Matsumoto Castle in History (1～6)
1. Located at an Auspicious Spot
Matsumoto Castle stands majestically amid the City of Matsumoto, situated 600 meters above sea level near the center of the Matsumoto Basin, and with a background of the 3,000-meter-high Japan Alps, which extends westerly.
One of two old names of this town, Fuchu (provincial government) and Fukashi (basin) was taken as the name of a fort when it was constructed at this spot by a samurai in the early 16th century. The spot is said to have been selected especially because it was believed upon divination that the spot was auspicious and prosperously blessed by shijin (the four guardian animals: the tortoise, dragon, sparrow, and tiger). The Fukashi Castle was renamed by Ogasawara Sadayoshi in 1582.
The photograph portrays a panoramic view of the Main Donjon of Matsumoto Castle, a designated National Treasure, and the surroundings, as seen from the roof of Matsumoto City Hall during the early summer.
2. Fortresses before the 16th Century
Matsumoto Castle was constructed at the end of the 16th century, but there were many forts built in this area before that time. The remains of several of these still exist today on hilltops and flat land.
The site of Igawa Castle was a part of the flat land castle built in the mid-14th century by Ogasawara Sadamune (1291-1347), then Provincial Constable of Shinano (Shinsyu). The remain could have possibly been used to light a signal fire. The hilltop castle named Hayashi, the site of which is shown here, is said to have been built at around the end of the 15th century by Ogasawara Kiyomune, a direct descendant from Sadamune. In those days, from place to place, hilltop forts made up a group to protect the lord's residence located at the foot of the hill and his territory.
3. Construction of the Main Donjon Complex
Ishikawa Kazumasa (ca. 154O-1592), who by the order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598), the unifier of Japan, became the lord of Matsumoto Castle and domain in 1590, and immediately began preparation for rebuilding of the castle, But Kazumasa died before the work began only having accomplished the construction of a mansion near the castle, The construction was left to his eldest son, Yasunaga entitled Gemba, who completed the Main Donjon (Tenshu), the North Donjonet (Inui-no Ko-tenshu) and the Corridor (Watari-yagura) as a complex.
Here is an imaginary depicition of the way the donjon complex might have appeared while under construction, On top of the stone wall the wooden frames of the castle were completed, and the roofs have been thatched with planks. After this, black burnt tiles were placed upon the roofs and the walls were mudded. The lord of the castle, Ishikawa Yasunaga, wearing a jacket displaying his family crest of the gentian flower, is inspecting the construction.
4. The Successive Lords of Matsumoto Castle
During the approximately 280 years from the time that Matsumoto Castle became an early modern style fortress A 1590, until 1869, when the feudal system was abolished as the result of the Meiji Restoration, the castle was ruled by twenty-three lords of Matsumoto, representing six different daimyo families. Indicated in the parentheses is mangoku(i.e. , about 50,000 bushels; man means 10,000 ; koku is a unit for measuring rice), which was the minimum rice yield required of the domain of the feudal lord for him to be classified as a daimyo. And the largest daimyo was Maeda whose rice yield was over 100 mangoku. The number of mangoku respectively indicates the scale of a feudal lord's domain.
5. The Samurai Residence Quarter
The magnificent gate in front, which was the main entrance to the Citadel, was called Otemon, or Ichi-no-mon, with a square courtyard and a smaller gate called Ni-no-mon. Such a double-gated square is known as masugata.
Each of the enclosures of the Citadel, surrounded by moats, was referred to as maru, or circle. The enclosure inside this Otemon was San-no-maru, or the Third Circle. Both sides of the wide street leading northward to the inner circles, with a length of 220 meters, were occupied with the residences of important retainers serving the lord, each bearing a tenement-house style gate, main and detached houses and the garden, within the plot ranging from 2,000 to 3,000 square meters in area.
Minor samurai including footmen were living outside the Citadel.
6. Land Survey and the Peasants
During the Edo Period, the amount of nengu, or annual land tax levied by a feudal lord upon the peasants, depended on the size of the land which the peasants famed and the ability of that land to yield crops. Accordingly, the job known as kenchi, which primarily had to do with surverying an arable lands and determining their yield (counting the amount by converting to that of rice) was an extremely important one.
The result of the general land survey conducted by Mizuno Tadamoto around 1650 was maintained up to 1871 as the standard basis of taxation in Matsumoto domain. Different from other domains, Tadamoto issued a brief note called kocho, to each individual land holder. The note indicated individual's assignment for annual tax. A large-scale peasant uprising occurred in 1686 when Mizuno Tadanao's regents levied an unreasonable tax.
Special kenchi was also conducted at times of dispute over land boundaries. The illustrations taken from a local record depict a kenchi conducted h 1834 for disputes in one of the territories under the direct control of the Shogn and placed in the custody of Toda Mitsutsura, Lord of Matsumoto.