Hagi Castle

From Jcastle.info
Castle Properties
English Name Hagi Castle
Japanese Name 萩城
Alternate Names Shizuki-jo
Founder Mori Terumoto
Year Founded 1604
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Top 100 Castles, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Top 100 Mountaintop Castles, National Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period


Features gates, samurai homes, water moats, trenches, stone walls, walls, castle town
Visitor Information
Access Higashi Hagi Sta. (San'in Line), bus
Visitor Information 8:00-18:30 (Apr-Oct), 8:30-16:30 (Nov-Feb), 8:30-:18:00 (Mar). 210 yen
Time Required 180 mins, including the top of the mountain
Website http://www.hagishi.com/miru/
Location Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 25' 4", 131° 23' 0"
Admin Visits
Year Visited 2014
Visits November 21, 2014
Added 2007
Loading map...

Hagi2.jpg


History

After losing to Tokugawa at the Battle of Sekigahara, Mori Terumoto's lands around Hiroshima were confiscated. Tokugawa wanted to lock the Mori into a remote location on the Japan Sea so they commanded him to build his castle at Hagi. If you visit Hagi you'll see how far and difficult a place it is to get to. The Mori family continued to rule over Hagi until the Meiji restoration. In 1863, Mori Takachika moved the major government functions of the domain to Yamaguchi, because Hagi was too vulnerable to bombardment from the sea. From this point Hagi started losing it's importance and many of the castle buildings were dismantled. In the Meiji Restoration the main keep and the remainder of the buildings were destroyed.

The structure of Hagi Castle is actually very interesting and Mori built a brilliantly defensible little castle. Mt Shizuki is a small mountain right on the coast creating a small peninsula of land. The castle sits at the base of the mountain facing the land and occupies all the approachable land to the mountain. Stone walls and defensible positions on the coast prevent attack from the sea. The Honmaru, Ninomaru and Sannomaru baileys extend towards the land protecting the castle from a land invasion. The Sannomaru Bailey encloses much of the castle town which has numerous walled streets, narrow streets, T-junctions and dead ends to confuse and make it difficult for any attacker to reach the castle. A scattering of watchtowers, gates and strategically placed storehouses for weapons would have made any attack on Hagi very difficult indeed. At the top of the mountain is the Tsumenomaru, a fallback position in case of a siege. The Tsumenomaru itself is divided into two baileys ringed with stone walls and had multiple watchtowers. In the latter Edo Period a yagura partway up the mountain and a platform for cannon was also added to help protect it from the sea. Be sure to look at the <a href="http://www.jcastle.info/castle/zoom/86">map</a> to see how things are distributed around the castle and town.

Visit Notes

This was an amazing site to visit. Personally, I would include it as one of my favorites. The castle ruins themselves are much more extensive than most books give them credit for. There are many stone walls around the base of the mountain and some that go right up to the edge of the ocean. There are remnants of clay walls and the remains from splitting stones for the walls at both the top of the mountain and on the coast. The castle ruins are amazing enough, but the castle town really sets Hagi Castle apart from others. I've never seen another castle town that's so well preserved. There are several original samurai homes, gates, merchants homes, walls, storehouses, and more that make you feel like you've stepped back into the Edo Period. I only spent one day here (4 hrs at the castle ruins, including climbing the mountain) and 3 hours walking around the town, but I could easily spend two full days. I did not even visit the Hagi Museum. I did not have enough time on my first visit so I look forward to another visit in the future. I'm rating this four stars for the combination of the castle and castle town. I think I would recommend you to visit on a weekday if possible. Everywhere was fairly empty despite it being fall colors season but I saw a lot of bus parking and the crowd I saw the following day at Tsuwano on Saturday afternoon would probably pale compared to what Hagi could bring.

Also see this <a href="http://www.oidemase.or.jp/hagi_cg">interesting CG reconstruction</a> of the main keep at Hagi Castle

Japanese Notes

萩城は建造物がない割ににとても感動しました。私にとっては萩城は全国的にも最も面白いお城の一つです。城跡自体は多くの本に掲載されているより遺構が多いです。北矢倉付近の海岸沿いの石垣も特に面白かったです。寂れた土塀や崩壊した土塀も残っているのを見て城の元の姿を想像してしまいます。詰丸や海岸に残っている石切場を見るとこの美しい石垣を築くためにどれだけ大仕事だったのかも思わされます。城跡だけでも十分に感動しますが、萩城はどこよりも城下町もよく残されています。武家屋敷を始め、商人の家、矢倉、土塀などがあり、町を歩くと江戸時代にタイムスリップした感じがします。今回の城めぐりは1日(城跡4時間、城下町3時間)しかいられませんでしたが、城下町も全部見るのに二日間は必要です。萩博物館すら見る時間はありませんでした。今回は十分な時間がなかったのでまた訪れたいと思っています。城跡と城下町を両方考慮して四つ星にしました。

萩城の<a href="http://www.oidemase.or.jp/hagi_cg">CG再現</a>も是非見てください。

Loading map...

