Yamatokoriyama City
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Koriyama Castle

Koriyama Castle: The History of its Town

Adjacent to Osaka and Kyoto, Yamatokoriyama was a military and political fortress from olden times. Many influential warriors battled to gain power over this region.  However, in the Edo period a succession of dominant lords were deployed to rule Koriyama realm.

Tsutsui Junkei, the Warrior who Unified Yamato, Builds a Castle in Koriyama. 

It was Junkei who united the Yamato province by overcoming the rising local samurais, one after another.  His achievement of Yamato unification, supported by Oda Nobunaga, took place in 1576, and his entrance into Koriyama Castle was accomplished in 1580. Koriyama was a bustling area where markets stood in rows, but Junkei’s arrival brought even more prosperity to the town.

There is a famous episode about Junkei.  After the Incident of Honoji in 1582, Junkei was asked by his ally Akechi Mitsuhide, to send troops to Horagatoge pass for military assistance.  However, impressed by the superior forces of the opponent, Junkei brooded over whether to accept Mitsuhide's demand, but finally he made up his mind to wait and see which side to take.  This incident has been handed down through a Japanese saying "Horagatoge o kimekomu" or "to wait and see at Horagatoge," which is now used in a negative sense, "to come down on the right side of the fence."

Koriyama Castle
Constructed by Tsutsui Junkei in 1580.  However, the castle was destroyed in 1873. In 1983 Bairin-mon, in 1984 Outesumi-yagura, and finally in 1987 Outemukai-yagura were re-established successively.
Tsutsui Junkei (1549-1584)
After defeating Matsunaga Hisahide at Shigisan Castle with the military assistance of Oda Nobunaga, Junkei was appointed as the lord of Yamato province in 1580. As a symbol of his achievement of becoming the ruler of all of Yamato, Junkei built a castle in Koriyama.
Junkei's mausoleum. It is known as a superb example of architecture of the early modern period.

The Town Witnesses a Great Development Through Toyotomi Hidenaga's Policy

In 1585, Hideyoshi's younger brother, Hidenaga, moved into Koriyama Castle and succeeded to the Tsutsui clan's position as the head of the domain. Hidenaga, who had excellent entrepreneurial skills, supported Hideyoshi on many occasions and gained three provinces, Yamato, Izumi, and Kii, which amounted to one million goku in total when he entered Koriyama.

Along with Hidenaga's arrival, Koriyama began to play a significant role in the field of economy and politics. Besides enlarging Koriyama Castle in order to make it a suitable residence for a feudal lord of one million goku, he also commenced a new community system called "Hakomoto-jusan-cho," the privilege given by Hidenaga to protect the commerce and industry of Koriyama town. Not only did he forbid his townsmen to do business in Nara, but he also summoned merchants and craftsmen from other neighboring towns with a view to promoting his town's industrial growth. Although he was successful in other projects as well, his administration ended with his death only 6 years later.

In addition to shrines and temples associated with Tsutsui Junkei and Toyotomi Hidenaga, Yamatokoriyama City leads you back into a mystic time through prehistoric remains of the Jomon and Yayoi eras, ancient tombs of the Yamato Court (around the 4th century), and relics of Rajomon Gate that once belonged to the Nara Heijo-kyo Capital.

Hidenaga's family temple. Hidenaga's portrait, painted by Kano Sadanobu, as well as materials concerning Hatamoto policy are preserved.
 Toyotomi Hidenaga (1540-1591)
Brother of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the great medieval warlord. After Tsutsui Sadatsugu was transferred to Iga, he moved into Koriyama Castle and reigned over 3 provinces. Since then, Koriyama developed dramatically into the center of politics and economy of Yamato province.
Hidenaga's grave, where his ashes are buried. Gorinto, (the 5-tiered stupa), on which Hidenaga's posthumous Buddhist name is inscribed, stands on an earthen foundation surrounded by trees. It is a well-known sightseeing spot preserved as one of Yamatokoriyama City's designated historical site.
Hieda no Kango-shuraku
A circular moated settlement, surrounded by bushes which protected it from enemy attack, remains almost intact.

Yanagisawa Yoshisato, the Lord Who Brought Goldfish, Silkworm and Prosperity to the Town

After the death of Toyotomi Hidenaga, many lords frequently exchanged the sovereignty of Koriyama domain until the advent of Yoshisato. Yoshisato was the eldest son of Yoshiyasu, who inherited Kofu Castle from his father. However, he was transferred to Koriyama Castle in 1724, and became the first Yanagisawa to govern the area.

It is said that the development and prosperity of the modern Kofu town owes much to the work of Yoshiyasu and Yoshisato, who activated the supply distribution route by reconstructing Kofu Castle and maintaining the surrounding cities. On Yoshisato's relocation, the peasants were said to have paid up their annual rice tax accurately, and sent their former lord off with respect, and 5286 retainers and their family members followed him to his new land, Koriyama.

Yoshisato introduced silkworm cultivation, and this rehabilitated Koriyama's economy. He also brought in his pet goldfish, which launched a new goldfish business. Goldfish farming gradually became a prosperous industry as a side job of lower ranked samurai; even after the Meiji Restoration, it sustained the livelihoods of those who lost their jobs as samurai and farmers. Behind this goldfish business, however, there was Koriyama realm's last lord Yanagisawa Yasunobu's unstinting aid. Over the years, Yamatokoriyama has developed into the nation's leader in goldfish cultivation.

Furthermore, Yanagisawa Koriyama has produced many individuals who became famous for cultural talents. Among them was the eminent Yanagisawa Satoyasu, (also known as Ryu Rikyo or Kien), one of the chief vassals who was both a samurai and a painter. Yoshisato, who was proficient in literary arts, received painting lessons from Kano Doiku. The hand writing of the successive lords, and numerous historical documents which are designated as the city's assets, are collected at ‘Yanagisawa Bunko,' known as the private library specializing in local historical materials.

Yoshisato, who was highly talented in many fields, had led Koriyama domain to become the economic and cultural hub of Yamato. The Yanagisawa family had succeeded the throne through 6 generations, for 147 years, until the Meiji Restoration ended the military government. Nevertheless, the bygone culture and local industry remain at the core of the present day by merging into the citizens' everyday lives.

Yanagisawa Yoshisato (1687-1745)
He inherited Kofu (present Yamanashi Prefecture) Castle from his father Yoshiyasu, an influential attendant to the 5th Shogun Tsunayoshi. In 1724, at the order of the 8th Shogun Yoshimune, Yoshisato was sent to Koriyama to reign over 4 provinces, which were Yamato, Omi (present Shiga Prefecture), Kawachi (present Osaka Prefecture), and Ise (present Mie Prefecture). He became the feudal lord of 150,000 goku.  Under Yoshisato's dominance, Koriyama formed the foundation of a prosperous town, functioning as a center of economy and culture.
Yanagisawa Bunko
This incorporated institution serves as a local historical library for citizens and researchers. The collections include official diaries owned by the Yanagisawa family, and historical documents and paintings that are designated as the city's assets.