Japanese Castle Explorer

by Daniel O'Grady

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

Yatsushiro Castle

Images: Daniel O'Grady


Yatsushiro Domain

1600 - 1632

Katō Clan

* Koku

1632 - 1871

Hosokawa Clan

* Koku

Yatsushiro Castle is classified as a flatland castle (its layout: Rinkakushiki), and is located in Kumamoto Prefecture. During the pre-modern age, it found itself within the borders of Higo Province. It is associated with the Katō, Hosokawa, Matsui clans. Dates in use: 1619 - 1870.

Yatsushiro castle came into being following the massive earthquake that leveled the town's former castle, Mugishima-jō. Permission was sought & quickly given by the Shōgunate despite their own new laws which severely restricted castle construction & reconstruction. Completed just three years later, it must have been quite a sight with the large four-layered main tower sitting atop gleaming white, limestone foundations.

Time may have taken the shine off the walls & seen the outer fortifications reduced to almost nothing but the stonework of the innermost enclosure, the Hon-maru, has been preserved & is well maintained. This place is well worth checking out, Kumamoto's castles do not disappoint.

Within walking distance to the Northwest of the castle is the Shōhin-ken. Amazingly, this two-story teahouse dates from 1688. It was actually built by Matsui Naoyuki for his mother. Within the grounds are several old buildings, one of which contains historical items relating to the former owners. Additional old castle gates have been relocated to the South & to the West of the castle.

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


1619 Construction of the castle commenced.
1622 The castle was completed
1632 The Katō clan were given their marching orders & were replaced by the Hosokawa clan.
1645 With the death of Hosokawa Tadaoki, the Matsui clan were transferred here. The Hosokawa continued to use Kumamoto Castle.
1672 Due to a lightning strike, the main tower along with other turrets burnt to the ground.
1797 Yet another lightning strike, this time the Shōin, a large administrative building within the main enclosure, was destroyed. It was later rebuilt.
1870 The castle was decommissioned.
1986 The Shōin was destroyed during efforts to relocate it (?!? will have to look into that a bit more.)

Historical recognition

SitePrefectural Historic Site
Shōhin-kenNational Historical Site of Scenic Beauty
Honjō-ji Kōrai GateCity Designated Important Cultural Property
Nagao Rice storehouseCity Designated Important Cultural Property
Nagao storehouse GateCity Designated Important Cultural Property