Azuchi Castle

From Jcastle.info
Castle Properties
English Name Azuchi Castle
Japanese Name 安土城
Alternate Names
Founder Oda Nobunaga
Year Founded 1576
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Top 100 Castles, Top 100 Mountaintop Castles, Special Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period


Features trenches, stone walls
Visitor Information
Access Azuchi Station (JR Tokaido Line)
Visitor Information 700 yen
Time Required 120 mins
Website http://en.biwako-visitors.jp/spot/detail/157
Location Azuchi, Shiga Prefecture
Coordinates 35° 9' 21", 136° 8' 21"
Admin Visits
Year Visited 2004, 2011
Visits February 21, 2004; November 26, 2011
Added 2004
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Azuchi10.jpg


History

By 1575 Nobunaga had become the most powerful samurai in the country. He turned over control of the Owari & Mino provinces to his eldest son Nobutada and set his own eyes on the unification of all Japan. In 1576, Nobunaga established his new castle and power base at Azuchi on Lake Biwa. This was a very strategic location in that it gave him significant control over the nearby Tokaida and Nakasendo roads to Kyoto and any traffic on Lake Biwa.

It took 3.5 years to complete the main keep and entire castle. Unfortunately, the castle was short lived. After Nobunaga was killed by Akechi Mitsuhide in 1582 at Honnoji Temple, Azuchi Castle was burned to the ground in a battle between Nobunaga's second son Nobukatsu and Akechi's men who had taken over the castle.

The construction of Azuchi Castle was a revolution in castle design and marked the turning point in a new type of castle. Until this time, most were smaller mountaintop structures that were only used as a lookout or as needed. Nobunaga's Azuchi castle led the way for the larger and more grand structures of the late Sengoku Period and Early Edo Period turning castles in to quarters for the daimyo and some retainers.

The main keep itself was 7 stories high and thought to have been the largest multi-storied wooden building in the world at that time. The fifth floor of the main keep was an octagon representing heaven and the quadrangular sixth floor represented the thoughts of Taoism and Confucianism.

The picture above is of the Ote-michi entrance through to the castle. Along either side were houses of loyal retainers.

Visit Notes

Azuchi Castle is a fantastic site to visit. They've done an amazing job excavating the ruins and rebuilding the stone walls throughout the site. Since I was last there in 2004 they rebuilt all the stonework foundations around the base of the mountain. There are still many inaccessible ruins around the mountain so I hope they continue these efforts and open up more of the castle soon. Even though there are only ruins I have to give 4 stars due to the extent of ruins, signage, and the maintenance and ongoing excavations. This site is really a must see for any castle fans.

Japanese Notes

安土城は本当に素晴らしいです。発掘調査によって、石垣が見事に再現されています。2004年に訪れた時から山の麓にある石垣が全部整備されました。この山でまだ行けない石垣や城跡もたくさんあるようなので、その内に他の部分と同じように整備して欲しいですね。建物等はありませんが、城跡の広大さや整備の状況から四つ星にしました。お城ファンは訪れるべき城です。

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3.84
(19 votes)
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SuupaahiirooAshigaru

2 months ago
Score 1++

This is a very nice castle site to visit, although I think 700 yen is very expensive for a site without any (reconstructed) buildings. The most impressive part for me was the place where the main keep once stood, where the grid pattern of the foundation stones is pretty much intact. Don't forget to visit the area with Sōken-ji Temple (摠見寺): the three-storied pagoda is beautiful and there are great views over Lake Sainoko (西ノ湖).

There seem to be four different museums/facilities in the area. Because my time was limited, I only visited Nobunaga no Yakata. Like others have mentioned here, the rebuilt top stories of the main keep and the virtual reality video are well worth it.
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FurinkazanHatamoto

6 months ago
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This morning the rain dripped a little bit, but stopped when i arrived at Azuchi station. There is still only one exit at this station but they're doing a complete overhaul of it. Of what i could see, there will be 2 exits in the near future. Exiting the station, i went left to go under the railtracks and go to the Azuchi castle museum. They have a very impressive model(scale 1/20) of the keep of the castle. This model can be opened to show the interior. Not to miss. I went back in front of the station to rent a bicycle. In the first shop there was nobody, so i went to the one right from the station. The fee to rent a bicycle depends on the time you'll use it. When i told the old man where i was going, he guessed i needed 5 hours, so the prize was set at 1000¥. Actually i used it a bit longer than that and i had to pay 300¥ more. Ok, it's a little bit at the high end, but the old man gave me 3 maps. On the first one he told me the complete route for the sites i wanted to go. The second one was that of Azuchijô. Here again he showed me the route. The last one was for Kannonjijô. He was very helpful. The ruins of Azuchijô are impressive, but the access beyond the honmaru is still fenced off.(sorry RaymondW).

