Yosuke Kakimi (Kita Management General Incorporated Association)Ozu Castle

Kita Management General Incorporated AssociationYosuke Kakimi

-Please tell us about Ozu Castle.
Ozu Castle is a flat mountain castle located on a small hill that uses the Hijikawa River as a moat. The castle tower was once demolished in 1888, but based on historical materials such as old photographs from the Meiji period and wooden models from the Edo period called ``Ozu Castle Tenshu Hinagata,'' Ozu City established itself as a city. The wooden structure was restored in 2004, marking the 50th anniversary. The biggest bottleneck in wooden restoration is the lack of materials that show the internal structure, but the Ozu Castle Tenshu template is a first-class document that clearly shows the internal structure, and thanks to this, the wooden restoration was possible.
All the wood we use is domestically produced, ranging from cypress trees that are over 100 years old around Ozu City to Kiso cypress trees from Nagano Prefecture that are said to be 350 years old. It is made using the traditional construction method.
In addition, four other turrets still exist at Ozu Castle: the kitchen turret, the high railing turret, the ramie turret, and the Sannomaru south corner turret, which have been designated as important cultural properties of the country. Sannomaru Minamisumi Yagura was rebuilt in 1766 and is the oldest building still existing at Ozu Castle. When you look at Ozu Castle from the turret, the stone walls and castle are very beautiful, making it a great photo spot. Chiwata Yagura was rebuilt in 1843.
The kitchen turret and the takaran turret were severely damaged by the earthquake in 1857, but the kitchen turret was rebuilt in the 6th year of the Ansei era (1859), and the takara turret was rebuilt in the 1st year of the Bunkyu era (1861). All four existing turrets were dismantled and repaired during the Showa era. The kitchen turret and the railing turret are connected to the castle tower, and if you take a photo with a telephoto lens over the railroad tracks, you can get a clear picture of the three buildings.
Ozu Castle's predecessor was Jizogatake Castle, which was built by Toyofusa Utsunomiya in 1331, and it became a modern castle in 1587 when Toyotomi Hideyoshi's vassal Katsutaka Toda It is said that he entered the Uwa/Kita District with 160,000 koku. Katsutaka Toda died of illness in Korea during the Bunroku and Keicho eras, and was succeeded by Takatora Todo.
Characteristics of Todo Takatora's castle construction include the use of inubashiri (inubashiri) and surrounding the main castle with a gate turret, and these characteristics can be seen in Ozu Castle as well, from illustrations drawn in the Edo period. For this reason, it is thought that Takatora may have invaded Ozu Castle's territory. The leading theory is that Yasuharu Wakisaka, who was the next to join the castle, built the castle tower based on this. There is also a theory that Yasuharu Wakisaka brought the castle tower from his previous residence, Sumoto Castle, to Ozu Castle.
AtriumOzu Castle Photo Spot
-Please tell me about the castle tower.
The inside of the castle tower has a very unusual structure. There is a "through pillar" in the center, and one pillar is used from the first to the second floor, and another from the third to the fourth floor. Additionally, the area around the pillars on the first and second floors is an atrium that reaches all the way to the ceiling on the second floor. So far, the only towers with open ceilings have been confirmed to be Ozu Castle Tower and Azuchi Castle Tower, which was built by Oda Nobunaga. Currently, Ozu Castle is the only castle tower where you can actually see a tower with an atrium, and it is a major feature.
The 1st, 2nd, and 4th floors have stucco walls, which were constructed using the traditional construction method of wrapping bamboo in a criss-cross pattern, wrapping rough rope around the walls, patting down rough earth, and finishing with plaster. The third floor has walls made of red pine wood from Fukushima Prefecture. The spacing between the pillars was narrow, and it is thought that the space was similar to a warehouse.
Outside the 4th floor of the castle tower, there are large Karahafu on all sides, which makes the windows smaller. When restoring the windows on the 4th floor, there was a plan to make them larger to take advantage of the view, but in the end they were restored faithfully to historical sources. The height of the castle tower is 19.15m, making it the tallest castle tower in Japan that was restored from wood after the war.
The Hijigawa River that flows at the foot of the castle connects to the Seto Inland Sea. During the Edo period, water transportation using the Hijikawa River was popular, and Ozu was a key transportation hub. It seems that it was connected to Osaka and Kyoto through the Seto Inland Sea. When you enter Ozu from the Seto Inland Sea, you will see the castle tower just as you turn the curve of the Hijigawa River, and the castle tower is ornately built with this in mind. As with the large number of gables, we deliberately made the roof gables smaller to make the building appear larger. Today's Shachi was designed during the Edo period, and its highlight is the snake's eye pattern, which is the Kato family crest. Her round eyes are so cute.
