Todo Takatora 藤堂高虎

Todo Takatora

Master Castle Achitect (築城の名手)

Todo Takatora (1556-1630) was the greatest castle architect of Japan. Kato Kiyomasa and sometimes others also come up in discussions of the great castle builders, but no one built or designed as many castles or had as much influence on castles as Takatora.

Takatora is also known for deftly maneuvering through the changing political climate of the times. He changed lords seven times and became a powerful daimyo himself in the Edo Period. Takatora was born to a samurai family in present day Shiga Prefecture. After briefly serving under Nobunaga's nephew, Oda Nobusumi, he became a foot soldier under Hashiba Hidenaga (Toyotomi Hidenaga, the younger brother of Toyotomi Hideyoshi). Takatora quickly rose through the ranks for his skill on the battlefield, earning the trust of Hidenaga and becoming one of his highest ranking officers. He also participated in the Korean Invasions as a commander in Hideyoshi's fleet. At the Battle of Sekigahara, Takatora switched allegiances to Tokugawa and was rewarded with the province around Imabari. Despite having been one of the Tozama Daimyo (lords that were not hereditary family allies of the Tokugawa), Takatora was closer and trusted by Ieyasu more than many of the Fudai Daimyo (hereditary Tokugawa allies).

Takatora earned Ieyasu's trust when he was helping with the construction of Ieyasu's palace in Kyoto. Ieyasu was so impressed with Takatora's skills and ideas, like widening the moats to help defend against rifles, that he also commissioned Takatora to design Edo Castle. Takatora's strength was in designing layouts that made use of the land and the natural defenses of the castle to it's advantage. His castles are also famous for steep, high stone walls. He also developed the techniques for building sotogata type tenshu (main keep) that made them not only stronger, but also cheaper and faster to build than the traditional borogata type architecture. Just as Takatora was able to navigate the changing war times he also foresaw a time of peace in the future. He promoted the development of castle towns to make them more spacious and to make the roads more navigable promoting trade and business.

Todo Takatora's Castle Record

1583 Izushi Castle
1585 Yamato Koriyama Castle
1586 Jurakudai Hideyoshi's palace in Kyoto
1587 Saruokayama Castle
1589 Akagi Castle
1594 Fushimi Castle
1596 Uwajima Castle Takatora's first fief
1597 Ozu Castle Built after receiving these increased lands
1597 Suncheon Castle Suncheon Korea, for the Korean invasion
1601 Zeze Castle
1602 Imabari Castle Takatora moves to Imabari
1602 Fushimi Castle
1606 Edo Castle
1608 Tsu Castle Takatora moves to Tsu
1608 Iga Ueno Castle
1609 Sasayama Castle
1610 Kameyama Castle Donated his main keep from Imabari
1617 Nikko Toshogu Shrine to his lord and friend Ieyasu
1619 Nijo Castle
1619 Wakayama Castle
1620 Osaka Castle It is surmised that Takatora also created the renovation plans for Takatsuki Castle, Amasaki Castle, and Akashi Castle (all around Osaka) at the same time
1623 Yodo Castle
1628 Nanzenji TempleSanmon gate

Some people say that Takatora also worked on Sunpu Castle at some point for Ieyasu. Regardless, he has surely assisted or influenced even more castles but there are no records to show for it.