Hello from Ichiro.
I had a chance to visit Matsue (Shimane prefecture), so I stopped at Matsue jo castle on the way.
Matsue jo castle tower is one of the twelve castle tower left as they were originally. Osaka jo castle is famous and very popular- the castel has been rebuilt with modern facilities and is quite convenient as a sightseeing place but seeing the original building as Matsue jo where you can actually go in and touch is more exciting!
It was amazing-to see the real building made 381 years ago (the castle was built in 1634)in person. It was thrilling to see the wooden structure and the stone wall.
There is even a well in the basement. For defensive strategy of entrenching themselves in their castle at that time, clean water was enevitable- the well was 24 meters deep. I was amazed by there sedulous preparation. They could
ensure the drinking water supply by their careful thought.
The pillars, stairs and the floor- all the part was made to be robust and also looked so tasteful due to the age. The thick pillar was covered with wooden panel to reinforce and iron rivet was added.
I could see the fruit of the people's knowldge to win the war from that time here and there in that castle.
I noticed the sign-it says this castle was supposed to become demolition in the beginning of Meiji period. In the middle of revolutionary time (the change from feudal system to the new age, there was `Haihan chiken' ---abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures, and there was that tide of moving to a new world, and destructing old things like castles.
People thought this Matsue castle also should be destructed (except iron to be recycled) and they decided to put the castle out to the tender. In that crisis, one of a clansman and a wealthy farmer of Matsue saved the castle by paying 180yen
with their entreaties. That amount is only 1200000 yen(approx US $12000) at present.
The value of this great castle is only that amount? It might have been natural because they only wanted iron and the destruction must have costed so much.
This low value proves the people at that time did not think this castle meant a lot and had so much value.
When the new wave comes, people tend to move forward, leaving old things behind or replacing old things but finding there were a few people who thought this should have been preserved made me relieved. I was impressed one of the few people was not a samurai but just a farmer. They probably were excited and hoped for the bright new time would come but at the same time they believed this castle should not have been destroyed. They did not get any merit or money at that time but they knew this building should become impeccable treasure after hundreds of years.
The city of Matsue must have been so different without this charming castle. More and more tourists from abroad are visiting Matsue now.
I am hoping to start Kimono Archive Website project (leaving the degital deta of antique and vintage kimono) and cannot help praying this project will become a meaningful thing in future, just as the existence of Matsue castle.