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Tsu Castle, located in Tsu City, Mie Prefecture, was originally built by Hosono Fujiatsu in 1558 and was known as Anotsu Castle, named after the old region. The site was strategically chosen at the confluence of the Ano and Iwata Rivers, which naturally formed a moat around the castle, while the nearby port served as a vital trade route.

The castle, as it is now known, was established by Oda Nobukane, the younger brother of Oda Nobunaga, as a strategic base for the Oda clan's expansion into the Ise Peninsula. Nobukane constructed an impressive complex featuring the Honmaru, Ni-no-Maru, and San-no-Maru baileys, along with a five-story keep and a smaller sub-keep. In 1595, he handed control to the Tomita Clan, who held it for only five years.

During the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Tomita Nobuhiro and his 1,300 samurai defended Tsu Castle against a combined force of 30,000 Western allies led by Mori Terumoto and Chosokabe Morichika. The castle was largely destroyed by fire. Despite the destruction, the Tomita were rewarded by Tokugawa Ieyasu and began reconstructing the castle until their transfer to Uwajima in 1608. Tsu Castle was then entrusted to Todo Takatora, a master castle architect.

Instead of restoring the original five-story keep, Takatora built two simpler, three-story yagura watchtowers, connected by single-story tamon-yagura that encircled the Honmaru. The castle featured two main masugata gate systems and was flanked by the Higashi-Maru and Nishi-no-Maru baileys, with the grand Ni-no-Maru Palace in the western section.

The decision not to rebuild an elaborate keep was influenced by the Tokugawa Shogunate's laws restricting castle expansions to prevent further conflicts. Additionally, Takatora, who had initially sided with the West at Sekigahara, likely avoided raising suspicions with his new ally, the shogun.

Takatora's descendants ruled Tsu Castle for 263 years until Japan's feudal system was abolished in 1871, leading to the castle's demolition. A corner yagura was reconstructed in concrete in 1958, with enhanced gables for aesthetic appeal.

 


See also

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    Tsuyama Castle, located in Tsuyama City, Okayama Prefecture, is celebrated as one of Japan's top three major hilltop (Hirayama) castles, alongside Himeji and Matsuyama Castles. Originally, Tsuyama Castle comprised 77 structures, including the main keep, various yagura (watchtowers), gates, palaces, and living quarters. For comparison, Hiroshima Castle had 76 structures, and Himeji had 61. The first castle on this site was built in 1441 but was soon abandoned. The large-scale construction that we recognize today began in 1603 under the orders of Mori Tadamasa. The castle served as the administrative base for the Tsuyama Han daimyo, the Mori clan from 1603 to 1697, and the Matsudaira clan from 1698 to 1871.

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