5/18/2020

Edo Castle

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. Famous Places and Power spots of Edo 江戸の名所 .
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Edo-jō, Edo joo 江戸城 Edo Castle
Part 2

. Edo-jō 江戸城 Edo jo, Edo Castle .
The History of Edo Castle
Honmaru 本丸 the "Main Circle"
Ōoku 大奥 "great interior" women's quarters
Legends around Edo castle



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- source of the following articles : Tokyo Metropolitan Library -


What was inside the castle?
When considering Edo-period castles, many people imagine castle keeps (tenshukaku 天守閣).



In 1607 (Keichō 12), on the orders of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the initial keep of Edo Castle (called the Keichō Keep) was constructed on a scale that was far in excess of that of Osaka Castle, which had previously been constructed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The size of the Keichō Keep was designed to symbolize Tokugawa’s authority. Thus, at the time of its building it was the largest castle keep in Japan.

The castle keep was subsequently rebuilt on two occasions, firstly during the administration of Tokugawa Hidetada in 1623 (Genwa 9) and secondly during the administration of Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1638 (Kanei 15). Unfortunately, the keep was subsequently lost in 1657 (Meireki 3) to the so-called furisode kaiji (the kimono fire), which is better known to history as the Meireki no taika (The Great Fire of Meireki). Following this, the keep was not rebuilt and instead, greater emphasis was placed on reconstructing Edo. Indeed, it is said that reconstruction of the keep was halted in response to an opinion that "expending money on such a scenic site represented a waste." Later, the issue of reconstruction was again floated in 1712 (Shōtoku 2), however, reconstruction was not realized before the Tokugawa Shogunate ended.

Edo Castle is circled by an inner trench and consists of two parts: one is the residence of Tokugawa shōgun, while the other is that of the prospective Tokugawa shōgun. The former consists of three parts, such as "Honmaru", "Ninomaru", and "Sannomaru", while the latter consists of three parts, such as "Nishinomaru", "Fukiage", and "Kitanomaru". Outside of this interior trench, there were residences of local feudal lords and those of townspeople as well as temples and shrines, all of which are surrounded by the outer trench. These two make up the whole part of the Edo Castle. Tokugawa Ieyasu commissioned Edo Castle and the city of Edo and they were finished as a whole in 1636 (the 13th year of kan-ei era) at the time of Tokugawa Iemitsu. The city was burnt down several times and reconstructed, but the size itself remained unchanged throughout the Edo period.

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Ō-hiroma 大広間 and the dignity of the Shōgun

The Omote area of the palace contained the formal rooms Ō-hiroma, and Shiro Shoin and Kuro Shoin drawing rooms where a number of different ceremonies and events were held.
Closest to the entrance, the Ō-hiroma was made up of areas such as the upper chamber, middle chamber, lower chamber, second chamber, third chamber, fourth chamber, tatami-matted corridors, and planked verandas. The hall spanned over 50 meters from east to west, making it the largest room in the castle. The coffered ceilings of the upper, middle, and lower chambers looked like a grid sheet. Each level up to the upper chamber was higher than the ones before, as did the floors, and featured more splendid ornamentation. The partitions between rooms were adorned with those motifs considered most formal—pine trees and cranes—painted by artists of the highest standing, further enhancing the majesty and solemnity of the Ō-hiroma.

Important events were held in the Ō-hiroma, such as the New Year’s ceremony and audiences with foreigners. By viewing the Shōgun seated in the upper chamber from their seats assigned to his household status, each Daimyō inescapably recognized the master-servant relationships. The formal Ō-hiroma served as the ultimate stage set for exemplifying the dignity of the Shōgun.



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Shiro Shoin 白書院 and Kuro Shoin 黒書院

The Shiro Shoin (map)
consisted of five rooms—the upper chamber, lower chamber, Teikannoma (Chamber of the ancient Chinese emperors), Renganoma (renga no ma 連歌の間 Chamber of linked poems), and a Nandogamae (納戸構え closet style doorway) — which were encircled by a veranda.
The Teikannoma (Teika no ma 帝鑑の間) served as the antechamber for Daimyō from the oldest servant households of the Tokugawa household.
The upper chamber of the Shiro Shoin was decorated in the formal style of traditional Japanese architecture and was the second most formal room after the Ō-hiroma. The paintings on the walls depicted the normative deeds of famous Chinese emperors (teikan-zu).
The Shiro Shoin was used to meet with the Gosanke households (three households with direct kinship to the Tokugawa household) and others during celebrations such as the Five Festivals and New Year's holiday. Depending on the ceremony, it was sometimes used together with the Ō-hiroma. The courtyard in front of the Shiro Shoin was also used to showcase kemari (a type of ball game) and martial arts performances, which the Shōgun would view from the lower chamber.


Kemari, Illustrated by Yōshū Chikanobu

The Kuro Shoin (map)
was used for the most routine meetings within the Omote Front Palace, such as the ones known as the Tsukinami held on the 1st, 15th, and 28th day of each month with the Council of Elders and high-ranking Daimyō from the Gosanke households (three households with direct kinship to the Tokugawa household), the Kaga-Maeda household, and the Echizen-Matsudaira household. Special meetings between the Shōgun and various government officials were also held here.
The Kuro Shoin consisted four rooms surrounded by a veranda: the upper chamber, lower chamber, Saikonoma (Saiko no ma 西湖之間) (Chamber of Lake Sai), and Irorinoma (Irori no ma 囲炉裏之間) (Fireplace Chamber).
While other palaces were constructed of Japanese cypress, the Kuro Shoin was built from Japanese red pine. As reflected in its name, the Irorinoma contained a sunken fireplace (irori) in the center of the room.
Ink paintings of landscapes adorned the upper chamber, lower chamber, and Saikonoma of the Kuro Shoin, and the north face of the upper chamber featured a tokonoma (alcove) with tatami flooring and a set of staggered shelves. This room layout combined with the lack of a built-in table and storage area like those found in the Shiro Shoin tells us that the space was used for routine, everyday meetings.

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. tenshukaku 天守閣 castle tower, castle keep .

. kemari 蹴鞠 kickball game .

. irori 囲炉裏 / 居炉裏 / いろり open sunken hearth .


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- source : Tokyo Metropolitan Library -

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. Kaido 街道 Highways - ABC Index .

. Famous Places and Powerspots of Edo 江戸の名所 .

. Edo bakufu 江戸幕府 The Edo Government .

. Doing Business in Edo - 商売 - Introduction .

. shokunin 職人 craftsman, craftsmen, artisan, Handwerker .

. senryu, senryū 川柳 Senryu poems in Edo .

. Japanese Architecture - The Japanese Home .

. Interior Design - The Japanese Home .

. Legends and Tales from Japan 伝説 - Introduction .


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