Sonobe Castle




Sonobejō has the distinction of being the last ever castle built in Japan! It was built in 1868, the same year as the Meiji Restoration, and thus, the year the Edo Shogunate ended. In the Bakamatsu Period (end of the Edo Period), the situation in Kyōto become very dangerous, with Shinsengumi (Shogunal police corps) engaging in street fights with anti-Shogunate revolutionaries. There were several skirmishes around the Imperial palace in Kyōto between Satsuma and Chōshū, at that time rival clans fighting for the influence over the Imperial Court. Chōshū advocated for continuing the Shogunate albeit with more influence from the throne, whereas Satsuma wanted to overthrow the Bakufu completely, re-installing the Emperor as sole sovereign of Japan. These forces, and the forces of the Shogunate, and various other revolutionaries, all fought over the Imperial Capital, making it a very dangerous place to be. Sonobejō was built as a place of refuge for the Emperor should he ever have to flee Kyōto. It was founded by the Koide Clan who had served as the Emperor's guards throughout the Edo Period.

Visit Notes

Sonobejō has three original structures intact, dating to the very end of the Edo Period. They are a gatehouse, guardhouse and turret on site. The Taiko Turret also survives, but has been relocated to the Anraku Temple. A modern "cultural hall" has been built nearby the castle. It is a castle-inspired structure but has a glass atrium built into the mock ramparts, so I think it's pretty absurd. Profile by ART, most photos by RonS.

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  • Tatsumi Yagura and Yaguramon
  • Yaguramon Gate
  • Tatsumi Yagura and Yaguramon
  • Tatsumi Yagura, Guardhouse, and Yaguramon Gate
  • Yaguramon Gate and Guardhouse
  • Tatsumi Yagura, Guardhouse, and Yaguramon Gate
  • Tatsumi Yagura
  • Tatsumi Yagura
  • Tatsumi Yagura and Yaguran Gate
  • Tatsumi Yagura and Yaguran Gate
  • Wall with loophole
  • Taiko Yagura
  • Taiko Yagura
  • Taiko Yagura
  • Site of the main Three Level Yagura
  • Map
  • Castle Inspired Structure on the Castle Grounds
  • This nearby school has been Mogified!
  • A marker for "Sonobe Castle" on google actually points here!
  • Jarring conconction of glass and fake ishigaki

Castle Profile
English Name Sonobe Castle
Japanese Name 園部城
Founder Koide Yoshichika
Year Founded 1868
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Designations Prefectural Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Features gates, turrets, stone walls, walls
Visitor Information
Access Sonobe Station on the San'in Main Line; 15 minute walk
Visitor Information Free
Time Required 30 minutes
Location Nantan, Kyoto
Coordinates 35° 6' 16.81" N, 135° 28' 12.50" E
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Added to Jcastle 2018
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed

(2 votes)
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13 months ago
Score 1++
Added co-ords


62 months ago
Score 2++
The Taiko Yagura (Drum Turret) is now on the grounds of Anraku-ji (安楽寺) which is in the neighboring town of Yagi.