Fushimi Castle

Fushimi Momoyama Castle and the Tomb of Emperor Meiji

Toyotomi Hideyoshi is hailed as one of the great unifiers of Japan. He succeeded his liege lord Oda Nobunaga in the later part of the 16th century and is noted for, as well as bringing in the restriction that only members of the samurai class could bear arms, financing the construction, restoration and rebuilding of many temples standing today in Kyoto.

One of his most famous constructions, which sadly didn’t withstand the tests of time and forces of nature was Fushimi Momoyama Castle. A castle does stand today in the vicinity of where the original was built but this is a replica, though a very fine one, built in 1964.

For a while this replica acted as a museum, with a restaurant at the top, and alongside it was a theme park named Castle Land. Castle Land and the museum closed in 2003, the replica castle was later refurbished, and the theme park land turned into a sports ground for football and baseball.

The current refurbished castle is closed to the public to go inside but the gardens and grounds around are open and is a popular picnic place, especially during the cherry blossom blooming time in spring.

The original Fushimi Castle was completed in 1594 but was destroyed two years later by an earthquake. It was quickly rebuilt, and then under the control of Torii Mototada, a vassal of Tokugawa Ieyasu, in 1600, the castle fell in a famous and significant siege by Ishida Mitsunari (the commander of the Western Army at the famous Battle of Sekigahara). Torii Mototada would eventually commit suicide in the castle along with some of his men and the blood stained flooring is now a ceiling in Hosen-in Shrine in Kyoto.

In 1623, the castle was dismantled, and many of its rooms and buildings were incorporated into castles and temples across Japan, some of which are in Kyoto.

It would be quite easy to spend a day just relaxing at the castle site, and maybe taking in a baseball game, but there is plenty more to see close by that is also connected to the history of the castle and other events.

Leaving the castle area, a short ten-minute walk along a path through the wooded area leads to the tomb of Emperor Meiji, and this is the exact location where the original Fushimi Momoyama Castle stood.

The tomb and surrounding grounds are, as you would expect, perfectly tended. Emperor Meiji (Mutsushito) reigned from 1867 until his death in 1912. He was the famed emperor that received back the rule of the land from the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1868.

The actual tomb is set back from it’s entrance which is a magnificent and imposing stone torii gate, and a Zen garden style stone path beyond leads straight up to the tomb.

This whole area is peaceful with very few visitors and as it is set atop a high hill, offers a fantastic view across the Fushimi town.

The Meiji Emperor was a not a healthy man and it has been noted that he suffered from diabetes and other ailments, and died when he was only 60, he did though preside over a period of Japan that saw huge social and economic changes as the country opened up to the rest of the world for the first time in over 250 years. The emperor was also a very artistic man and reputed to have written more than 90,000 short poems depicting the life and times of Japan.

One of the emperor’s poems which he wrote at the end of the Russian-Japanese war, reiterated the man’s peaceful nature.

Yomo no umi
Mina harakara to
Omou yo ni
Nado namikaze no

This can be translated as follows: 

In this world of ours
Where all within the four seas
Should be as brothers
Why is it that waves and winds
Should rise and cause such tumult

From the emperor’s tomb you can make you way down the hill towards the main road by either a meandering pathway that circles around or by taking the great steps that lead straight down.

Whilst in the area, make a day of it and visit the town of Fushimi, sample some of the well known and local sake from the breweries that are just a walk away and walk some of the streets that were frequented by the Meiji-era revolutionary Sakamoto Ryoma.

The nearest JR Nara Line station to the castle and tomb is JR Momoyama. On the Keihan Line is Tambabashi. There is car parking at the castle, the castle grounds are free of charge to enter but there is a car parking charge.

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