Japanese Castle Explorer

by Daniel O'Grady

Japanese Castles 1540-1640 Samurai's Blood

Mito Castle

Images: Unknown


Mito Domain

1602 - 1603

Takeda Clan

150,000 Koku

1603 - 1609

Tokugawa Clan

200,000 Koku

徳川 (水戸)
1609 - 1869

Tokugawa (Mito) Clan

250,000 Koku

Mito Castle is classified as a hilltop castle (its layout: Renkakushiki), and is located in Ibaraki Prefecture. During the pre-modern age, it found itself within the borders of Hitachi Province. It is associated with the Tokugawa clan. Dates in use: 1190 - 1869.

The three branches of the Tokugawa clan were located in Owari (Nagoya Castle), Kii (Wakayama Castle) & Hitachi (Mito Castle), with the main line located in the capital of Edo. Considering the status & incomes of each branch, the castle of Mito was surprisingly simple. There was no twisting maze of towering stone walls for the soldiers to defend from, nor dozens of turrets, nor an imposing main tower. Its three defensive rings were arranged in a row with some two-story turrets dotting the perimeter.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, little has survived to this day. A large Yakui gate links the main enclosure. Prior to the 1980's this gate had had a thatched roof, but due to the on-going expense of maintaining it, it was replaced with copper sheet. Another notable building on the castle grounds is the Kōdō-kan, the former clan school. In the near future we may see an addition to the castle. Rumour has it that money is currently being raised to rebuild the turret-topped gate, the Ōte mon.

Google Map Views (グーグルマップ)

Best view ベストビュー
Orbit view 軌道ビュー


1190 The castle was constructed by the Baba clan toward the very end of the 1100's.
1416 The castle fell to the Edo clan.
1590 The castle was awarded to the Satake clan.
1596 The castle was improved & expanded upon by the Satake clan.
1602 The Takeda clan replaced the Satake.
1603 Yoshinobu of the Tokugawa clan was transferred here.
1609 The Mito branch on the Tokugawa clan was established when Ieyasu appointed his 11th son, Yorifusa, lord of Mito domain.
1625 The castle was renovated. Interestingly, the three-story central tower that was built, wasn't classified as a keep but as a turret instead, as would its successor.
1764 A massive fire destroyed most buildings.
1766 The three-layered turret was rebuilt. Though externally quite simple, the tower actually had five levels within it.
1841 The Kōdō-kan clan school opened.
1842 Kairaku-en opened. This stroll-type garden is noted as being one of Japan's top three such gardens.
1868 Some buildings were lost in another fire. War?
1871 The castle was decommissioned.
1945 The main tower was lost to fire following a WWII air-raid.

Historical recognition

SitePrefectural Historic Site
Kōdō-kan (clan school)Important Cultural Property & Special National Historic Site
Yakui Gate Prefectural Important Cultural Property