Sakura: The castle town with a highway connecting Edo to the castle that protected it
Sakura Castle has supported Edo both administratively and militarily since its construction as the focal point of Edo’s eastern defense.
Since ancient times, the Hokuso region has occupied a strategic position overlooking the Oshu region, and in the Edo period, numerous hereditary feudal lords were deployed to Sakura because of that importance.
The Sakura Highway, which connected administratively important Sakura with Edo, was later called the Narita Highway, which goes to show how busy the Sakura castle town was because of how popular visits to Naritasan Shinsho-ji Temple were among people of that era.
Moreover, the councilor Hotta Masayoshi who helped open up Japan during the late shogunate period, worked to promote Western learning at the Han school Seitoku Shoin, and he developed it into a college town that would produce human resources for Edo.
In particular, the Sakura Juntendo was established in 1843, and many of the youth who studied there went on to play important roles in the medical field of the Meiji era, with Sakura on the cutting edge of Western studies.
Japan Heritage About An Edo Travelogue through Four Hokuso Cities,
List of cultural assets
Sakura Castle Town Historical District 1.Former Hirai Family Residence 2.Sato Family Residence 3.Yamaguchi Family Residence 4.Ishiwata Family Residence 5.Mitani Family Residence
List of spots
Sakura is said to be a "castle town that supported Edo both militarily and politically, and also put an emphasis on learning," but that image doesn't come across to people outside the prefecture. However, when I actually went there myself, what I saw was people with honest and passionate feelings.
A dry moat like a bottomless pit
What is the meaning of Sakura "supporting Edo both militarily and politically"?
Sakura Castle, which used to stand here, was built in the Edo period as a "key to protecting the east of Edo", by Ieyasu Tokugawa's cousin, Toshiki Doi. It took seven years from 1611, 11 years after the beginning of the Edo Shogunate. The fact that he entrusted the building of the castle to his cousin means that Ieyasu considered the land of Sakura to be a very important base.
To prevent enemy invasion, embankment-like earth foundations were built by stacking soil, and the castle was well protected by dry and water-filled moats, also to prevent invasion.
When I looked into the remaining dry moat from the place where the castle once stood, I felt like I was being swallowed into a deeply dug space, and my legs froze. Conversely, it must have been a very difficult technique to climb up from that depth. Just looking at that one dry moat gave me a sense of the castle's aura of "You absolutely will not attack us!"
What do you think about on the veranda?
If there is a castle, it means that the clans who serve there also live in mansions they built around the castle. These are commonly called Samurai Houses. There are still some of those residences in the Sakura area.
Everything in the Sakura domain was based on the rules of a "residential system", and the retainers lived accordingly. The residential system meant that the size and style of a retainer's residence was determined by their status. In other words, a passer-by could tell at a glance that, "Oh, this retainer is a person of high status" or "The retainer in this residence has one more step to go." This seems to be a very strict rule. However, if you thought that it was embarrassing to live in a simple house, it may have been the driving force to make you work hard and elevate your status.
As I actually went around, there were obvious differences between the three samurai residences in a row. The size of the sites and the structure of the residences are really different. It felt so real, and made me realize that working is tough, in any time period.
To serve people
There is a manga about a modern doctor who travels back in time to the end of the Tokugawa period and contributes to medical development, but the place that actually contributed to the development of modern medicine in Japan is the old Sakura Juntendo.
At the behest of Sakura feudal lord Masayoshi Hotta, Taizen Sato, a doctor of Western medicine who had made a name for himself in Edo, came to live in Sakura and opened the Juntendo medical school. There, he actually practiced medicine while he was educating younger medical students. Many of them had been dispatched by their individual clan to learn medicine. Because everyone was coming at the expense of their clan, they must have felt considerable responsibility and resolve, and applied themselves diligently to their studies.
Instruments used at that time and various other materials are on display in the building, and it includes an example of an operation for breast cancer. Around the end of the Tokugawa period, there was already a surgical operation to remove the affected area, and many cases were dealt with here. As advanced medicine was brought back to each clan, medicine spread to rural areas, and many lives were saved. Thinking about how this was where it all began, I felt deeply emotional.
Going around each place, there was nothing that was showy, and I was able to get a sense of the lifestyle of the Edo period people who were trying to live down-to-earth lives.
Writer: Akiko Konda
Born in Gifu Prefecture. Graduated from Kyoto Women's University. After encountering the clay figures of Kanonji Temple in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, she visited ruins and museums in various locations and conducted ongoing research on clay figures. In addition to appearing on television and radio, at talk events etc., she is involved in activities to educate about the Jomon period and the charms of clay figures. Her books include "Hajimete no Dogu" (Introduction to Clay Figures, 2014, Sekaibunka Publishing), "Nippon Zenkoku Dogu Techo" (Japan National Clay Figure Diary, 2015, Sekaibunka Publishing), "Tokimeku Jomon Zukan" (Exciting Jomon Guide, 2016, Yama-kei Publishers, 2016), "Dogu no Real" (Real Clay Figures, 2017, Yamakawa Publishing Co., Ltd.), and "Shirarezaru Jomon Life" (Unknown Life of the Jomon Period, 2017, Seibundo Shinkosha).
How about this? Notes on walking around Sakura
Let's take a look at the armor in the Samurai House.
In the Samurai House, the furnishings on display give a glimpse of the lifestyle of Sakura's samurai.
One thing you shouldn't miss when visiting a samurai residence is the armor. Two suits of armor are displayed, one large and one small. Also, it seems that events were you can try on the armor are held several times a year, so it's worth checking the homepage, etc.
A picturesque pathway
A pathway that connects with the Samurai House street is called "Hiyodori-zaka". It seems that it is also called the Samurai Pathway. The path, surrounded by bamboo groves that extend straight up to the sky, cuts out the light of the sun slightly, creating an indescribably picturesque atmosphere. Let's walk down the slope, feeling like a samurai.
Enjoy the four seasons in the large garden.
Former Masatomo Hotta Garden is the mansion/garden of Masatomo Hotta, who was the last lord of Sakura. This garden is also affectionately known to the locals as "Sakura Garden". As that name suggests, with cherry blossoms in spring, hydrangeas in early summer, and colorful leaves in autumn, the garden is adorned by the various flowers of the changing seasons.