mito castleMito City, Ibaraki Prefecture

Mito Castle in winter 1Mito Castle in winter 2Mito Castle in winter 3Mito Castle in winter 4Mito Castle in winter 5Mito Castle in winter 6Mito Castle in winter 7Mito Castle in winter 8Mito Castle in winter 9Mito Castle in winter 10
Mito Castle DATA
Other nameBaba Castle, Suifu Castle
castle construction1190-1198
address2-9-22 Sannomaru, Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture
Access to Mito Castle
Approximately 7 minutes walk from Mito Station on the JR Joban Line.

HISTORYMito Castle, Japan's largest earthen castle

Mito Castle is a flat castle built in Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture, and is also famous as one of Japan's largest ``earthen castles''. It is also the castle where Mito Mitsukuni, also known as Mito Komon, was born, and is also known as the residence of the Mito Tokugawa family, one of the three Tokugawa families. Let's unravel the history of Mito Castle.

History up to the establishment of Mito Castle
The location of Mito Castle has been home to a powerful family called the Baba clan since the Heian period. After that, the Edo clan, which also became the name of Edo, replaced the Baba clan and made Mito Castle their residence.
In 1590, the Satake clan, who had been relieved of their territory due to their success in attacking Odawara, raided Mito Castle and destroyed the Edo clan. It is said that the Satake clan, who acquired the land in Mito, expanded Mito Castle and laid the foundation for the current structure of Mito Castle. In addition, the Satake clan remained neutral during the Battle of Sekigahara, neither joining the eastern or western armies, and was transferred to Akita after the establishment of the Edo shogunate.
Mito Castle until the Meiji period
After the Satake clan's transfer, the land of Mito was given to Tokugawa Ieyasu's fifth son, Takeda Shinkichi. However, Takeda Shinkichi suddenly died the following year without a successor, so Tokugawa Yorinobu, the tenth son of Tokugawa Ieyasu, was sealed away. Yorinobu Tokugawa was then transferred to Kishu and reorganized into the Kishu domain, but Mito also became a territory of the Tokugawa family and was ruled by the Mito Tokugawa family until the Meiji period.
Compared to Wakayama Castle and Nagoya Castle, which are both owned by the Tokugawa family, Mito Castle is a renku-style castle that retains a strong Sengoku period style. It was built on a hill between the Nakagawa River in the north and Senba Lake in the south, and its most distinctive feature is the three dry moats with a maximum height difference of 50 meters.
It is also one of the largest earthen castles in Japan, as it was built on earthworks rather than stone walls. The Edo shogunate did not build an old castle tower; instead, there was a large turret called Gosankaiyagura, which was three-story on the outside and five-story on the inside, which replaced the castle tower. In addition, the domain school "Kodokan" was built in Sannomaru during the era of the 9th feudal lord, Nariaki Tokugawa.
The reason why Mito Castle is modest compared to the feudal lord's status is because the Mito castle lord was a daimyo who basically did not practice sankin-tatoshi and remained fixed in Edo. In other words, Mito Castle was a castle without a castle owner. For this reason, buildings other than palaces and other buildings where government affairs were conducted or where the castle lord's family and vassals lived were used for storage.
Mito Castle after the Meiji period
In the Meiji era, feudal domains were abolished and prefectures were established, and Mito Castle was abandoned. The grounds of Mito Castle belonged to the army and became a garrison, but the buildings, including the turret, were saved from demolition. However, in 1872, an arson incident occurred and many of the remaining buildings were destroyed. Since the end of the Edo period, the Mito domain had been in conflict between the reformist Tenguto party and the conservative Shoseito party, and there remained an atmosphere of unrest, with actual battles often taking place, and a search for the culprit was carried out for quite some time. However, the ringleader was never arrested. Additionally, in 1945, the third floor turret was also destroyed by air raids.
After the war, Kodokan was designated as a special national historic site in 1952, and in 1964, Kodokan main office, Shizendo, main gate, and fence were designated as important cultural properties of the country. it was done. After that, the earthworks and dry moat became a historic site designated by Ibaraki Prefecture.
In the Heisei era, Mito City launched a plan to improve the Otemon Gate and the Ninomaru Kakuyagura, and donation activities such as the ``Ichimai Kawara Castle Lord'' began. As a result, Otemon was restored in April 2020. The Yakui-mon gate is the only remaining building from the Edo period and is open to the public.
Today's Mito Castle has the Ninomaru turret, Otemon, and Karahori, all of which have been restored with reinforced concrete, allowing you to remember those days. Along with Kodokan and Kairakuen, it is a tourist resource for Mito City, and Kairakuen is visited by tourists from all over the country, especially during the plum season.

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

Mito domainOne of the three Tokugawa families
The Mito domain was ruled by the Mito Tokugawa family, a branch of the Tokugawa family, like the Kii Tokugawa family and the Owari Tokugawa family, until the Meiji Restoration. These three families were collectively called the ``Gosanke.'' Due to his family background being close to the shogun, the castle lord often appears on the center stage of history.
Mito domain
Mito domain DATA
Domain officemito castle
old areaMito, Ibaraki District, Hitachi Province
stone height350,000 koku
Fudai/TozamaParent clan
main lordTokugawa family
Japanese Castle Photo Contest.03