After the castle i went to the Saga Prefectural Archeological museum. There are very nice artifacts, but especially several models of different castles.The fee is 1180¥, but then you have access to the museum of 'The house of Nobunaga'. I highly recommend to visit this facility. Inside is the reconstruction of the last 2 levels of the tenshukaku of Azuchijô. It was made using the old techniques. There is also a VR video of about 15min. This was amazing. You make the visit of the castle in presence of Luis Frois. I was stunned by the beauty of this video. You see that the hill of Azuchijô was almost completely surrounded by water, in those days. From there i went on to Kannonjijô.
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ARTHatamoto

11 months ago
Score 0++
There are like 3 Azuchi Castle museums. I ignored the 安土城資料館 (Azuchi castle information center, 200 yen) next to the station, looked sparse although the building is nice. I went to the 安土城考古博物館 (Azuchi castle archeological museum). It was good with interesting models but no photography is permitted plus many of the exhibits focus on the kofun period (there is a kofun nearby, i went, just a hill with a path). The last place i went was the 安土城天主信長の館 (Azuchi castle heavenly lord Nobunaga hall) where they have a full scale replica of the top two floors of the castle tower and virtual reality screenings of how the castle used to look. I was well impressed.
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RaymondWHatamoto

62 months ago
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Made it to Azuchi Castle for another re-visit today. They have been busy since my last visit almost a year ago. More undergrowth have been cleared from some of the lower ishigaki to the right on the Otemichi (main road) up the castle. Some undergrowth have also been cleared from some of the Ninomaru ishigaki. Now, only if they would open up the Sannomaru and other sections of the castle ruin to the public.
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A22cricketAshigaru

78 months ago
Score 0++
RaymondW, went to the museums nearby. They were great. I'm surprised this area doesn't get more attention from tourists.
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RaymondWHatamoto

78 months ago
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a22cricket, did you go to the Azuchi Castle Museum just across from JR Azuchi Station? The staff is pretty helpful there, and you can pick up an info pack about Azuchi Castle (in Japanese only) for 200 yen. Within the pack is a small map of Kannonji Castle, too.
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A22cricketAshigaru

78 months ago
Score 0++
Spent June 5th, 2011 here for the Oda Nobunaga festival. It's held on the first Sunday every June and the town puts on a parade, arquebus demonstrations, feasts, tea ceremony, etc., etc. Fun weekend and still a great trip. One of the best sites on Lake Biwa.
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A22cricketAshigaru

79 months ago
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Read \Taiko"by Eiji Yoshikawa which is about castle warfare and Hideyoshi Toyotomi and saw a lot of references to Azuchi. Great ruins and museums. The book is great as well although not as good as Yoshikawa's \""Musashi\""."""
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ThomasVPeasant

81 months ago
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Currently writing my master's dissertation about Azuchi Castle. It's fascinating to trace down it's history and the people who helped with the construction. Top class castle!
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RaymondWHatamoto

81 months ago
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I went to Azuchi Castle Ruin first before making it over to Kannonji Castle Ruin on the last weekend of February. This is my fourth visit to this castle ruin, so I decided just to ride around the base of the hill and suss out the parts that I have not seen nor are regularly visited. If you are going to rent a bicycle, ride around the area a little, and you will see some of the canals lined with ishigaki created in the days of Oda Nobunaga. Also, go past the big Azuchi Castle sign on the main road heading towards Hikone. First, you will see the remnants of some kind of water moat (more like a pond now) and a bit of ishigaki. Go a bit further, and you will see an open space and a set of steps leading into the bush. Go up the steps, and you will find some ishigaki of some of the lower eastern baileys. They are heavily overgrown with bamboo and other trees.
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Alamo6400Peasant

83 months ago
Score 0++
I love azuchi castle because it is ruled by one of my favorite daimyo oda nobunaga it is rated 1 on my account because azuchi castle shows the power of the oda clan and oda nobunaga azuchi castle is built on omi province shiga prefecture there is another castle in omi province odani castle .odani castle was ruled by old and dead by that time azai nagamasa died at the battle of anegawa
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FurinkazanHatamoto

86 months ago
Score 0++

Actually i didn't went to this castleruins, but several days earlier i was at the Ise Azuchi-Momoyama Bunka mura, aka. Ise Wonderland. This is a recreational parc and it has a reconstruction in concrete of the Azuchicastle. The entrance to the parc is 2500yen and 500yen more to enter the castle. In the castle are some puppets recreating some of the important stages of Oda Nobunaga's life. You may pay also 3900yen to access

everything, as well as the theaters. I assisted to one of them, but everything is in japanese.
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Anonymous user #1

90 months ago
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Hmm... octagonal 6th floor on the donjon, you say. Must have been an unsuccessful expirement as it was never repeated.
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Anonymous user #1

106 months ago
Score 0++
Lisa,I don't know where you are now. I went to and stayed at Hkone with my wife on Feb 15. The hotel we stayed was faced to the castle moat. The staffs are kind. You can visit Azuchi ruins within 30 minutes by local train. Have a nice tour! Kai,Kitakyushu-city
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JcastleHatamoto

109 months ago
Score 0++
Agreed. Look for hotels in Hikone. There should be several hotels with English websites and it's just a couple stops away by train. You can visit Hikone Castle too and there is a variety of things to do in Hikone too.
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RaymondWHatamoto

109 months ago
Score 0++

Lisa,

I am not the guy who runs this wonderful website, but I live in Shiga and have been to Azuchi Castle Ruins a couple of times.

There isn't much around JR Azuchi Station. Your best bet for finding a hotel would be in Kusatsu, Hikone, or perhaps Omi-hachiman, one station from Azuchi. The first two places, which are also on the same JR line, are around 15 to 20 minutes from Azuchi. Why not stay in Hikone City and visit both Hikone Castle (an original castle) and Azuchi Castle Ruins?

My two yens' worth.