The recommended photo spot of the castle tower is from the riverbed across the Hijigawa River. You can take a beautiful photo if you take it from the riverbank a little to the right of the weir.
Ozu experienceOzu experience 2Garyu Sanso
- Please tell us about Japan's first castle stay "Ozu Castle Stay"
Castle Stay is a way to make use of Ozu Castle, a cultural asset, and allows guests to stay in a room in Ozu Castle's restored castle tower, feeling like a castle lord. The restored wooden castle tower does not have air conditioning equipment, so the period is limited to spring (March to June) and autumn (September to November). It started in 2020 and accepts 30 groups a year. Prices start from 1,320,000 yen for a group of two people, but it is often used by families.
Originally, the target was foreigners visiting Japan, but due to the effects of the coronavirus, many Japanese people are still using the service. Initially, many customers came looking for a special experience while refraining from traveling overseas. Last year, we had foreign visitors to Japan from the United States, Singapore, and Indonesia.
By the way, approximately 3,200 people visited Ozu Castle in December 2023, of which approximately 570 were foreigners visiting Japan. There were approximately 450 customers from South Korea, as there is a Seoul flight service to Matsuyama Airport, but the number of European and American customers will increase in the summer. For this reason, pamphlets are available in English, Korean, Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese, and information signs inside the castle are also written in English.
-What kind of experiences can I have at Castle Stay?
First of all, we will reenact the history of the feudal lord Sadayasu Kato's arrival in Ozu, based on records, and invite guests to relive history. The Ozu Gun Corps will also be performing with matchlock guns, and about 20 armored warriors will be lined up to welcome you.
The bedroom is a room inside the castle tower with tatami mats and futons. For dinner, you will enjoy a modern version of the menu that Lord Kato Sadayasu would have eaten, served at the Takaran Yagura Tower, an important cultural property.
There is a bathhouse on the Shiroyama grounds that doubles as a night lounge for guests only, and guests will be transported by car after dinner to take a bath. The wall on the castle side of the bathhouse is entirely made of glass, so you can relax and enjoy the view of the castle lit up at night. A dedicated toilet car is available for restrooms.
The next morning, breakfast will be reserved for you at Garyu Sanso, an important cultural property located in the Hijigawa River's Garyu-buchi pool, and you can enjoy it while looking out at the garden. The location of Garyu Sanso, built by a trader during the Meiji period, is actually a place connected to the Kato family. The name Garyu-buchi comes from the words of the third lord of the domain, Yasitsune Kato, who said that it resembles a reclining dragon, and you can enjoy breakfast or tea while looking at this view.
Other paid options include fireworks, Ozu town walking experiences, and river boating on the Hijigawa River. Fireworks are set off from the riverbank on the opposite bank of the Hijigawa River, and are often used for celebrations such as birthdays.
Welcome flag wavingOzu cityscape
-Are there any other experiences you can enjoy at Ozu Castle?
At Ozu Castle, you can see a public performance of matchlock guns by the Ozu Clan Gun Corps, which was formed in 2014. It is held in the main enclosure on the third Saturday of every month. You can also try shooting rubber bands using a rubber band gun that resembles a matchlock gun.
When the sightseeing train "Iyonada Monogatari," which runs every Saturday, Sunday, and public holiday, passes the Hijigawa iron bridge, a flag emblazoned with the Kato family crest is waved toward the train from Ozu Castle to welcome the train. We are doing This is an event that many customers who come to the castle participate in, and some have used the event as an opportunity to ride the Iyonada Monogatari or see the flag waving from the train window and come to Ozu Castle.
In addition, at Ozu Castle, you can experience pretending to be a military commander wearing replica armor on weekends and holidays only. If the weather is nice, you can take photos with the castle tower in the background.
-Are there any recommended spots in Ozu town?
Garyu Sanso is a must-see. In addition, the cityscape of Ozu retains a strong Edo-period layout, and the castle town area in particular is laid out in a grid pattern, earning it the nickname "Iyo's Little Kyoto." There are a variety of shops, including NIPPONIA HOTEL Ozu Castle Town, which is a renovated old folk house, as well as general stores and souvenir shops, so please take your time to browse through them. In addition, Ozu is the setting for director Yoji Yamada's ``Torajiro and the Lord,'' the 19th film in the ``Otoko wa Tsurai yo'' series.
A typical meal is ``Imotaki'', a local dish made with taro. It is made by cooking taro in a soup made from sweetfish from Hijikawa River, and the seasoning varies depending on the restaurant and each household. A B-class gourmet dish is the local soul food ``Champon.'' It's a sobameshi-style dish of Chinese noodles and rice stir-fried on a teppanyaki grill, and both can be eaten at restaurants.