towards Osaka, we soon arrived at Yodo Shrine and the adjacent Yodo Castle Ruins Park.

The castle tower (天守台)

The castle tower is located at the southeast corner of the main castle. There used to be a five-storeyed castle tower, which was moved from Nijo Castle, but it was destroyed by lightning in 1756.


View from the castle tower over the ruins of the main castle. The park, 100 metres on each side, is a jumble of play equipment and shrines.



Ruins of the southwest corner turret. The moat behind survived.


Northwest Corner


Ruins of the waterwheel (水車跡)
There were two waterwheels, one in the south-west and the other in the north-west of the castle, to transport water from Yodo River to the moat. The famous waterwheel was eight metres in diameter. The site of the northern waterwheel is located in the northwest of the park, across the old Keihan National Road.


After a quick tour of the relatively modest castle ruins, we were approached by an old local man. He showed us several interesting things.

First of all, there is an old well next to the castle tower; the lid is closed, but if you drop a pebble through the gap, you can hear the splashing sound of water after a while.


Next to the old well, there is a water stone embedded in the root of a tree, which shows that it is a very old stone.


Next, in the stone wall of the castle tower, there is an inscription of the Shimazu family crest. They must have been involved in the construction of the castle.


The old gentleman told us that when mother was a young woman, she dived into the moat in front of the castle tower and found a small gold coin on the bottom of the moat.

Whether true or not, his story was a funny anecdote.


Finally, I prayed at the Inari shrine in the castle, as I was advised by him that it would do some good. Well, it was good enough to hear the gentleman's stories.

Date of visit: 30 December 2013


  • Address: 167 Yodohonmachi, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, 613-0903
  • Access: 5-minute walk from Yodo Station on the Keihan Main Line
    3 km from Oyamazaki Interchange on Meishin Expressway via Route 171
  • Parking: No park parking, use coin parking near Yodo station.
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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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〒613-0903 京都府京都市伏見区淀本町167

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