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Todo Takatora hailed from Todo Village in Omi Province (present-day Shiga Prefecture). Beginning his military journey as a humble ashigaru foot soldier, he ascended to the esteemed rank of daimyo, displaying remarkable flexibility by changing allegiances seven times and serving under ten different warlords.

Standing at an impressive height of 190cm, Todo Takatora towered over his contemporaries in an era when the average height ranged from 160 to 170cm. Beyond his prowess on the battlefield, Takatora demonstrated aptitude in administration and harbored a deep interest in culture, literature, Noh theater, and the tea ceremony. His enduring legacy in castle design and architecture remains unparalleled in samurai history.

Born in 1556 to Todo Torataka, a samurai in the service of the Azai clan of Omi, Takatora's military journey commenced with his participation in the Battle of Anegawa in 1570, fighting under Isono Kazumasa against Oda Nobunaga. Subsequently, he served under Nobunaga himself before becoming the Chief Retainer of Hashiba Hidenaga, half-brother of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and engaging in campaigns against the Mori clan in the Chugoku Region.

He continued his military endeavors, participating in the Battle of Shizugatake in 1583 and later contributing to Hideyoshi’s Kyushu Campaign. His invaluable assistance in pacifying Kyushu led to a significant increase in his revenues, raising them to 30,000 koku.

During Hideyoshi’s Korean Campaigns, Todo Takatora demonstrated his prowess in both land and sea operations, earning him the prestigious 80,000 koku fief of Osu in Iyo Province in 1594. While stationed in Korea, he constructed Suncheon Castle, which remains the sole surviving Japanese castle in the southwestern districts of the peninsula.

Renowned for his architectural skills, Todo Takatora played a pivotal role in the construction of Jurakudai, Hideyoshi’s opulent palace in Kyoto. In 1598, prior to Hideyoshi’s passing, Takatora shifted his allegiance to Tokugawa Ieyasu. His allegiance proved instrumental in the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, where he commanded 2,500 men, resulting in a substantial increase in his stipend to 200,000 koku at Iyo.

In 1608, Todo Takatora was transferred to Ise Province, where his stipend was further augmented to 333,950 koku. Assigned with the task of reconstructing Iga Ueno Castle in preparation for Ieyasu’s impending assault on the Toyotomi stronghold in Osaka, Takatora faced a setback when a severe typhoon demolished the unfinished keep, resulting in casualties. Urged by Ieyasu to prioritize other sections of the castle in light of the impending conflict, Takatora redirected resources accordingly.

Takatora played a pivotal role in the Siege of Osaka, Summer Campaign, achieving a significant victory at the Battle of Yao by defeating Chosokabe Morichika. Tragically, his two sons, Takanori and Ujikatsu, lost their lives in the heat of battle.

Highly esteemed by Tokugawa Ieyasu, Takatora remained a steadfast companion and trusted advisor during the retired shogun’s final years. Following Ieyasu's passing, Takatora continued his service under the shoguns Hidetada and Iemitsu. Under Iemitsu's reign, he oversaw the construction of the Nikko Toshogu Shrine in honor of Ieyasu's legacy.

In 1620, Takatora took charge of the extensive reconstruction of Osaka Castle, a project completed just a year before his passing in Edo at the age of 74 in 1630. His architectural prowess extended beyond Osaka Castle, as he was also involved in the renovations of nearby Takatsuki Castle, Amasaki Castle, and Akashi Castle.

Renowned for his innovative architectural techniques, Takatora revolutionized castle construction by introducing the cost-effective Sotogata type tenshu keeps, which were quicker and more economical to build compared to the traditional Borogata style. His castles were distinguished by their imposing walls, notably exemplified by the formidable defenses of Iga Ueno Castle. Additionally, he refined the Masugata type gate systems, enhancing the defensive capabilities of the castles he designed.

 


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