Tsuwano castle town’s history
The castle town’s development and change over time
The history of the town started with Yoshimi clan, when he started to build the castle in 1295. The castle town at the time was on the opposite, south side of the castle hill. After Warring States period (1467-1568) the town started to expand towards east.
Entering the Edo period (1600-1868) Sakazaki Naomori started to strengthen the fortification building stone foundations and towers, and parallel to this, moved the palace to the east side of the mountain. Sakazaki was domain lord for only 16 years, and the Kamei clan who took over continued his development of the castle town.
When Kamei clan moved the palace from Tonomachi street to the foot of the castle, they also created a moat system. Inside the moat, the high ranking samurai were living, and outside of the moat the middle and low ranking samurai had their mansions and houses. At the entrance of the castle town, kuchiya (guard house post) were erected, to monitor the peoples movements entering and leaving the town.
Beginning of Edo period
In 1601 the power change between the old Yoshimi clan and the new domain lord Sakazaki clan was completed. In a document made by Sakazaki in 1602, the land of Tsuwano is divided into purpose areas, and the Honmachi street and crossing it the Imaichi street is already present. Also, the ashigaru (low ranking samurai) quarters found south from the castle (Washibara) are already noted as Kamiichi and Shimoichi, showing that by this time the town’s basic structure was already laid out.
In 1617 the Kamei Clan became the domain lord of Tsuwano Domain and used the palace created by Sakazaki in Tonomachi street as the center, to further develop the castle town.
First, they have created “Gionsha-kyutou” (currently “Otabisho”) in 1617 at the north end of the city, and than in 1628 the old Yoshimi estate in Naka-no-hara was rebuilt as a new palace. Lastly in 1638 the outer moat was dug. The basic structure of the town continuing until the end of the Edo period (1600-1868) was laid down in this period.
In a document sent to the shogunate (dating around 1644 – 1658), the town’s roads and lands as well as “samurai town”, “merchants”, “ashigaru (low ranking samurai) town” distinctions were already clearly visible. This is considered as a “development plan” for the town, as a map from a later period, does not detail the road network and the ashigaru (low ranking samurai) quarters in the north part of the town are not yet visible.
Mid Edo period (1600-1868)
The map from the Genroku period (1688 – 1736) shows the road and land structure of the town, and also has details on the name and size of the samurai mansions and merchant houses.
The town is a developed castle town at this point, with political structure and a prospering industries.
The castle town is a in a North-South narrow valley, and with strong wind from the south, it has often burned down.
The fire that started in 1705 burned down about 900 buildings, the next year a moat and waterways were built in front of the palace, and also the water was channelled into the centre of the city. Dispute these measures, the castle town had widespread fires in 1763 and 1773, when more than 1000 buildings were lost.
End of Edo period
The layout of Tsuwano town has not changed much from the Genroku period (1688-1736) map all the way until the end of the Edo period (1600-1868). However, the fire of 1853 destroyed the domain
lord’s palace and some 1760 buildings, and became the biggest fire in the history of the town. The buildings that survived the fire are marked with a red circle on the Tsuwano Castle Town Map, and as can be seen, only a handful buildings were left unharmed by the fire.
Tsuwano domain had a immense loss due to this fire, but after receiving permission from the shogunate, the domain managed to rebuild the domain lord’s palace in 1855 years, and relocated the Domain school to its present location to Tonomachi street.
The merchants also rebuilt their houses using the materials left of their houses, as they wanted to continue their business as early as possible.