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Ocean Jigsaw Puzzle Piece Series - The Development of Castle Town in Japan during the Great Discovery [2021年05月14日(Fri)]

This blog post was originally uploaded in Japanese to OPRI's blog on 12 May 2021.

Recently, the growing attention of Japanese history could be found in newly produced English-speaking films and animation from subscription-based streaming services such as Netflix. Among them, “Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan” and “Yasuke – the African warrior who served under Oda Nobunaga” could present the fascinating stories of the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1603), while the overall development of this era that has contributed to castle towns, culture, and philosophy as the heritage of Japan till today.

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Photo 1. Namban Folding Screens (Kano School, 1570-1616) in The National Museum of Ancient Art of Portugal in Lisbon [Photo by the author]

The National Museum of Ancient Art of Portugal in Lisbon is one of the most visited museums in Portugal, with over 40,000 items spanning a vast collection of painting, sculpture, goldware, furniture, textiles, ceramics, and prints. Among them, the Namban Folding Screens (Photo 1) by Kano School of Azuchi-Momoyama period depicted in detail the arrival and unloading of the cargo of the Portuguese ship at Nagasaki harbor of Japan. The folding screens were the most vivid archives of the Golden Age of Japan for the vibrant interchange during the Great Discovery, as well as for the popularity of culture – Tea Ceremony, Noh, Kabuki all began to prosper to accommodate the social consolidation.

The Azuchi-Momoyama period also stood for the transition of the Japanese castle from its purpose of “defensive fort” into “luxury showcase” and later, “governance” in the Edo period (1600-1868). From the early feudal period of the 13th century, approximately 3000 castles were built all over Japan, but up to date in 2021, the remained sites, including the reconstructions, are about 200 (Photo 2). The scale of castle towns has also increased thanks to the evolving logistic system of river and sea transportation for commercial demands substantially, and more importantly, urban planning.

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Photo 2. The Iwakuni Castle (reconstructed), built on the top of the mountain in 1608 [Photo by the author]

In 1992, the Sevilla EXPO in memorial of Discovery of America 500th Anniversary was held in Spain. A must-see spot in the Japan pavilion is the replica of the 5-6 floor of Azuchi Castle, with the Kano School painting restored from its original. The Azuchi Castle was the very first castle built not for defensive purposes but for the display of fancy artistic and unprecedented castle construction. The most notable feature is that the stone base was made through a professional construction group – Anoshu through systematic allocation. Such a method was applied to all other well-known large-scale castles today, such as Osaka Castle, Nagoya Castle, Kumamoto Castle, etc.

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Photo 3. Azuchi Castle built by Oda Nobunaga, a castle of fantasy only existed for 3 years (1579-1582). [Photo by the author]
Left: The replica of 5-6 floors that displayed in 1992 Sevilla EXPO /
Right: 1/20 Model in Museum of Azuchi Castle

Another unique case is Nagoya Castle in Saga Prefecture (Photo 4), which Toyotomi Hideyoshi built with advance on Korean Peninsula and Mainland China. It is still imaginable for the thousands of naval troop gathering, whereas the site of the castle has become a museum with the regular exhibition of Korean, representing the peace and friendship nowadays.

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Photo 4. Site and the exhibition of Saga Prefectural Nagoya Castle Museum [Photo by the author]

Mr. Juan M Delgado-Moreira, former director of the Ministry of Education in Spain, indicated that it is “Cultural Citizenship” to tie up the nations and create a universal European Identity. The historical heritages are known for generating cultural identity that accelerates tourism, social and commercial influence. The castle towns in Japan are the harvest of the interaction in the Great Discovery. Despite the losses due to the political transition and war destruction, the experiences and strategies in cultural preservation and promotion for a friendlier historical heritage environment, which worth much greater academic attention and effort for further investigation on the holistic policymaking function and framework.

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Photo 5. The maintenance of Kurashiki Town and the new inauguration of Cat Master-Sanjunro of Bichu-Matsuyama Castle [Photo by the author]

Michael C. Huang
Research Fellow

Posted by OPRI at 17:00 | この記事のURL | コメント(0)
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