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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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- Spring '13