Baba Yashiki




The Baba-yashiki was a fortified compound with dorui (earthen ramparts), moats and imposing gates protecting it. According to the family tradition of the Chikuma-Baba Clan, a residence was first built here by Baba Nobuharu sometime after Takeda Shingen captured Fukashijō (Matsumotojō) in 1550, or (perhaps more likely) by Baba Sukemasa sometime before his death in 1581. In the Edo period the clan served the lord of Takashima Domain in Suwa as part of that domain’s Chikuma exclaves. This territory in Uchida changed hands several times and the Baba’s allegiance may have changed along with their status throughout the Edo period. By the late Edo period at least the Baba family had special (pseudo-samurai) status accorded to them, likely as village headmen, as their yashiki was used as a place for the lord of the domain to stay. Commensurate with this honour, the Baba were allowed to erect a grand gatehouse with shachihoko (mythical tiger fish) ornamentation and mushmado (windows for guards). The main and middle gates were constructed in 1859, and the omoya (main residence hall) dates to 1851. The omoya is constructed in the vernacular style of Chikuma called honmune (‘central beam’) style, and includes the distinctive suzume-odori (‘dancing sparrow’) finial.

Visit Notes

Baba-yashiki is a wealthy farmer's residence from the late Edo period. Quite curiously the residence is fortified: it is surrounded by dorui (defensive embankments of piled earth) and the large gates on the property are also formidable. Whilst some more elaborate farmers' homes had gatehouses, the main gate at the Baba Residence has mushamado, windows flanking the entrance at which (likely armed) guards would've been stationed. This gate is a Nagayamon type doubles as a guard house. I wonder about the rooftiles used. The choice of hibi (roof ornamentation) would indicate a degree of status above farmer! Indeed the shachihoko (tiger-fish) motiff was found usually only on temples and castles (later they could be found on public buildings and in modern times private citizens sometimes put them on their houses too). Although not ostensibly a fort in itself, it turns out that the residence functioned as a sort of secret branch base for the Suwa Clan and Takashima Domain! Sometimes temples were also utilised in this way.

Original notes from 2019. History section updated in 2022 (ART).

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  • Nagayamon, 1859
  • Omoya, 1851
  • Dorui

Castle Profile
English Name Baba Yashiki
Japanese Name 馬場屋敷
Alternate Names Chikuma-Baba-yashiki
Founder Suwa Clan
Year Founded Edo Period
Castle Type Fortified Manor
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Designations has Important Cultural Properties, National Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Artifacts Gates, Nagayamon, Omoya, Dorui, Walls, Karabori
Features gates, palace, trenches, walls
Visitor Information
Access Murai Station on the Chūō Main Line; walk 40 minutes
Visitor Information 9:00 - 17:00, closed mondays and end of year holidays; 300 yen admission
Time Required two hours
Location Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture
Coordinates 36° 10' 2.42" N, 137° 59' 7.84" E
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Added to Jcastle 2019
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed

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24 months ago
Score 0++
Updated history, links and co-ordinates for photos.