Wakayama Castle

By Billy Hammond



Toyotomi Hidenaga received orders from his elder brother, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, to construct Wakayama Castle in 1585. He started work on the castle, but never got to see its completion. His vassal, Kuwayama, received 30,000 koku* for castle construction in 1586 and spent 14 years building the main central portion ( honmaru ).

In 1600, after the Battle of Sekigahara, Kuwayama moved to Yamato and Asano Yoshinaga took over Wakayama Castle, receiving 376,000 koku. During Asano's 19 years of residence, he made many additions to the castle, including the ni no maru area which surrounds the central portion of Japanese castles.

In 1619, Asano was sent to what is today the western part of Hiroshima prefecture and Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu's 10th son, Tokugawa Yorinobu, was given charge of the castle with a stipend of 555,000 koku. Thereafter, Wakayama Castle became the residence of the Kii Tokugawas and served as a strategic point for the Shogunate's rule over West Japan.

The castle keep (tenshukaku) and much of the surroundings were destroyed in a fire caused by lightning in 1846. The Shogunate's restrictions on building castle keeps would normally have prevented its reconstruction; however, due to the close ties between the Kishu clan and the ruling Shogunate, an exemption was made and work to restore the keep was carried out and completed in 1850.

The use of the castle ended with the abolition of the clans in 1871 and it was first made available to the public as a park in 1901, with parts of the castle being designated as national architectural treasures in 1935. It was destroyed during World War II on July 9, 1945. It was rebuilt after the war and its opening ceremony was held in October of 1958.


Sitting atop of the mountain, whose name means "crouching tiger" due to its shape, this castle forms an impressive silhouette against the sky.

A climb up steep stone steps brings you to the entrance and after paying your admission fee (350 yen for adults and high school students, 170 yen for younger children at the time of this writing) you can enter the castle proper.

There are 3 levels and the top level presents a nice view of Wakayama city. The castle contains exhibits of yoroi (Japanese armour), calligraphy and a very interesting display of spears and spearheads. Most of the captions for the exhibits are in Japanese, so it would be wise to have a Japanese friend accompany you when you visit.

5.12 U.S. bushels = 1 koku of rice

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Copyright February 2001. Billy Hammond. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited. Efforts to present information as accurately as possible have been made, however, neither A.E.L.S. (TanuTech) nor Billy Hammond will take responsibility for errors found in this article.