Osaka Prefecture was once home to a great many castles. Sadly, many of those castles fell long ago, leaving only commemorative markers behind. Currently, there are only three castles in Osaka Pref. Osaka Castle, Ikeda Castle, and Kishiwada Castle. Kishiwada Castle is the only castle in Osaka’s southern Senshu region, and is therefore naturally one of the region’s biggest icons. Apart from being the seat of political and military power in the Senshu region, the castle also played a role in one of the region’s most beloved traditions: danjiri festivals. It is fitting then that just outside of the castle grounds is the Kishiwada Danjiri Museum!
The History of Kishiwada Castle
The exact origins of the castle are rather hard to track down, but according castle records, in 1334 Wada Takaie [和田高家] of the Kusunoki clan built a castle in a place called “Kishi”. Because Kishi is governed by Wada, the name “Kishiwada” [岸和田] gradually evolved. If these records are true, then it is very likely that the castle was probably a very small and simple castle surrounded by a wall or small moat at that time.
Kishiwada Castle changed hands many times after the time of Wada Takaie. In the 16th century, Hideyoshi fought against the monks of Negoro-ji Temple in north Wakayama. The monks tried to attack Kishiwada Castle to expand their territory, but Hideyoshi managed to fend them off. After the battle in 1585, Koide Hidemasa [小出秀政], Hideyoshi’s uncle, became the lord of the castle. He then began to expand the castle—it was probably even bigger than the current castle. It was during this time that the town around the castle began to flourish as well.
In the early Edo Period, the castle passed in to the hands of the Okabe clan who continued to live in the castle till the end of the Meiji Period. They not only continued to expand and fortify the castle but also started Danjiri festivals and laid the foundations for Kishiwada to become the largest city in Senshu region.
Unfortunately, a fire in 1827 destroyed the castle. In 1954 generous donation from the citizens in Kishiwada made it possible to rebuild the castle. As a result, the castle may be a bit different from what it used to be, though moats and stone walls are from the original castle.
Though Kishiwada Castle is not as big as say, Osaka Castle, it still looks very cool.
When you walk around the castle, you will see a small strip of lawn around the stone wall of the castle. This is called inubashiri [犬走り], literally meaning a place only big enough for dogs to run. The presence of the inubashiri is very interesting because it makes it easier for enemies to enter the castle.
As a matter of fact, the purpose of the inubashiri is not well understood. The most likely reason probably has something to do with the fact that the rocks that make up the wall are rather fragile and need additional support. In any case, an inubashiri is quite a rare find in a Japanese castle.
Once you enter the castle, you will see the Hachijin no Niwa Garden, the theme of which is Zhuge Liang’s Eight Tactical Military Formation. The garden was made by the famous Shigemori Mirei.
Also, if you plan to go to the Danjiri Museum, you should buy a combined ticket here!
The inside of the castle is a museum that exhibits items related to Okabe clan. Even if historic stuff isn’t your cup of tea, you might find the various suits of samurai armor on display pretty cool. Once you reach the top floor, you will have a great view of Kishiwada City.
Information: Kishiwada Castle
Kishikicho 9-1, Kishiwada City, Osaka Prefecture
To get to Kishiwada Castle from Osaka City, take the Nankai Main Line Express or Limited Express from Namba Station for 30 minutes. You can get off at either Kishiwada or Takojizo Station. From either station, the castle is roughly a 15 minute walk.
10:00~17:00 (closed on Monday)