A Brief History of Castles The first castles that were built date back to more than 1400 years ago in the north of Kyushu and the eastern districts of Japan and would then be continued to be built until about the 17th century. In Japan there are two different races, the Yamato race and the Ainu race. The Ainu lived in the north and north-eastern districts and the Yamato lived in the other districts. Back in those days most of the battles in Japan were between the two races, and this caused castles to be built on the borders of their land. However, at the same time in North Kyushu there were some battles going on with other countries as well at the time. To begin with Japanese castles were more like fortresses that were built to protect their land from enemy attack or to provide safe military bases for invading soldiers.
The first castle in Japan was named Az uchi Castle and it was constructed in the style of the modern times and was built by order of Nobunaga Oda who was a powerful general in the Warring States period. It was during the age of civil wars when leaders started battles between each other in order to see who could claim the land first, and thus gain power and control over the whole country. A while after these castles had been built, people started to realise that the safest place to be if there was any conflict, would be close to a castle and this resulted in villages being built around most of the castles. The daimyo or lords were the ones that lived in the castles and employed the samurai to fight and protect them in battle. Castles had not only become homes but also became significant political centres.
Different types of castles There are three main types of Japanese castles: Mountaintop Castles These castles were built during the Ancient and Medieval Periods of Japanese history and were constructed on top of tall, somewhat inaccessible mountains. The function of such castles was to provide as a watchtower over the land and as a secure retreat for the daimyo in times of war. These mountaintop castles were used mostly during times of war as bases and remained unused during periods of peace. Flatland-Mountain Castles Instead of high mountains, these castles were built on small mountains or large hills with a good view of the surrounding countryside. They were constructed at these locations as a consequence of changing warfare strategies and changes in the needs of the daimyo. For example, the old method of individual fighting was replaced with the mass combat of troops.
It became essential for the rulers to conduct battles from the castles, in addition to running the government, managing growing armies and attending to the ever changing net of alliances. Being positioned at lower heights made it easier for troops to march out and meet head-on with the enemy. Even though the position of these castles was more suitable for such things, it also made them more susceptible to attacks and so forth. As a counterbalance to their weakness, the donjon (or main tower) of these castles were built higher than those of mountaintop castles, and a great deal of enhancements were made in their systems of defence.
For example, moats, walls and a variety of other means of reinforcement were enhanced and strengthened. Flatland Castles In 1615, at the beginning of the Edo period set off the development of the flatland castles. At this time a powerful samurai named Tokugawa Ieyasu introduced new laws that only allowed one castle in each district, and this essentially put an end to the age of the great civil war in Japan. This meant that castles were no longer needed for military uses and instead became political centres and stood as a symbol of the daimyo's wealth. The donjon of these castles then became bigger and more elaborate compared to the earlier castles.
As they were used for government use, the castles had to be easy to reach so they were usually built in open plains. However, due to their severe defenselessness, their walls and moats had to be built bigger and stronger. web.