Edo Castle

From Jcastle.info
Castle Properties
English Name Edo Castle
Japanese Name 江戸城
Alternate Names
Founder Uesugi Family
Year Founded 1457
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Designations Top 100 Castles, has Important Cultural Properties, Special Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period


Artifacts Soto Sakurada Gate, Tayasu Gate, Shimizu Gate
Features gates, turrets, bridges, water moats, stone walls, walls
Visitor Information
Access Tokyo Station, among others
Visitor Information Free admission. Opens from 9am. Closes between 4 and 5pm depending on the season. Closed Mondays and Fridays except when Monday is a national holiday, in which case it's closed on Tuesday. Also closed 12/28-1/3 and irregularly for other events.
Time Required 3 hrs.
Website http://www.kunaicho.go.jp/11/d11-03.html
Location Tokyo, Tokyo
Coordinates 35° 41' 18", 139° 45' 16"
Admin Visits
Year Visited 1992, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
Visits August 1992, many times since
Added 1999
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Edo6.jpg


History

The history of Edo Castle dates back to the Heian Period when a fortified palace was built by the Edo clan on this site. In 1457 the Uesugi clan constructed the first Edo Castle. The castle remained under the control of the Uesugi family until the coming of the Tokugawa. Before Tokugawa Ieyasu, Edo (Tokyo) was just another town in the Kanto area. Partly due to Ieyasu's revolutionary city planning, the town of Edo developed at lightning speed and quickly became the social and political center of Japan.

In 1590, after Toyotomi Hideyoshi completed the unification of Japan he granted lordship over the greater Tokyo region to his lieutenant Tokugawa Ieyasu. Tokugawa could have ruled from the well established castle town of Odawara (80km west of Tokyo); instead, he took the opportunity to build a new city from the underdeveloped village of Edo. In a little over 100 years, Edo's population would grow to more than a million people, making it the largest city in the world.

When Tokugawa became Shogun in 1603, Edo effectively became the capital of Japan. He mobilized a workforce from all parts of the country to build the huge stone walls, watchtowers, and palaces of the castle. The castle was the heart of Tokugawa's city and the largest castle in the world. The castle design was the work of the great castle architect, and Ieyasu's friend, Todo Takatora.

The 15km outer moat and the 5km inner moat connect to the Sumida River to roughly spiral around the inner compound of the castle. The entire 15km of the outer moat was dug and completed in around four months, an incredible feat in any century. These Inner and Outer moats were crossed by 36 gates, many of which have left their mark on well known place names: Hanzomon, Toranomon, Akasaka Mitsuke (-mon & -mitsuke are gates); Hitotsubashi, Kandabashi, Suidobashi, and Iidabashi (-bashi means bridge) are all namesakes from those fortified bridges. Buddhist temples were even strategically located in the Northeast (Kaneiji Temple) and Southwest (Zojoji Temple) to ward off evil spirits in accordance with Japanese feng shui.

Since the end of the Edo Period (1868), Tokyo has suffered calamities such as the Great Kanto Earthquake (1923) and WWII where fires destroyed much of the city. Even so, you can still find remnants of the original castle scattered around Tokyo. There are around 20 original buildings (3 of the gates are registered as Important Cultural Properties) and sections of the stonework fortifications can be seen throughout the city.

The six main compounds surrounded by the inner moat remain almost as they were at the end of the Edo Period. The Western and Fukiage Compounds are now known as the Imperial Palace and the First, Second and Third Compounds are called the "Imperial Palace East Gardens." You can walk the gardens, but the public is only allowed into the Imperial Palace grounds on special occasions. The North Compound is home to a park, museum, and the famous Budokan event hall. Jogging around this central core is a popular course for Tokyo runners. Any day of the week, you will see countless joggers making the 5km trek around the castle grounds. Many people don't realize that the massive stone walls and waterway they jog around were the original castle walls and moat. Along this course you can also enjoy the sights of 9 gates and 3 watchtowers, including the Otemon Gate.

