|Admin's Rating||★ ★ ★ ★ ☆|
|Historical Site||National Historic Site|
|Historical Value||Top 100 Castles, UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Location||Hagi, Yamaguchi Pref.|
|Access||Higashi Hagi Sta. (San'in Line), bus|
|Visited||November 21, 2014|
|Visitor Info.||8:00-18:30 (Apr-Oct), 8:30-16:30 (Nov-Feb), 8:30-:18:00 (Mar). 210 yen | Time Required: 180 mins, including the top of the mountain|
After losing to Tokugawa at the Battle of Sekigahara, Mori Terumoto's lands around Hiroshima were confiscated. Tokugawa wanted to lock the Mori into a remote location on the Japan Sea so they commanded him to build his castle at Hagi. If you visit Hagi you'll see how far and difficult a place it is to get to. The Mori family continued to rule over Hagi until the Meiji restoration. In 1863, Mori Takachika moved the major government functions of the domain to Yamaguchi, because Hagi was too vulnerable to bombardment from the sea. From this point Hagi started losing it's importance and many of the castle buildings were dismantled. In the Meiji Restoration the main keep and the remainder of the buildings were destroyed.
The structure of Hagi Castle is actually very interesting and Mori built a brilliantly defensible little castle. Mt Shizuki is a small mountain right on the coast creating a small peninsula of land. The castle sits at the base of the mountain facing the land and occupies all the approachable land to the mountain. Stone walls and defensible positions on the coast prevent attack from the sea. The Honmaru, Ninomaru and Sannomaru baileys extend towards the land protecting the castle from a land invasion. The Sannomaru Bailey encloses much of the castle town which has numerous walled streets, narrow streets, T-junctions and dead ends to confuse and make it difficult for any attacker to reach the castle. A scattering of watchtowers, gates and strategically placed storehouses for weapons would have made any attack on Hagi very difficult indeed. At the top of the mountain is the Tsumenomaru, a fallback position in case of a siege. The Tsumenomaru itself is divided into two baileys ringed with stone walls and had multiple watchtowers. In the latter Edo Period a yagura partway up the mountain and a platform for cannon was also added to help protect it from the sea. Be sure to look at the map to see how things are distributed around the castle and town.