Okazaki Castle: Birthplace of Tokugawa Ieyasu

In the center of Aichi Prefecture is the old city, Okazaki. Known as the birthplace of Hatcho Miso, Okazaki is the home of Okazaki Castle, where the infamous warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu was born. 

 

Okazaki Castle

 

Okazaki: The Home of Ieyasu

 

Okazaki in Aichi Prefecture is really far from Osaka. Luckily, the super-fast special rapid service brought us there much quicker than we first imagined.  So, be sure you take the rapid service if you can! The castle is a bit far from JR Okazaki Station, so get off at Naka-Okazaki Station of Aichi Loop Railway or the Meitstsu Higashi Okazaki Station. 

statue of Tokugawa Ieyasu at Okazaki Station
The statue of Tokugawa Ieyasu at Okazaki Station. People in Aichi seem to adore him!

Okazaki was historically known as the 38th post town of Tokaido, and even today is a very thriving city in the center of Aichi Prefecture. 

Okazaki thrives on miso and is notably famous for hatcho miso, a unique red miso paste. Moreover, Aichi Prefecture is nationally famous for miso dishes such as misokatsu and miso nikomi udon

Takechiyo Street. Takechiyo was Ieyasu’s boyhood name.
remains of one of Okazaki Castle stonewalls near the Otogawa River.
Along the Otogawa River are the remains of one of Okazaki Castle stonewalls that was 400m long!
Iotemon. The main gate of Okazaki Castle

 

About Okazaki Castle

 

Okazaki Castle dates back to the 15th century when the Saigo clan built the castle in Muromachi Period. However, the Saigo clan was pushed out during Onin War, and Matsudaira Kiyoyasu, the grandfather of Tokugawa Ieyasu, took over.  

Tokugawa Ieyasu, a.k.a Takechiyo was born in Okazaki Castle in 1542. The Imagawa clan controlled Okazaki Castle at that time, but after Oda Nobunaga killed Imagawa in the Battle of Okehazama, Okazaki Castle became an independent castle.  

Before Tokugawa Ieyasu moved to Hamamatsu in 1590, Okazaki Castle was his main castle. Afterward, he moved to Hamamatsu, and his son, Nobuyasu, became the castle lord. Eventually, Tokugawa left the region to instate his government in Edo. At that point, he placed his subordinate, Tanaka Yoshimasa, in charge of this castle.

statue of Ieyasu after he lost in the Battle of Mikatagahara at Okazaki Castle.
The statue of Ieyasu after he lost in the Battle of Mikatagahara. He looks pretty bummed out.
Honda Tadakatsu. One of the Ieyasu’s best warriors. His spear, Tombogiri, is particularly famous.
The history museum was really satisfactory

Exploring the Castle Grounds

 

If you have enough time, you might want to explore the castle grounds, which were much more expansive than we’d thought.  There are many interesting things like castle walls and motes, so be sure to really take your time and be observant.  

The spring water used for Ieyasu’s first bath. Do not drink!
Takechiyo is sitting on the bench
Higashi Sumi Yagura. Very recently rebuilt.

Okazaki Castles still has several large intact stonewalls, but one of the most famous ones surrounds Seikaibori Mote.  

Seikaibori, named after Saigo Yoritsugu, a.k.a Seikai Nyudo, is a curved mote (like an arc) whereas normally motes usually consist of only straight lines.  Though we have indeed been to so many castles, this is the first time to see such a unique mote. 

Aside from Seikaibori Mote, there are many interesting stone walls in Okazaki Castle. Some of them are just so huge! 

Seikaibori Mote of Okazaki Castle.
Seikaibori Mote
The mote here must’ve been huge too!
Castle walls of Okazaki Castle
The stonewall around here is quite tall

Castle Keep

 

Finally, after taking our time to explore the castle grounds, we finally came to the castle’s keep. The keep was demolished in the Meiji Period, leaving behind only a lone stonewall. At last rebuilt in 1959, the current version of the castle keep reflects the one Tanaka Yoshimaza built during his time at the castle after Ieyasu left for Tokyo. 

Tatsuki Shrine at Okazaki Castle
Tatsuki Shrine is right next to the castle. It enshrines Ieaysu and Honda Tadakatsu.

The castle’s oldest stonewalls are those around the castle’s keep. There you can see the Nozurazumi style, which features a lot of large natural rocks. 

The inside of the castle is very museum-like and has a lot of information about Ieyasu and the castle itself. 

The oldest stonewall of Okazaki Castle
The stonewall around appears to be the oldest.
Castle Keep of Okazaki Castle
Front of the castle’s keep.
View of Okazaki City from the top of the Okazaki Castle.
View of Okazaki City from the top of the castle

Lastly, if you have time, check out the cityscape from the top of the castle! Since Okazaki is pretty wide and flat,  you can easily see the whole of Okazaki City. 

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