|English Name||Ne Castle|
|Castle Condition||No main keep but other buildings|
|Designations||Top 100 Castles, National Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Access||Hachinohe Sta. (Tohoku Main Line), 15 min bus, 5 min walk|
|Location||Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture|
|Coordinates||40° 30' 22", 141° 27' 38"|
|Visits||May 21, 2010|
Moroyuki Nanbu built Ne Castle in 1334 during the period known as the Northern & Southern Courts Period. Under allegiance to the Southern Court, Nanbu established Ne Castle to become the center of imperial government in the area. Another branch of the same Nanbu family actually ruled the Sannohe and Morioka area for the Northern Court at the same time. In 1393 at the end of this Northern & Southen Courts period, the 2 families also made peace with each other. During the Sengoku Period, the 18th generation Nanbu (Masayuki Nanbu) was a daimyo loyal to Toyotomi HIdeyoshi. After the Battle of Odawara, Masayuki was made a retainer of Nobunao Nanbu from Sannohe. In 1627, Nanbu Naoyoshi was moved to Tohno (Iwate Pref.) and the Nanbu lord from Sannohe moved to Hachinohe where he established a new castle, Hachinohe Castle, to the East of Ne Castle closer to the ocean.
In the picture above, notice how the path splits after the bridge and goes to two different gates. The path on the left is covered with white gravel and goes to a more ornate gate. This gate was used for the lord and guests. The path on the right is a simple dirt path that leads to a simple gate of swinging doors (heijuumon). This gate was for servants and workers.
The reconstructed buildings at Ne Castle are really fantastic. They were all done using original materials and techniques. Archeological excavations uncovered the locations for the pillars and walls of each building and found enough artifacts to understand the function of each building. What we don't know for sure is how each building was made so the park has reconstructed a variety of different building types and roof types to be representative of the architectures at that time. The signs are all in Japanese but they often have very good illustrations that help you understand without the explanation. If you can speak even some Japanese, ask one of the volunteer guides at the gate to go with you. They are a wealth of knowledge about the history of the castle, the excavations, and trivia about the different building techniques and types. I spent well over 2 hours visiting the site and chatting with a couple of the guides. Ne Castle is highly recommended for history, castle or architecture fans. Ne Castle is from the time period before the flourishing of castle construction so it is a little bit different from what you might expect. There are still gates, baileys, and watchtowers, but there is no main keep, little or not stonework, and the walls are wooden posts fences on the outside and slat wood walls in the central compound. Hachinohe City is also (until 2011) the final stop on the Tohoku Shinkansen.