Japanese Castle; Nishio Castle / 抹茶の町・西尾市のシンボル 西尾城

2013.06.02 [PLACES,WHAT'S NEW]

Japanese Castle; Nishio Castle / お茶の町・西尾市のシンボル 西尾城

Nishio Castle lies on the eastern plains of Aichi Prefecture in the center of Nishio city, a former
castle town now known for it’s textiles industry and for the manufacturing of metal casings.
Nishio Castle dates back to the 13th Century when it was known as Saijo Castle. Built by Ashikaga
Yoshiuji around 1221, it remained in the hands of the elite Ashikaga clan for a number of generations.




 (photo;  Honmaru Ushi Tora Yagura)


In 1561, General Sakai Masachika, a loyal vassal of the Tokugawa clan captured the fortress. This castle
was later handed over to his son, general Sakai Shigetada, who, on the orders of Tokugawa Ieyasu,
soon commenced works to expand and strengthen the fortress. By 1585, the castle had been almost
completely rebuilt. Sakai had overseen the enlargement of the castle grounds and stone walls, increasing
the defensive turrets and gates, and building a large, impressive keep. By 1590, Tanaka Yoshimasa had
been installed as the castellan, and further construction added the castles’ third citadel, including a number
of yagura watchtowers and gates. By this stage, Nishio Castle had become a most impressive stronghold.  



1561年、酒井正親(まさちか / 家康の祖父の代より松平・徳川に仕えていた人物)が、西尾城を攻め落として



During the Edo Period (1603-1868) Nishio was a prosperous castle town, and despite it’s relatively small
larea, was valued at 60,000 koku. (A koku was 278.3 litres, or 150 kilograms of rice, determined to be
the quantity required to feed a man for a year. Each fiefdom’s wealth and value was measured according
to the output of rice.) It was a commercial centre, famed for its production of not only rice, but tea too.


Like most Japanese castles, Nishi Castle was abandoned in the late 1800’s when the feudal period came
to an end, and the samurai caste disbanded. The castle was quietly and ingloriously dismantled during
the Meiji Period (1868-1912). Today, the water filled moats and stone walls can still be enjoyed, along
with some earthen embankments and other former fortifications of the castle. The main castle gate has
been well constructed providing the visitor with a fair idea of the size and scale of the Sengoku Jidai,
Civil War period castle. Although the main keep longer exists, the main central turret has also been
reconstructed. The castle’s garden contains a tea room where you can enjoy a simple tea ceremony.



In 1996 the Honmaru Ushi Tora Yagura, or Cow and Tiger Watchtower was re-constructed, along with
the main gate guarding the castle’s second citadel. The remaining parts of the castle can also be seen,
although it may be best to have some one guide you around the site to fully appreciate what remains.
An Edo period homestead, the Kyu Konoe tei has been relocated to the grounds, and seasonal treats and
Nishio’s famed tea is served. Enjoy the gardens and other attractions within the castle precincts.


Within Nishio city, a number of other historical sites including samurai houses remain from the era and
are well worth going to visit to see how the ruling warrior caste lived. Just a few minutes walk north
of the castle, a number of old houses line the roads invoking images of a long gone Japan.


The museum on the grounds below the castle like turret is free and quite interesting, as it features
a number of photographs and ancient maps and depictions of the original castle.


(Photo, Kyu Konoe Tei





A trip to Nishio Castle will take you to a fortress little visited by most Japanese, let alone foreign visitors.
For fans of Japanese history, castles and the samurai, it’s a must see!







 Address; 西尾市錦城町231番地1
     231-1, Kinjyo-cho, Nishio


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