While on an MWR tour to visit a green tea plantation in fertile Shizuoka Prefecture, Angela and I got an impressive tour of a rebuilt Edo Period Castle.  We have visited several castles in Japan, but had perhaps our best visit at this more rural reconstruction. The tour we were on stopped for lunch in the village of Kakegawa, a city located on the ancient Tokaido Road that had connected Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo).  After a quick lunch in the tidy village, we toured the landmark dominating the landscape.  Kakegawa Castle is located on a hill, with the “donjon” overlooking the complex and can be seen for miles around.  Like most castles in Japan this is a reconstruction, as wood does not last long as a permanent building structure.  Walking up the steep stone steps to the donjon, we observed a miniature model of the castle complex, then headed up to the donjon.  The Castle Keep (Donjon) was apparently not for everyday living and only for defense, and thus is sparsely decorated.

Large rooms with few walls allow for defenders to respond to whichever side is imperiled by attackers.  We took our shoes off and took the obligatory tour up and down steep stair cases and vaguely following the poor English of our tour guide.  What was most impressive of this castle was the “daimyo’s” residence (translated as a palace).  The regional feudal lord, of the samurai class, would have lived in this really neat palace below the donjon.  Surrounding the palace was a Buddhist rock garden with carefully raked rows of pebbles.  Once inside, we took our shoes off and enjoyed the simple Japanese elegance of indoor design.

Sliding shoji doors separated large tatami floored rooms with few furniture items to be seen.  Indoor gardens were visible along inner secretive walk way, and I was most impressed with the gutter system carefully moving water into tiny indoor streams.  Oddly we discovered a room with the local kami (spirit gods?) costume for the local summer festival held every three years.  We enjoyed the town, only a two hour drive south, so much we intend to attend the festival in OCT 2012.

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