Ruins of Yokoku castle
1601, the 1st domain head of Hiji, Kinoshita Nobutoshi established the Yokoku castle when he moved from Himeji domain (one area of Hyogo, close to Osaka) and the castle was completed the following year. The design of this castle was done by Hosokawa Tadaoki who was Nobutoshi's brother-in-law and the domain head of Nakatsu (present northern city of Oita).
castle only had 3 tier donjons and the main tower was not big, however, it is said that it was very beautiful castle which was harmonious with the environment. Today, only its stone wall remains but you can still see the Sumiyagura * which was built in the direction of Kimon*.
in Japan, since early time, it is said Kimon is the direction where devils (ogres) move in and out. This idea came from the Oriental concept of Yin and Yang. Even today, Many Japanese people care about the Kimon direction.
sumi=corner and yagura=tower. Sumiyagura were built in all corners in the area of the castle. These watchtowers had a different role such as watching for enemies, sightseeing etc. The role of the Kimon tower was to seal off the movement of devils (ogres).
check more about Kimon and Kimon-yagura↓↓
a castle with care for Kimon and the Shinto ceremonies for sanctifying ground
in those days devised various way to protect themselves from misfortune which came from Omote Kimon (northeast) and Ura Kimon (southwest; antithetical to Omote Kimon). We can see the efforts made at Kimon-yagura which remains today.
tower in the following black-and-white photo is the Kimon-yagura which remained during 1912-1926 at the ruins of Yokoku castle.
tower played a role of stopping entering and exiting of devils (ogres) that brought the misfortune. The tower is also place of sanctuary.
of Kimon direction and Kimon tower
avoid the misfortune,
the Kimon tower in the Kimon direction (northeast).
the corner the Stone wall in the Kimon direction.
corner of the Kimon tower in the Kimon direction is also cut off.
in those days went to temples which were built in the Kimon direction to pray on the 18th of every month.
sacrifice was discovered at the Ura Kimon direction to seal off the movement of devils (ogres).
The Stone wall
ORIGIN OF THE NAME "YOKOKU"
stones of the wall are stacked together in the Nozura way. This method is to stack up the natural stones as they are.
features of the Nozura way are:
forms of natural stones are stacked up. The Nozura way is a more advanced technique than appears.
it may appear fragile, it is very strong and has good drainage.
is easy for enemies to climb the wall because the surface is not smooth but has a patterned, indented surface.
bell at the east side of the ruins of Yokoku castle was made by the 3rd domain head, Kinoshita Toshinaga. It used to be on the west side of Ohte-mon (the front gate), but it was replaced to the present place when the Ohte-mon was removed. In the Edo era, a bellman rang the bell 12 times a day so people could tell the time.
ORIGIN OF THE NAME "YOKOKU"
castle was originally called "Hiji castle", "Aoyagi castle" and "Ukitsu castle". The reason why the name became Yokoku is still unclear, but there are two widely-accepted theories about the origin of the name. One is; Toshinaga who was the 3 rd domain head changed "Hiji" to "Yokoku". The other is; someone named "Yokoku" after a sentence in Chinese literature.