This 16th Century Castle Was Destroyed and Rebuilt Three Times

Illustration for article titled This 16th Century Castle Was Destroyed and Rebuilt Three Times

For over 400 years, this castle perched on a hill in Japan has looked largely the same. It hasn’t always been the same castle, however. Here’s the story of how this castle just kept getting knocked down — and then coming back again.


io9’s comment of the day comes from commenter ro37 who shared this history of the terminably unlucky (but then lucky again) Osaka Castle, and how it came to be razed and then raised over and over again:

In the final phase of the Civil War, the Toyotomi Clan, centered on Osaka Castle battled with the Tokugawa Clan, centered on Edo (Modern Tokyo). In a series of 3 battles (Sekigahara, Winter - Osaka, Summer -Osaka) the Toyotomi Clan was totally defeated, and Edo became the center of Japanese politics to this day.

Among the most famous stories of this massive castle is the story of the most feared of Toyotomi Generals, Sanada Yukimura. His side outnumbered 3 to 1 (150,000 vs. 50,000), he led a crack unit of elite warriors all dressed in red laquered armor of 3500 and charged the center of the Tokuagawa army. The ferocity of his charge took the enemy by surprise, and the enemy center was pushed back further and further, until his soldiers flooded into the Tokugawa commander’s personal camp—Tokugawa Ieyasu was forced to flee for his life.

3 times, Sanada’s troops charged, but finally Yukimura, with most of his lieutenants dead or wounded and surrounded by enemies, offered his own head to an enemy soldier, stating “use it for your advancement.” Yukimura was beheaded, Osaka Castle was set afire.

The current castle is a reconstruction of a reconstruction of a reconstruction of a reconstruction. After the Toyotomi Castle was set afire, the Tokugawa faction constructed a new castle on its foundation. This newer castle was burned in 1868 during the civil war of the Meiji restoration. It was partially reconstructed in the following years, before being burned by American bombing raids in WWII.

Subsequently, the castle was rebuilt (again) finishing restoration in 1995, and today operates as a museum. The original foundation and several archaeological sites can be seen today by visitors to Osaka.

Image: Osaka castle / Midori