|Alternate Name||Sekiroku Castle|
|Admin's Rating||★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆|
|Historical Value||Important Cultural Properties|
Important Cultural Properties:
Shinozu Shrine Omote Gate, Zeze Shrine Omote Gate
|Location||Otsu, Shiga Pref.|
|Access||Zeze Sta. (JR Biwako Line), 20 min walk|
|Website||Shiga Pref. Tourism|
|Visitor Info.||No fees | Time Required: 30 minutes for castle ruins and 2 hours for visiting original structures scattered around Zeze|
|Notes||There isn’t a lot to see here now. Some stone walls still remains, but most of the baileys have been built over and form part of modern Zeze. The location is reasonably scenic on the lakeside, but is more of a park now rather than a castle ruin. The real attraction would be seeing the original gates at the different shrines and walking along the southern shore of Lake Biwa. To get around to the local shrines, I used my bicycle. Without a bicycle, it would be a nice long walk to get in all the original gates and the two-storey turret. Zeze Park is around 20 minutes on foot from JR Zeze Station. Zeze Shrine, with two of the original gates, is the closest shrine. It is 5 minutes away on foot. Without the original gates moved to nearby shrines, this castle site would only rate half a star for its minimal ruins but with the gates, it gets bumped up to a one-star rating for me.|
After the Battle of Sekigahara, Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered a new castle to be built in Zeze. This castle was designed by Todo Takatora. In its construction, some building materials were taken from the dismantled Otsu Castle. Zeze Castle had a four storey castle keep, a rarity in Japan as the number four is considered to be unlucky. The castle ruin site protrudes into Lake Biwa and is considered to be one of the top three lakeside castles (along with Takashima Castle in Nagano, and Matsue Castle in Shimane) in Japan. The Honmaru (Main Bailey) and Ninomaru (Second Bailey) of the castle were like islands floating in the lake, and it was also called Sekiroku (Stone Deer) Castle. In May 1662, this castle was badly damaged by an earthquake. The original castle keep was severely damaged, and some of the Honmaru and Ninomaru turrets including their bases collapsed and sunk into the lake. The Honmaru and Ninomaru were repaired, and the baileys were merged into one, the current site of Zeze Park.
The first lord of the castle was Toda Kazuaki in 1601 followed by Toda Ujikane, Honda Yasutoshi, Honda Toshitsugu, Suganuma Sadayoshi, Ishikawa Tadafusa, and Ishikawa Noriyuki. In 1651, Honda Toshitsugu took over again and until the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Honda Clan ruled the castle. In 1870, the castle was demolished and many of its gates were sold to nearby shrines. Some of these original gates, which are listed as important national cultural assets, can be found at Shinozu Shrine (篠津神社), Wakamiya Hachiman Shrine (若宮八幡神社), and Zeze Shrine (膳所神社). The Shinozu Shrine’s current Otemon is the former North Otemon of Zeze Castle. Zeze Shrine has two of the Zeze Castle’s original Honmaru gates with the current Zeze Shrine’s Omote Gate being a former Zeze Castle Honmaru gate facing the Ninomaru. Wakamiya Hachiman Shrine’s main gate is the former Honmaru’s Inuhashi Gate. An original two-storey turret from the east side of the Honmaru can be found in Chausuyama Park (茶臼山公園). It has been converted into a small building used for meetings.