Gallery

... further results



2.50
(12 votes)
Add your comment
Jcastle.info welcomes all comments. If you do not want to be anonymous, register or log in. It is free.


avatar

PhibbyfanPeasant

28 months ago
Score 0++
I like World Heritage Sites, so I was keen to see exactly what was listed. Like you, I was surprised to see Hagi Castle and castle town as part of Hagi's sites. There is also a castle ruin that is within the \cultural landscape"of the Iwami Ginzan listing right near the mines (not yet on Jcastle). Although it's not an anticipated listing it should be added to your World Heritage category. Also Chihaya Castle is not linked from your Top 100 page"
avatar

JcastleHatamoto

28 months ago
Score 0++
Dregs, Phibbyfan, thanks of the follow-ups. There's been very little in Japanese news about the castle town part of Hagi being included. The intention is Meiji Period Industrial Sites. I wonder how they managed to squeak in the castle town which is certainly not Meiji Period even though it was certainly around then. IMHO it's a bit over reaching, like all of the recent additions from Japan. Anyway, it's good to see the site get some more recognition and hopefully they'll be able to preserve it better too. There are some old samurai houses that are not open to the public or well marked and also in need of repair. It's such a great place and there's even more they could do with it. When I asked someone why they didn't better preserve some of the old homes that are listed but not open, they said that the city was putting more efforts into the Bakumatsu and Meiji Period works and anything related to the NHK drama Hana Moyu. Hopefully other parts of the castle town will get more attention now too.
avatar

JcastleHatamoto

34 months ago
Score 0++
Ron, I think you're absolutely right. (If it's done historically correct of course!) Reconstruct the main keep and maybe the Otemon Gate. Also put up better signage and preserve what's there already and you'd have a really great castle museum park. Combined with the fabulous castle town it could be the \most complete"castle there is. The new NHK drama is focusing on the end of the Edo Period and I don't get the feeling the town values the castle ruins as much as the old Edo architecture so it doesn't seem like there will ever be such an interest to do it unfortunately. """
avatar

RonSAshigaru

35 months ago
Score 0++
I've always felt that Hagi Castle's tenshu was an excellent candidate for reconstruction. It has historical significance and the details of its structure are well documented. Or is the site better left as is? What do you think?
avatar

KrisGunshi

64 months ago
Score 0++
Hagi in the Summer was definitely a good choice; the castle site is surrounded by amazing beaches and the green leaves, blue ocean, and stone walls looked fantastic. Even though I have reputation for being slightly Choshu-girai, I'm not a Mouri fan, and the fact that a black spider bit me on the lip at the tenshukaku ruins, (possibly due to the first two facts), Hagi was completely worth seeing. A friend and I walked from the Hagi Bus centre, (taking a detour to see the statues and houses of hot dead men), through the castle town, to the North Gate. Then from there we walked through the castle town to the beach, and then to the site of the castle ruins. Although they promote bicycle rental, walking was a great idea because there was so much to see, so many old buildings you could enter, and it recreated the feel of a castle town better than many other places I have been to. The beach was what surprised me the most – I have island resort style photos that the Bakufu could use in a Choshu seibatsu summer campaign – well it's not often you get to see turquoise seas and ishigaki together. It was peaceful to wander around and beautiful to see.
avatar

Anonymous user #1

76 months ago
Score 0++
If ever any interest in this castle one should read `Tales of Otori` a fantasy novel about a not-quite-Japan but which takes place in Hagi and surrounding area. It`s a beauitful book about feudal Japan culture and the author has drawn a lot from the local history but made it her own. Anyway, inspried and in the area I visited the castle ruin and have to say despite not having a castle tower it is by far the most peaceful frounds I have ever been to. Furthermore, because the west coast of Japan is not as visited as the east, I almost had the whole place to myself! And if in Hagi, you must go a little bit north and visit Matsue Castle which is an original and one of the most atmospheric castles I have ever been to! Overall, a gorgeous area of Japan!
avatar

Anonymous user #1

80 months ago
Score 0++
I visited Hagi and it's castle in 2007. Hagi Castle was the demolished shortly after the Meiji restoration and on the site there is actually a black and white photograph of the castle in full glory before deconstruction. The grounds of the castle are quite large and well signposted in English. The old section of town has a river cum moat around it (beyond the moat around the castle) and the entire area seems constructed in such a way that they were ready for invasion (not surprising given the history). The Samurai quarter has well preserved buildings and sits close to the castle. While the ruins of the castle itself are interesting the preserved areas of town also give you a really good idea of what living in a joka-machi might have been like.