Hagi Castle

From Jcastle.info



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


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。

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  • main keep foundation, moat, stone walls
  • Minamimon Gate (South Gate)
  • Minamimon Gate (South Gate)
  • Stone wall to the left of the Honmaru Gate
  • Mushabashiri in the stone wall
  • Main keep foundation
  • Honmaru gangi
  • The top of the main keep foundation
  • View of the moat and stone walls form the main keep
  • Moats viewed form the West Gate
  • Looking towards the main keep foundation
  • Ruins of a wall at the Hakken Yagura
  • Main keep foundation
  • Mushabashiri
  • Inner moat
  • Stone walls between the Honmaru Gate and the Tsukimi Yagura.
  • Wall remnants
  • Wall remnant
  • Wall remains
  • Kia Yagura stone walls
  • North Yagura stone foundation
  • Stone marked for splitting
  • Large stone with ya-ana
  • Shioiri Gate ruins
  • Stone walls by the ocean.
  • Stone walls and clay walls near the ocean
  • Ninomaru Shikirimon Gate
  • mushabashiri to the top of the sea wall.
  • East Gate
  • Map of the Tsumenomaru
  • Entrance to the Tsumenomaru
  • Entrance to the Tumemaru
  • Back side of the entrance clay wall
  • Ninomaru bailey of the Tsumenomaru
  • large stones with wedge holes
  • Yaguramon Gate
  • Steps to the Honmaru
  • View of the Yaguramon Gate and the Ninomaru Bailey
  • View of the Yaguramon Gate
  • Large boulder marked for splitting
  • Closer view of the huge stone with wedge holes
  • Marks from slitting the stones many times
  • Stone wall around the Tsumenomaru
  • Stone wall around the Tsumenomaru.
  • Uzumimon Gate of the Honmaru
  • Stone with wedge holes for splitting
  • Asa Mori Clan residence
  • Asa Mori Clan residence
  • Inside one of the apartments
  • A model of the castle found in the Asa Mori residence.
  • castle town road
  • castle town corner
  • Castle town walls
  • Kodama Clan residence Nagayamon
  • Kodama Clan residence Nagayamon
  • Maki Moku's Residence
  • Hagi Museum Walls and Nagayamon
  • Corner yagura at the Hagi Museum
  • Masuda Clan Residence Watch Tower
  • Hanzawa Clan Residence Nagayamon Gate
  • North Gate
  • North Gate
  • Kikuya Clan residence.
  • Kido Takayoshi's residence
  • Saeki Tange Residence
  • Map
  • The main house is on the left and the Front Gate is on the right.
  • Inside the house
  • House and garden
  • Omotemon, a Nagayamon type gate

Castle Profile
English Name Hagi Castle
Japanese Name 萩城
Alternate Names Shizuki-jo
Founder Mori Terumoto
Year Founded 1604
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
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' 3.61" N, 131° 23' 0.38" E
Loading map...
Added to Jcastle 2007
Admin Year Visited 2014
Admin Visits November 21, 2014
Nearby Samurai Homes
(13 votes)
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77 months ago
Score 4++

Visited 15 Nov 2016. Hagi was a day trip out of Yamaguchi, and I took the slow route (by train) - needless to say, I ended up rushing things far more than I'd have liked. Didn't manage to see much more than the graves of the local lords and a sliver of the castle ruins, but what little I saw was impressive enough. Marking this one as a priority for a future return visit, and I'll be sure to hit the samurai district next time.



106 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"


106 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.


113 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. """


113 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?

Anonymous user #1

143 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.