ASIA212Varley

As we shall see some of the finest artwork of the

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Unformatted text preview: ously felt sufficiently secure in their positions as baronial rulers to sacrifice the military advantages of less exposed terrain in order to make these strongholds the administrative and commercial centers of their domains. The first true castles, built during the age of unification, were distinguishable from earlier fortresses primarily by their massive stone foundations and their general size and grandeur. A Jesuit priest described the castle that Nobunaga built at Azuchi on the shore of Lake Biwa with these words of wonder and admiration: On top of the hill in the middle of the city Nobunaga built his palace and castle, which as regards architecture, strength, wealth and grandeur may well be compared with the greatest buildings of Europe. Its strong and well constructed surrounding walls of stone are over 60 spans in height and even higher in many places; inside the walls there are many beautiful and exquisite houses, all of them decorated with gold and so neat and well fashioned that they seem to reach the acme of human elegance. And in the middle there is a sort of tower which they call tenshu and it indeed has a far more noble and splendid appearance than our towers. It consists of seven floors, all of which, both inside and out, have been fashioned to a wonderful architectural design. . . . [Inside], the walls are decorated with designs richly painted in gold and different colours. Some are painted white with their windows varnished black according to Japanese usage, and they look extremely beautiful, others are painted red, others blue, while the uppermost one is entirely gilded.7 Hideyoshi built three castles, one in Kyoto, another at Momoyama immediately to the south of the capital, and a third (a particularly massive 148 The Country Unified fortification) at Osaka. Unfortunately, none of the unification-age castles has survived. Indeed, there are few castles remaining in Japan today, and all postdate unification. Warfare and natural disasters, combined with the policy of th...
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