Ako castle in the springtime

I’ve been playing with a new camera lately, rather than just relying on my phone for pictures (Thanks Jim!). Here are some recent shots from around Ako castle.

Ako castle is more of a castle ruin, or partially completed castle than a full castle. The outer and inner walls, along with two sets of moats are there, as well as massive fortified gates. But there is no “keep” or inner tower to house those seeking protection within the walls. I have read conflicting reports of whether there ever was one, but as far as I can tell only the foundation was built which you can see part of in the photo above. It was built in the beginning of the Edo period, after central authority was established under the shogunate in Edo (modern Tokyo). During this time, local lords, such as those ruling in Ako, were more like provincial governors and less like the warlords they had previously been. Japan was at peace after a many centuries of internal warfare requiring castles, and samurai for local security. Castles were no longer needed, in other words by the time Ako castle was built.

The ruling Asano family did live in a smaller palace inside, but their dwelling was destroyed after the so-called “Ako incident” when, following a conflict in the court in Edo, Asano lost his right to rule Ako. But that is another story.

Gardens were built, of course, and are still maintained so the castle is more like a quiet park where you can come and watch turtles swimming in the moats…

or watch the many cherry trees bloom in the springtime.