Japanese Castle Explorer

by Daniel O'Grady

       
Imjin War book cover Japanese Castles 1540-1640

Kōchi Castle

Images: Daniel O'Grady

高知藩

Kōchi Domain


山内氏
1601 – 1871

Yamauchi  Clan

266,000 Koku

高知城
Kōchi Castle is classified as a hilltop castle (its layout: Teikakushiki), and is located in Kōchi Prefecture. During the pre-modern age, it found itself within the borders of Tosa Province. It is associated with the Yamauchi clan. Dates in use: 1603 - 1871.

In addition to it being a fine Edo-period example of a Japanese castle, it remains unique for several reasons. First & foremost, every structure from the main enclosure has survived for over 250 years to the present day. Also, as the main tower was built during a time of peace, it was deemed acceptable that the lord's residence be attached to the base of the main tower. This is quite a departure from the traditional role of the main tower.

There is so much to see in & around the castle grounds. The scale isn't immense but there are 15 Edo period buildings & large gardens to explore. Around the city, there are some well-preserved samurai dwellings, guard houses & other historical buildings. There is also a small museum featuring items from the Yamauchi clan.

Timeline

1601 Yamauchi Kazutoyo was awarded the region. Initially he resided in Urado castle to the south, a short time later though Otsukasaka mountain was chosen for what would be Kōchi castle. The person in charge of construction was Dodo Echizen.
1603 All of the stonework & buildings in the main enclosure were completed including the main tower, the Tsume gate & Taiko turret. The mountain was renamed Kawanaka mountain.
1610 With the completion of the the outer defences, Kōchi castle was itself complete. The mountain was renamed Kōchi mountain.
1664 The main gate was reconstructed.
1690 The rebuilt main gate & some samurai quarters were burnt down.
1727 Most buildings, including the main tower & parts of the castle town were lost in a blaze.
1729 Selected rebuilding took place after the fire two years prior.
1746 Rebuilding of the main tower and several gates & gates started & were completed two years later.
1753 The outermost defences were completed, 25 years after they were burnt down.
1801 The main gate was repaired.
1846 A large-scale restoration of the castle took place.
1873 The castle was decommissioned.
1950 Fifteen buildings were awarded Important Cultural Property status.
1959 The site was awarded National Historical Site status.

Historical recognition

SiteNational Historic Site
Main TowerImportant Cultural Property
Kaitoku PalaceImportant Cultural Property
Nando StorehouseImportant Cultural Property
Kurogane GateImportant Cultural Property
Nishi Tamon TurretImportant Cultural Property
Higashi Tamon TurretImportant Cultural Property
Tsume GateImportant Cultural Property
Roka GateImportant Cultural Property
Oute GateImportant Cultural Property
Walls (x6)Important Cultural Properties