Tourism - Okazaki Castle:

Okazaki Castle is the symbol of the city, and for many years played a central role in the town's life. These days it is the centrepiece of Okazaki Park, a massively popular spot for hanami parties under the cherry blossoms and the wisteria flowers each spring, and the focus of the Ieyasu Gyoretsu parade in April, the famous Okazaki Fireworks festival each August, and the Autumn Civic Festival (location: http://www.yamasa.cc/members/ocjs/Map.nsf/MapMain?OpenForm&39). The castle donjon is illuminated each night, and Okazaki simply wouldn't be the same without the pride the citizens take in the history of their castletown.

Castle Okazkaki Castle Okazkaki
The Castle tower and the gate to the castle ground
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The castle was originally built by the warrior Saigo Tsugiyori in 1452, with control passing to the rising Matsudaira family when Matsudaira Kiyoyasu (Tokugawa Ieyasu's grandfather) captured the castle in 1524. At that stage the castle would have been a wooden fort with defensive earthworks, and recent research suggests that the original site of the castle was in nearby Myodaiji, with Matsudaira Kiyoyasu moving the fort to its current location when he took control of the region, probably forcing the relocation of the Inasaki Jinja shrine - where rice grown for the ceremonies at Ise Jingu was stored.
Castle Okazkaki Castle Okazkaki
Shrine on the castle grounds and the moat around the castle
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Its strategic location alone would have made Okazaki castle important, but its real claim to fame is as the birthplace of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Although the castle fell into the control of the neighbouring Imagawa clan, from 1560 to 1590 Okazaki was the stronghold of Tokugawa Ieyasu, as he grew from being a historical footnote, to become the largest landholder in Japan. After he transferred his domains to the Kanto region in 1590, the new lord of the castle Tanaka Yoshimasa began to enlarge the precincts by adding the strong moats that we can see today. After the victory at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, control of the castle was given to Tokugawa loyalists such as Honda Yasunori, who in 1617 added the three level, five story donjon that dominated the city's skyline for the next 260 years. It was this donjon that can seen in photographs taken towards the end of the reign of the Tokugawa shogunate, and in the early Meiji period. Unfortunately, in 1873 the new Meiji government demolished the castle and sold many of the fittings for scrap. The castle had dominated Okazaki, the Tokaido, and the towns social, political and economic life for so long that it was greatly missed. For the people of Okazaki it had played an important role in their cultural life and identity as a joukamachi - a castle town.
Castle Okazkaki Castle Okazkaki Castle Okazkaki
Installations on and around the castle grounds
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In 1959, the donjon was rebuilt according to its original scale and design, and it is the donjon that most people consider to be the castle, although in its heyday the moats and ramparts were what gave the castle its strength. In addition, a gate and museum have been added. The museum details the life of the people during the period, although the balance of the rich collection of exhibits tends to be focused on the weaponry and the role played by Tokugawa Ieyasu and his warriors in ending the long period of civil war - this is after all a castle that amongst many other things, has a monument dedicated to the umbilical cord of the town's most famous son.
Castle Okazkaki Castle Okazkaki Castle Okazkaki
Clock with Tokugawa doing a Noh dance on the full hour, the flower clock and a fountain on the castle grounds
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The grounds of the castle are extensive. It includes Okazaki's Noh Theater (the oldest municipal Noh theater in Japan), a beautiful tea house (Kishoan), a shrine (did we mention that Tokugawa Ieyasu is also a deity?), and a beautiful park, especially when the cherry blossoms (late March/early April) and wisteria (late April/early May).
Castle Okazkaki Castle Okazkaki Castle Okazkaki
Fountain, Zen garden, Sakura on and around the castle grounds
(Click on any of the pictures to enlarge)

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