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Sadowara Castle in Miyazaki Prefecture was a mountaintop yamajiro castle, initially built by the Tajima clan during the Nanboku-Cho period (1334-1394). As was typical of castles from that era, Mt. Kakusho, the chosen mountain, was terraced to create various baileys, or kuruwa. While defensive structures were constructed at the top and around the mountain, the lord's main living quarters and administrative offices were situated at the mountain's base.

Around 1427, the powerful Ito clan of Miyazaki Prefecture seized Sadowara Castle from the Tajima clan. The Ito clan occupied the castle until 1537, when a fire severely damaged it, prompting them to relocate to Miyazaki Castle for five years while repairs were undertaken. In 1568, the Ito clan returned to Sadowara, making it their primary stronghold. However, the castle changed hands several times thereafter: the Otomo clan took control in 1577, only to lose it to the Shimazu clan in 1579. After the death of Lord Shimazu Iehisa, his successor Shimazu Toyohisa fell at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, and Sadowara Castle became Tokugawa property. Despite their former opposition to the Tokugawa, Toyohisa's cousin was appointed castellan in 1693.

The castle underwent significant expansion in 1610, with the construction of a three-story keep, yagura watchtowers, and fortified gates. The remains of the keep indicate it measured approximately 11m by 12m. Excavations revealed parts of a shachihoko, the ornamental tiger-fish roof adornment found on castles and temples, suggesting that gold-covered shachihoko ornaments, 50cm wide and 80cm high, once adorned the keep’s roof.

The paths to the Honmaru, the main central bailey, were carved from the mountain, creating trenches that could trap attacking forces, while defenders could attack from above. Gates along these trenches regulated the flow of potential attackers. By around 1625, the Ni-no-Maru palace and samurai living quarters were built in the defensible narrow valley below the mountaintop.

Sadowara Castle safeguarded the central Miyazaki region until 1870 when the 10th Shimazu lord abandoned it. Like many other castles across Japan, it was demolished in 1871. In 1994, the Ni-no-Maru palace was reconstructed based on studies of the foundation stones and research into 17th-century architectural styles.

 


See also

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  • Osaka Castle

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