Kakegawa Castle (掛川城 Kakegawa-jō) is a hilltop (hirayama-type) castle located in Kakegawa City in western Shizuoka Prefecture. Listed in the Top 100 Castles of Japan, it is considered to be one of the finest examples of reconstructed Japanese castles.


The castle was originally built in 1497 by Asahina Yasuhiro, a retainer of the Imagawa clan which ruled over Suruga Province, the central part of modern-day Shizuoka Prefecture. After Imagawa Yoshimoto (今川 義元, 1519-1560) was killed in the Battle of Okehazama in June 1560, his territories were divided between Takeda Shingen and Tokugawa Ieyasu. In 1568, the castle was handed over to the Tokugawa by Asahina Yasutomo. While some parts of Tōtōmi Province, where Kakegawa was located, remained contested between Takeda and Tokugawa, Ieyasu controlled the castle until the final defeat of the Takeda forces.

When Tokugawa Ieyasu had to trade his five western provinces for the eight provinces in Kantō taken from the Hōjō after their defeat in the Battle of Odawara in 1590, Kakegawa Castle was turned over to Yamauchi Kazutoyo (山内 一豊, 1545-1605), a retainer of Toyotomi. It was Kazutoyo who renovated and rebuilt the castle entirely. He also ordered the construction of the castle's first donjon (天守閣 tenshūkaku) which was completed in 1596.

With the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1600, the Yamauchi clan was appointed daimyō of Kōchi in Shikoku, and as many as 26 fudai daimyō, among them the Matsudaira, the Ogasawara and the Ota, ruled over Kakegawa until 1869.

The castle was destroyed by earthquakes several times: the first time in 1604 (the main keep was reconstructed in 1621); and more extensively in the Ansei Tōkai Earthquake of 1854. A lot of buildings were renovated in 1861 and used for administrative purposes, but when the keep finally collapsed in 1869 it was not rebuilt any more.

The Ninomaru Goten (二の丸御殿), the daimyō's residence, was reconstructed by Ota Sukekatsu after the earthquake of 1854. After the Meiji Restoration and the abolishment of the feudal domains the palace was appropriated by a girls' school, the city hall, the fire station and other municipal institutions.

In 1980, the Ninomaru Goten was designated an Important Cultural Property.


In 1994, the renovation of the innermost bailey (honmaru) and the donjon was completed, relying on original drawings dating from the years 1644 to 1647, the so-called shōho-shiro-ezu (正保城絵図), illustrations of the castle accurate to the minutest detail which all daimyō had to submit to the shogunate.

The tenshūkaku was built entirely of wood, resorting to traditional construction methods. In 1995, the main gate was rebuilt. It is worth mentioning that the lion's share of the construction costs of 1 bn JPY was raised through public donations.

The main keep

The main keep is about 20 meters tall and has four floors, although from the outside only three storeys are visible. The tower measures 12x10 meters but appears to be larger thanks to wings built into the eastern and western sides of the ground floor and a yagura (櫓), a small watchtower, adjacent to its entrance.

It is said that Yamauchi Kazutoyo modelled the main keep of his castle in Kōchi after Kakegawa, so the reconstruction of the donjon was based on Kōchi Castle, while other historians stated that the Jurakudai (聚楽第), Toyotomi Hideyoshi's former residence in Kyōto, and Osaka Castle might have been of influence.

The Palace

The Ninomaru Goten was built in the late Edo Period and served not only as a storehouse for weapons and other goods but also as the daimyō's official residence. In that sense, the palace at Kakegawa Castle is similar in function to Nijō Castle in Kyōto which was also situated within the castle walls, a rare feat in Japanese castles.

Consisting of twenty tatami-covered rooms separated by fusuma (襖, paper walls), the residence is held in the shoin-zukuri (書院造) style typical for the Azuchi-Momoyama (1568-1600) and Edo periods (1600-1868). The building comprised of three sections, the most important of which was the shoin-tō (書院棟) where official ceremonies were held. Visitors waited for their audiences in the san-no-ma (三野間), while the lord received them in the tsugi-no-ma (次野間). Higher-ranking visitors were permitted to the goshoin-kami-no-ma (御書院上の間).

The koshoin-tō (小書院棟) was the daimyō's actual residence, consisting of his office (小書院 koshoin) and his living quarters (長囲炉裏の間 nagairori-no-ma). The third and eastern part were administrative offices and archives.

Visiting hours and admission:

Admission: 410 JPY for adults, 150 JPY for elementary and junior-high-school students; discounts available for groups of over 20 people.

Opening hours: from February to October daily from 09:00 to 17:00 (access to the castle until 16:30); from November to January daily from 09:00 to 16:30 (access until 16:00).

Location and access:

Kakegawa can be reached on the Tōkaidō Shinkansen, the Tōkaidō Main Line, and the Tenryū-Hamanako Railway. On the Kodama Shinkansen, it takes less than two hours from Tokyo and about one hour from Nagoya. The castle is a 15-minute walk from the station.

Kakegawa can be reached by car via Tomei Expressway (exit at Kakegawa Interchange). The Otemon Parking is closest to the castle.

Address: 1138-24 Kakegawa, Shizuoka 436-0079; phone: 0537-221146, fax: 0537-231099

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