Images: Daniel O'Grady
脇坂氏1608 - 1617
加藤氏1617 - 1871
大洲城Ōzu Castle is classified as a hilltop castle (its layout: Teikakushiki), and is located in Ehime Prefecture. During the pre-modern age, it found itself within the borders of Iyo Province. It is associated with the Katō clan. Dates in use: 1331 - 1871.
Fortifications were first built in Ōzu in the 1300's. It wasn't until the Warring-states period (approx mid - late 1500's) that things really heated up with the loss of the castle to the Kono clan. Lordship of the castle would then change several more times before the castle and its environs became a domain in their own right in 1608. The structures of the castle managed to stay more-or-less intact throughout the Edo period. Turrets & gates were periodically restored here & there, but this can be considered to be a fairly standard practice.
Four lucky turrets have managed to escape being torn down following the decommissioning of the castle in the late 1800's. All four still stand to this day. Two turrets flank the main tower just as they did in the past, and the other two are located a very short distance from the main enclosure of the castle. All four turrets have received complete restorations.
There isn's a great deal of things on display within the main tower, but what is there is well presented, as are the buildings & grounds themselves. The staff are super friendly & helpful too.
Ōzu castle's main towerThere are several aspects about the main tower of Ōzu castle that set it apart from all others, the first being its four layers. This was due to the fact that the number four had come to represent death, perhaps due to their identical pronunciation. I guess when people were living on the knife's edge, they'd consider any advantage, even hocus pocus. Certainly this is no different in the West where the 13th floor of some buildings are omitted due to its apparent connection to bad luck.
The current main tower is a very recent reconstruction. In an highly irregular move, it was decided that it would be rebuilt 100% authentic & faithful to the original tower. This meant it would not comply with modern building standards.
|1331||The castle was built by Utsunomiya Toyofusa.|
|1568||The Kono & Mōri clan came together to defeat the Utsunomiya clan. Ono Naoshige, a samurai of the Kono clan, became lord.|
|1585||Toyotomi Hideyoshi's armies conquered the island of Shikoku and the province of Iyo including its castles were awarded to Kobayakawa Takakage.|
|1595||The Tōdō clan were stationed here.|
|1608||The Wakisaka clan were stationed here. During their reign, the whole castle was renovated & a four-layered main tower was built.|
|1617||The Kato clan were stationed here.|
|1722||The Sannomaru Minami Turret burnt down.|
|1766||The Sannomaru Minami Turret was reconstructed.|
|1859||The Daidokoro Turret was rebuilt.|
|1860||The Kōran Turret was reconstructed.|
|1872||The castle was abandoned.|
|1888||The main tower was torn down.|
|1953||The site became recognised as an Prefectural Historical site.|
|1957||The four remaining two-story turrets that had survived from the Edo period became recognised as Important Cultural Properties.|
|1959||The Owata Turret was restored and its base was raised 2.6 metres.|
|1965||The Minami Sumi Turret was restored.|
|1970||The Daidokoro & Kōran Turrets were restored.|
|2002||Reconstruction commenced on the four-story main tower.|
|2004||The main tower was completed.|
|Site||Prefectural Historic Site|
|Daidokoro Turret||Important Cultural Property|
|Kōran Turret||Important Cultural Property|
|Owata Turret||Important Cultural Property|
|San-no Maru Minami Turret||Important Cultural Property|