Takada Castle (Niigata)

From Jcastle.info



Takada Castle was built by Matsudaira Tadateru, the sixth son of Tokugawa Ieyasu. This was one of the 天下普請 (tenka fushin - Tokugawa public works) projects. Thirteen regional lords completed the castle in only four months. The layout and construction was actually directed by Tadateru's father-in-law, Date Masamune. The main keep was a 3 level yagura, that looked similar to the Fujimi Yagura of Edo Castle. The castle makes use of two nearby rivers to act as moats. The castle is a flatland castle, built on a fairly large scale, but it never had any stone walls. A large, flatland castle from this time should have had stone walls and foundations. There are several theories that they were not built to save time and expense, there were no suitable stones in the area, the ground is too soft, and that higher earthen embankments and wider moats provided a better defense. In the Meiji Period the moats were largely filled in and the earthen embankments flattened to make a suitable military base.

Visit Notes

If you go to Kasugayama Castle, Takada Castle is also a must. It is just one stop away by train. I recommend visiting between late fall and early spring before the leaves on the trees obscure the main keep. There is always a debate about letting trees and shrubs grow on castle grounds, but I really think they need to trim these trees more.

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Castle Profile
English Name Takada Castle (Niigata)
Japanese Name 高田城
Founder Matsudaira Tadateru
Year Founded 1614
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition Reconstructed main keep
Designations Next 100 Castles, Prefectural Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Main Keep Structure 3 levels, 3 stories
Year Reconstructed 1993 (steel, wood)
Features bridges, water moats, stone walls, walls
Visitor Information
Access Takada Sta. (Shin'etsu Line); 20 min walk
Visitor Information
Time Required
Website http://www.city.joetsu.niigata.jp/site/kanko/kankou-shisetu-jo-03.html
Location Joetsu, Niigata Prefecture
Coordinates 37° 6' 35.57" N, 138° 15' 21.38" E
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Added to Jcastle 2011
Admin Year Visited 2011
Admin Visits October 10, 2011

(14 votes)
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42 months ago
Score 1++

The Shogunate ordered Takadajō constructed in 1614. As such, local lords had to help build it - 13 in all, including Uesugi Kagekatsu, Lord of Yonezawajō, and Maeda Toshitsune, Lord of Kanazawajō, probably because, as well as being somewhat nearby, they had the resources to spare and the Shogunate thought it prudent to tax them somehow. The castle, a hirajiro (flatland castle), was built in the middle of a bend of the Seki River on the Bodaigahara (a plain). The castle was built for Matsudaira Tadateru who was the sixth son of Tokugawa Ieyasu, born to Ieyasu's concubine Lady Chā. He married Iroha-hime, the first daughter of Date Masamune. Date Masamune headed the construction of Takadajō. The castle was built without ishigaki (stone ramparts) nor a tenshu (main keep) at the center of the honmaru (main bailey). Instead a sangai-yagura, three-storey corner turret, became the tenshukaku (donjon). For an Edo Period plainsland castle of this size, the lack of ishigaki is conspicuous. There were several reasons for this and it is not clear which predominated in the decision making process. It may have been that Takadajō was constructed cheaply to conserve resources for the war against Toyotomi Hideyori in Ōsaka, that the quality of the stones in the area was poor, and that the castle's designers considered that higher dorui (earthen embankments) and wider mizubori (moats) would make a better defence.

Major Events:

1665: Takadajō was damaged by an earthquake. 1751: Takadajō was damaged by an earthquake. 1802: The Go'ten (castle palace) burns down.

List of Daimyō and their holdings:

1614: Matsudaira Tadateru - 600,000石 1616: Sakai Ietsugu - 100,000石 1619: Matsudaira Tadamasa - 250,000石 1624: Matsudaira Mitsunaga - 260,000石 1681-1685: No lord. Domain temporarily abolished. 1685: Inaba Masamichi - 102,000石 1701: Toda Tadazane - 67,000石 1710: Matsudaira Sadashige - 110,000石 1741-1868: Sakakibara Clan, starting with Sakakibara Masanaga and ending with Sakakibara Masataka - 150,000石

  • 石 = koku こく

Later History:

In the Mieji Period surviving structures were abandoned and eventually collapsed or were lost to fire. The Imperial Army moved into the castle and filled in parts of the moat, including all of the western outer moat, and they also demolished parts of the dorui to expand the width of the entrance to the castle. Today the remaining outer moat is a large lily paddy and the castle grounds are occupied by educational facilities. In 1991 the 3-tier tenshukaku was reconstructed with exemplary historical accuracy. The reconstructed keep is a look-out and small museum.


54 months ago
Score 0++
Lit up at night for Hanami. A pretty good way to finish the day after visiting Kasugayama.


59 months ago
Score 0++
Although it's less common, we do call some castles by the name of the lords who oversaw them, but castles were typically named after the place they are located. Many castles had multiple names and many we really don't even know the name of so they have been named after the modern day place name where they exist. I also wouldn't want to guess an etymology purely on kanji alone, There are many reasons specific characters may have been used in a name.


59 months ago
Score 0++
Hello Eduardo, to my knowledge no japanese castles have the name of its builder. Most of them have the name of the city where they are, or the name of the site or a feauture where they stand(mountain, hill, plain, river...) In this case Takada means high(taka) rice field(ta). Eric, or someone else, correct me if i'm wrong.

Kiddus i2003Gunshi

66 months ago
Score 0++
Another I had missed previously, Sakura were out and the place had a fresh cover of green it was worth the detour.


74 months ago
Score 0++
It`s small, and newly built which makes it very beautiful but not very interesting if you want to see a more historic castle. It has a very stunning location though. The best times to come visit are Spring during the Hanabi season (the park is full of food stalls also during this season) and in July during the time when the Lotus flowers are in bloom. It`s beautiful to stand on the red bridge and look out over the river of flowers and see Myoko Mountain in the distance. In the winter they also have a Takada Castle light up in the snow. Takada Park is my favourite place in Joetsu.


90 months ago
Score 0++
I visited this castle this morning. Apart from the reconstructed tower, there is not much to see. Around the grounds were big panels in japanese and english explaining some parts of the castle. The museum in the castle is small and everything is in japanese. There is only one armor. The park around the castle is lovely and vast in japanese standards. I really enjoyed walking around.


118 months ago
Score 0++
I do agree that it`s hard to take a good photo of the keep in Summer, which is a shame because it is a really nice reconstruction inside and out. I went here in late September; perhaps cherry blossoms, autumn leaves or winter snow might help make the trees seem less of a problem. I can't say about the afternoon either; I went in the morning when it was raining. Still, this is one of those buildings that seems to shine in the rain; that and the greenery made it very pretty. The view from the top floor out onto the causeway reminded me of Okayama`s Korakuen view a little and the scenic walk over the bright red bridge and along the side of a moat brimming full of lotus leaves was lovely. The museum inside was much like any other but they did have a Meiji Era print ranking castles of Japan like in a sumo tournament that was fascinating to compare to how most people rank Japanese castles now. Preparations seem to be under way for a 400th year celebration; in any case I supported them by buying a 400 years of Takada Castle hand towel. It is easy to get to this site, there are minimal English explanations, and if you are in the area it is worth seeing. You can get the bus from Takada to the base of Kasugayama, the information office at the station was very helpful in how and where; they also sold Uesugi `salt to give to your enemy` salt, which I think was my favourite souvenir of the trip