Japanese Castle Explorer

by Daniel O'Grady

Castles of the Samurai: Power and Beauty Japanese Castles 1540-1640

Tsuwano Castle

Images: Daniel O'Grady


Tsuwano Domain

1601 - 1617

Sakazaki Clan

30,000 Koku

1618 - 1871

Kamei Clan

43,000 Koku

Tsuwano Castle is classified as a mountain castle (its layout: Renkakushiki), and is located in Shimane Prefecture. During the pre-modern age, it found itself within the borders of Iwami Province. It is associated with the Yoshimi, Kamei clans. Dates in use: 1295 - 1871.

The story of Tsuwano castle is very much a tale of two castles; those being the Yoshimi-built fortifications of the late 1200's, and the stone-walled fortress of the early 1600's that would envelop the older one. The former castle was named Sanbonmatsu and utilized wooden posts & earthen ditches. The latter was very much a modern castle, whose walls still stand in fine condition today.

There are two castle-related buildings that have survived from the Edo period. The first is the two-story, white-plaster-walled Monomi turret & the second is the Babasaki Turret. The castle town itself has numerous well-preserved old buildings. A leisurely stroll down its streets are a must.

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


1283 Yoshimi Yoriyuki was appointed lord of the area.
1295 Yoriyuki had the castle, known as Sanbonmatsu Castle, built. The castle featured very little stonework (as was common during this period), and relied mostly on a complex array of earthen ditches for its defence.
1554 The castle withstood the 100-day siege of the Ōuchi clan.
1600 The Yoshimi clan, having sided against the Tokugawa at the Battle of Sekigahara, were forced to relinquish their lands. They were replaced by the Sakazaki clan. Sakazaki Naoshige, whose father was Ukita Tadaie, built the castle anew.
1618 The Kamei clan were stationed here.
1686 The main tower was struck by lightning & burnt down.
1854 There was a major fire within the castle grounds. It is believed the two remaining turrets, the Babasaki & Monomi turrets, were build a short time later.
1873 The castle was decommissioned.

Historical recognition

SiteNational Historic Site
Palace ruinsPrefectural Historic Site
Babasaki TurretPrefectural Historic Asset