The amount of stonework that has lasted over the past 400 years is amazing considering all they have withstood. Each stone was expertly fit together without mortar to provide enough flexibility to stand through hundreds of years of earthquakes. Most of the stone walls and fortifications of the outer moat were destroyed to make way for new developments in the 1900s. Sotobori Dori (Outer Moat Road) was built over part of the outer moat after filling most of it in. The canal across the northern part of the castle today is the only part of the old moat that was not filled in. If you walk along the high embankments you will occasionally come across ruins from the original fortifications.

For 264 years, 15 generations of Tokugawa ruled Japan from Edo Castle. The Tokugawa gave up control of the castle when they lost the Boshin war in 1868. The Emperor was restored as the ruler of Japan and moved to Edo Castle. At this time, the city was renamed Tokyo, or "Eastern Capital". The next time you are in Tokyo or even look at a map of the city, note the large green area in the middle and think about how the castle defined the city of Tokyo today.

Visit Notes

I have visited Edo-jo many times and never tire of walking the grounds or searching out remnants of the original castle. The size may surprise you because it would take most of a day to walk the whole grounds and visit all the structures even with a well planned trip.


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3.38
(45 votes)
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FurinkazanHatamoto

6 months ago
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I arrived today in Japan. I visited the Sengakuji, the Zôjôji and made a new stroll on the grounds of Edojô. When you visit the Sengakuji(known for the graves of Asano and his 47 rônin). Enter the museum. There is a video of about 15min. The employee who sold me the ticket, put the english version. The nice thing for castle fans is the first part. You'll see a 3D model of Edojô with all its buildings, even the tenshukaku. They confirm that at the time of the Ako incident the tenshukaku had been destroyed by a fire and never rebuild. You see also some parts of the goten from the outside untill you reach the matsu roka, where the incident took place.
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ARTHatamoto

11 months ago
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Question: What was the name of the bailey where the kokyo-gaien (outer garden) is today? It's surrounded by babasaki-bori and hibiya-bori moats.
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ARTHatamoto

19 months ago
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Owch, that must have hurt
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JcastleHatamoto

19 months ago
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Maybe if you're sneaky about it ;) When I was, ahem, caught taking photos despite the sign, the guard watched as I deleted each photo from my camera :(
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ARTHatamoto

19 months ago
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Thanks, Eric! That is the building I heard about. It was recommended as a \good place to take pictures from"but I guess maybe not after all. """
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JcastleHatamoto

19 months ago
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There may be more than one such building. Edo Castle is a pretty big place. I know the Palace Side Building (near Takebashi Station / Hirakawa Gate) has a nice view from that side. You can't take pictures though. The guards will get really grumpy. I work nearby and take my bento lunch here once in awhile. The last photograph in the link below shows the top of the building.

http://www.mai-b.co.jp/about/
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ARTHatamoto

19 months ago
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So i heard there is a tallish building which for two hours daily opens its roof top for panoramic views of Edo castle. Does anybody know the details?
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FurinkazanHatamoto

19 months ago
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I finally visited the eastern gardens today. The interesting parts are the moats, the teahouse and guardhouses. The rest is a nice park. The weather was nice today and i enjoyed strolling around.
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FurinkazanHatamoto

42 months ago
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Since i was only visiting Tokyo for 2 days, i had to make a choice. Or visiting on sunday the Eastern gardens(closed on monday) or visiting today the palace grounds (closed on weekends). I decided to visit the palace grounds. I think it is more rewarding because you pass really next to the Fujimi-yagura and you see the Fushimi-yagura,which some parts are being restored. After the visit i did a complete tour around the park. There are alot of masugata-mon all over the place. It was really interesting. Next time i'll try to visit the eastern gardens.
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JcastleHatamoto

65 months ago
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Sorry, I've never seen a souvenir coin for Edo Castle before.  I did a brief search on the net but I didn't see any either.  One father-son blog also said they wished there was such machine around Edo Castle.
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Anonymous user #1

