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.
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.
|English Name||Sonobe Castle|
|Castle Condition||No main keep but other buildings|
|Designations||Prefectural Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Edo Period|
|Features||gates, turrets, stone walls, walls|
|Access||Sonobe Station on the San'in Main Line; 15 minute walk|
|Time Required||30 minutes|
|Coordinates||35° 6' 16.81" N, 135° 28' 12.50" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2018|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|