Japanese Castle Explorer

by Daniel O'Grady

       
The Baur Collection: Japanese Sword-Fittings and Associated Metalwork Castles of the Samurai: Power and Beauty

Uwajima Castle

Images: Daniel O'Grady

宇和島藩

Uwajima Domain


富田氏
1608 - 1613

Tomita Clan

120,000 Koku

伊達氏
1614 - 1871

Date Clan

100,000 Koku

宇和島城
Uwajima Castle is classified as a hilltop castle (its layout: Teikakushiki), and is located in Ehime Prefecture. During the pre-modern age, it found itself within the borders of Iyo Province. It is associated with the Tōdō, Date clans. Dates in use: 1596 - 1871.

The castle at Uwajima is perhaps a little too hard to get to for the average tourist. Located on the Western coast of Shikoku, it requires deliberate planning to take in its sights. The main reason why you would visit the castle is that it is one of just 12 that have managed to retain their original Edo period main tower - an exclusive club given the many 100's that had been originally built.

The castle experienced its share or battles prior to its final expansion around 1600. On two occasions since then, the number of buildings have decreased. The first was about 30 years after the castle was decommissioned and then again in bombing in WWII. The precious main tower aside, there is little else of interest for the castle enthusiast, save for the impressive Date clan museum & some minor gates.

Uwajima's Tenshu

The central tower of Uwajima could hardly be described as menacing or imposing. And not because of it being relatively short in stature either. It has been described as being cute, and I'd tend to agree. There is an undeniable grace in its design though, which may see people rate it above some of its boxy cousins.

Timeline

941 Fortifications were first built.
1236 The fortifications were expanded upon. At that time, the castle was known as Marukushi castle.
1546 The Chōsokabe clan were in possession of the castle when the Ōtomo clan attempted to take it.
1585 The armies of Toyotomi Hideyoshi took possession of the castle. He then put his retainers in charge there.
1595 The Tōdō clan were awarded the domain.
1596 A major restoration of the previous fortifications were initiated by Tōdō Takatora.
1601 The name of the castle was changed to Uwajima upon completion. In the same year, the Tōdō clan were transferred to Imabari Castle further north.
1608 The Tomita clan were transferred here.
1614 Hidemune, the son of the renowned Daimyō Date Masamune, was awarded the domain & entered the following year.
1662 A major restoration on what was a castle in very poor condition was undertaken.
1671 The restoration, including repairs to the main tower, were completed.
1871 The castle was abandoned.
1900 Most of the turrets & gates were torn down.
1945 The Ōte Gate burnt to the ground due to WWII bombing.
1950 The castle was awarded Important Cultural Property status.
1952 The Kōri nagaya gate was transferred to the castle grounds and now acts as its entrance.
1960 A complete restoration of the main tower took place over two years.

Historical recognition

SiteNational Historic Site
Main TowerImportant Cultural Property
Noboritachi GateCity designated Important Cultural Property