Japanese Castle Explorer

by Daniel O'Grady

The Baur Collection: Japanese Sword-Fittings and Associated Metalwork Imjin War book cover

Yoshinogari Settlement

Images: Daniel O'Grady

Yoshinogari Settlement is classified as a flatland castle, and is located in Saga Prefecture. During the pre-modern age, it found itself within the borders of Hizen Province. It is associated with the Yayoi People clan. Dates in use: 3c BC - 3c AD.

The Yoshinogari settlement was, and is massive. It is believed to be Japan's largest centres during the Yayoi period and may well be the main settlement of the country known as Yamatai, a place referenced in early Chinese chronicles as being what is now Japan. The site has been extensively rebuilt. So as to preserve the original site, a 30-50 cm layer of earth acts as a protective blanket between the reconstructed buildings and the original excavations.

The park grounds are truly extensive and will require a lot of time to see everything. There is a quite variety to the designs of the buildings. Signboards outline the purpose of each structure. Presumably, based on what had been unearthed there. Guardhouses, rice stores, food preparation huts, watchtowers, it's all very specific.

The defences of the main enclosure are impressive. To enter, you must pass though two gates. One gate for each of the defensive rings. Each ring is made up of a tall, wooden palisade atop a mound with a ditch on the inner side. In addition to the large, central tower found in the main enclosure, there are four watchtowers plus some additional supporting buildings.


Yayoi period (300 BC–250 AD)
Early The first structures of a moated village began to appear.
Mid A larger outer moat was completed. Defences in general became more elaborate. Also, raised-floor buildings, burial mounds & burial jars were in common use at this time.
Late The settlement transformed into the largest in Japan at this time. The largest buildings were found within the well-fortified Northern Inner Enclosure.
1986 The site was discovered during the construction of a road. A study was undertaken to determine its historical significance.
1992 The site was designated a National Historic Site.
2001 The initial phase of the historical park was opened.

Historical recognition

SiteSpecial National Historical Site