65 months ago
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Does anyone know if there is a souvenir coin for this castle? I have collected souvenir coins (usually 500 yen from a machine in the gift shop) from many of the well known castles in Japan. I visited the Imperial Gardens and near the statue of Matsuhige (sp?) the other day but no one at any of the gift shops knew of any coins. If anyone knows, let me know. I'm leaving Japan in a few days. On a sidenote, I thought Edo Jo is definitely worth a visit. Walking around the gardens and observing the walls is worth your time alone.
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CraigPeasant

65 months ago
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Despite the grand name of the imperial palace and the fame of Edo Castle I found this a rather pointless place to visit. The moat is rather lovely and the contrast of this park surrounded by skyscrapers is interesting but overall...there's just nothing special to see.

Its a nice place to hang out if you live in central Tokyo but not a worthwhile place for visitors to go unless they've time to kill.
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Anonymous user #1

74 months ago
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Being Japanese, I can tell you that the main reason that the keep has not, and never will be, rebuilt is political. To this day, the government and imperial family tend to look down on the samurai, as they (the gov.) 'reformed' (I have my woes with the Meiji Restoration) society during the Meiji Restoration. They were the ones that tore down most of the castles left in Japan in the name of modernising society. Even without a tenshu (keep) it is actually strange, when you think about it, that the imperial family lives in what was a castle of the samurai. Thus, adding a tenshu would be a tribute to the samurai and the Shogunate, which the government would never allow, unfortunately. As far as Aizu-Wakamatsu goes, I was there just 2 weeks ago during the Aizu Festival! It was far from the epicentre, so as Eric said, the castle and city are fine, but unfortunately because it is in Fukushima prefecture (albeit 100km away from the reactors), the number of tourists has greatly decreased. There is no danger as far as going to the city (and the vast majority of the rest of Fukushima). So I strongly encourage anyone with interest to go, without tourism to help stimulate the economy, the recovery process will be a lot harder.
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JcastleHatamoto

79 months ago
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Regarding earthquakes, Aizu Wakamatsu is pretty far from the coast and the center of the earthquake。From what I've read the castle has sustained no damage. I have friends who lived much closer in Fukushima with little or no damage. There was some significant damage at Shirakawa Castle to the stone walls also some stone walls crumbled at Aoba Castle in Sendai and there was some cosmetic damage to Shiroishi Castle.
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JcastleHatamoto

79 months ago
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There is a group that has been trying to raise funds to rebuild the main keep for years, but I do not think they will ever succeed. It's just my theory, but ...such a huge keep would look directly down into the imperial family's home territory. I think they would consider it a privacy and security risk which is why the government has probably never supported the cause.

http://npo-edojo.org/
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Anonymous user #1

80 months ago
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Heard that some group was raising money to rebuild the c

Keep of Edo-Jo. I looked it up, but my search was hampered by the fact that I don't speak Japanese. And about earthquakes, I beleive Aizu Wakamatsu-Jo is in a city that was Devastated by the earthquake-tsunami of march 2011, and while the city was ruins, Aizu-Wakamatsu-Jo was barely damaged. Japanese castles were, and still are,remarkably resiliant to earthquakes.
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UsagiAshigaru

83 months ago
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Passed daily on the way to work, always a luxurious sight. Visited regularly at lunchtime for a pleasant summer walk. Always activity, with improvements, excavations, and new signs on display to make return visits continually interesting.
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JcastleHatamoto

86 months ago
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Kris, Stamps should be located in the 3 rest areas inside the castle grounds: Kitanomaru, Wadakura and Nanko rest areas.
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Anonymous user #1

100 months ago
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If you get a chance... come in early April and join the throngs of Tokyo in gazing at the beautiful cherry trees in full blossom draping across the great stone escarpments. It is an amazing site!
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Anonymous user #1

117 months ago
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This castle is very interesting to go to. It is well worth seeing the huge walls. Also, at the time of its construction, it was the largest fortification in the world in terms of area.