Shibata CastleShibata City, Niigata Prefecture

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Shibata Castle DATA
Other nameAyame Castle/Funagata Castle
castle constructionnot clear
address6-4 Otemachi, Shibata City, Niigata Prefecture

Also known as ``Ayame Castle'', it was built in 1598 by Hidekatsu Mizoguchi, the first lord of the Shibata domain, and completed by Nobunao, the third generation. Heijo was built on flat land with the aim of providing convenient transportation as a political and economic center.

Access to Shibata Castle
Approximately 20 minutes walk from Shibata Station on the JR Uetsu Main Line.

HISTORYShibata Castle, also known as Ayame Castle

Shibata Castle is a flatland castle that existed in Shibata City, Niigata Prefecture. The castle was completed only in 1654, so a three-story turret was built instead of a castle tower. Currently, part of the site is a Self-Defense Force garrison, but it is the only castle ruins in Niigata Prefecture that still has buildings, and is counted as one of Japan's 100 most famous castles. Let's take a look at the history of Shibata Castle.

Shibata before the Edo period
The Shibata area had been ruled by the Shibata clan, whose ancestor was Sasaki Moritsuna, who also contributed to the establishment of the Kamakura Shogunate, since the Muromachi period. The Shibata clan were also the first to build a castle here. The old Shibata Castle had been the residence of the Shibata clan for generations, but in 1581 (Tensho 9), Shibata Shigeie rebelled against his lord, Uesugi Kagekatsu. (Shibata Shigeie Rebellion) The rebellion continued until 1587 (Tensho 15), and the Shibata clan was destroyed. The old Shibata Castle also fell at this time.
Afterwards, the Uesugi clan was transferred to Aizu by order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and then in 1597, Mizoguchi Hidekatsu was bestowed with the land of Shibata with a fief of 60,000 koku. He began construction of a new castle on the site of the old Shibata Castle. This is the Shibata Castle that has been restored today. Construction of the castle was not completed until 1654, and it took more than 50 years to complete.
Shibata Castle in the Edo Period
Shibata Castle was built on flat land in 1597, the second year of the Keicho era, when the war-torn era had almost come to an end. A castle tower was not built from the beginning, and instead a three-story turret was built in the northwest corner of the main citadel to serve as a castle tower. Named the "three-story turret," it was destroyed by fire in 1668 and rebuilt in 1679. The rebuilt three-story turret had a T-shaped third roof ridge decorated with three shachihoko (roof ornaments). This is a very rare shape, and can only be seen in Shibata Castle today. The three-story turret was demolished in 1894 and rebuilt in 2004.
In addition, it is clear that it was not built for war, as the Namako wall was used to protect against snow accumulation, and some of the roofs of the buildings are thatched. The fact that it was also known as Ayame Castle suggests that it was built with the highest priority on functioning as a government office, rather than for war.
Shibata Castle after the Edo period
When the castle abolition order was issued in the Meiji era, Shibata Castle was used as a garrison for the army, including the 8th Infantry Battalion. In the early Meiji era, it was not uncommon for army garrisons to be set up on castle sites. However, since there was no other place in Niigata Prefecture to garrison troops other than Shibata Castle, the 8th Infantry Battalion was stationed at Shibata Castle until 1873, when it moved to Takasaki. However, the entire unit did not move, and the 2nd Company remained at Shibata Castle. The 2nd Company was later expanded to the 16th Infantry Regiment, and Shibata Castle continued to be a garrison until the end of the Pacific War. Most of the castle sites that became army garrisons in the Meiji era were returned to local governments and developed into parks in the Taisho era, so Shibata Castle, where the army was stationed, was unusual.
Even after the Pacific War, part of Shibata Castle was used as a garrison for the Self-Defense Forces, and the restored Sankai Yagura is located on the Self-Defense Forces' grounds, so the interior cannot be visited. On the other hand, the area outside the Self-Defense Forces' grounds has been developed as a castle park, and visitors can visit the Honmaru Omotemon Gate, the Former Ninomaru Corner Tower, and the Tatsumi Tower, which was restored at the same time as the Sankai Yagura, all of which are designated as Important Cultural Properties of Japan. By the way, you can also see the three Shachi, the only ones in Japan, from the outside.
Currently, Shibata Castle is a popular tourist destination where you can see the restored three-story turret, Self-Defense Force vehicles, and Self-Defense Force personnel, and the movie "It's like the Self-Defense Force after the War" is based on it. On the day of the commemorative event, when the base is open to the public and mock training can be observed, it has become a tourist spot where many visitors come to see the rare sight.
Shibata Castle was built in an era when wars were becoming a thing of the past, and is a rare castle that has served as a garrison for the army and the Self-Defense Forces from the Meiji era to the present. In 2006, it was selected as one of Japan's 100 Great Castles, and you can enjoy flowers of all seasons at the castle ruins park. During cherry blossom season, the castle is lit up, so many people visit to see the cherry blossoms at night.

History of the Shibata Domain, with Shibata Castle as its domain office

Shibata DomainHe devoted his efforts to developing new fields.
The Shibata Domain was a domain that governed parts of the Shibata region, centering on the current Shibata City in Niigata Prefecture. It was originally the territory of the Shibata clan, who served the Uesugi clan, but in 1581, Shibata Shigeie caused a rebellion and was destroyed by Uesugi Kagekatsu.
Shibata Domain
Shibata domain DATA
Domain officeShibata Castle
old areaShibata, Kanbara District, Echigo Province
stone height100,000 koku
main lordMr. Shibata, Mr. Mizoguchi
Estimated population190,000 people (first year of Meiji)

Hidekatsu Mizoguchi is relieved of his position. Since then, the Mizoguchi family has continued for 12 generations. Naoryo Mizoguchi, the 10th generation who advocated the idea of reverence and opening the country, wrote ``Hokoku-setsu.''

Japanese Castle Photo Contest.03