Ordinance for Keeping and Disposal of Castles and Selection of Military Posts (全国城郭存廃ノ処分並兵営地等撰定方)
The Ordinance for Keeping and Disposal of Castles and Selection of Military Posts is an edict and notice of Dajokan (Grand Council of state) issued by the Meiji Government to Okura-sho (Ministry of the Treasury) on January 14, 1873, regarding the property management policies on castles and jinya (regional government office) across the country. Castles and jinya were categorized into those that are to be used by the Army for military purposes and those that are to be handed over to Okura-sho for disposal as properties to be sold.
The Ordinance is mostly referred to in simpler abbreviated form as 'Ordinance for Disposal of Castles' or 'Ordinance for Keeping and Disposal of Castles.'
Meanings of "keeping castles" and "disposal of castles"
This Ordinance is a document issued from the Meiji Government to Okura-sho as a notice of Dajokan, stating that among the lands and buildings of castles across the country that had belonged to the Department of War, those that are to be retained by the Army for military purposes will be kept, meaning they will continue to be national administrative assets, and the other lands and buildings will be disposed of, meaning they will be national ordinary properties managed by and to be disposed of by Okura-sho.
In this case, keeping castles (i.e. making them administrative assets of the Department of War) was not intended for preserving the lands and buildings as 'cultural properties' as in today's concept; rather, it aimed to convert time-honored castle buildings, stone walls, trees, and so on to Army posts etc. Later on, while there is the example of Wakamatsu-jo Castle, which was completely taken apart to construct an Army post, there is also the example of Himeji-jo Castle, which was partially torn down to establish Army facilities but still retains major buildings such as a tenshu (main keep or tower of a castle) and most structural remnants, being designated a National Treasure and a special historic site. Even among the castles that were kept for conversion to Army sites, some castles, such as Hikone-jo Castle, had their lands and buildings preserved under an exceptional policy of the Meiji Government, being designated National Treasures and special historic sites.
Castles that were disposed of were placed under the management of Okura-sho as ordinary properties and became sites to be sold for local organizations, schools, etc. Most of the castles and jinya in the country were demolished, and their lands were sold. However, some castles, such as Inuyama-jo Castle and Matsumoto-jo Castle, after their buildings were specified to be sold and/or demolished, have been preserved for various reasons and designated as National Treasures and historic sites.
Selling of unused remaining castles in 1890
Later, in 1890, some castle sites that had been determined to serve as sites for the Department of War became disused and were sold only to the former lords of the domains or local organizations at reasonable prices without public auctions.
The reason was that 'if castles are sold to former castellans, who have connections to the castles that had been inherited from their ancestors over the past several hundred years, and the castellans are to preserve the shapes of the castles and hand them down to later generations, the castles would show part of the course of our history, which is favorable.'
Although this was a forerunner event of the protection of cultural properties as historic sites, the protection of historic sites by a legal system had to await the establishment of the Historical Spot, Scenic Beauty, and Natural Monument Preservation Law of 1919.
Details of the documents
Although the lands and the buildings related to military and castles across the country have been managed by the Department of War, an order was given to renew the management of those that are required by Army, as shown in Supplement 1.'
Because the other time-honored castles, jinya, etc. that are listed in Supplement 2 were determined to be disposed of, they will all be handed over to Okura-sho, including attached buildings, trees, and stones; hence, dispose of them after receiving them from the Department of War.'
Thus, castles and jinya across the country were divided into administrative assets managed by the Department of War and ordinary properties managed by Okura-sho.
Preservation of the documents
The documents are preserved in the National Archives of Japan
Category of collected materials: Dajoruiten (records from the cabinet of the Meiji Government), series 2, from 1871 to 1877, vol. 214, heisei (military system) 13, establishment of chindai (garrison) and offices 4
Call number: Honkan (Main building)-2A-009-00, Da 00436100
Keeping and disposal of castles (notice) January 14, 1873, to Okura-sho
Although the lands and the buildings related to the military and castles across the country have been managed by the Department of War, an order was given to renew the management of those that are required by the Army, as shown in Supplement 1. Because the other time-honored castles, jinya, etc. that are listed in Supplement 2 were determined to be disposed of, they will all be handed over to Okura-sho, including attached buildings, trees, and stones; hence, dispose of them after receiving them from the Department of War. When military camps are constructed and established on the lands managed by the Department of War, any extra lands, trees, stones, etc., will be handed over to Okura-sho. If there are land shortages, further selection will be made, and if an inquiry is made after discussion with Okura-sho, the lands are supposed to be handed over free of charge; in that case, arrange the land rents etc. at Okura-sho. If military camps, drill fields, etc. become necessary, and artillery mounds, ramparts, etc. are to be constructed after lines of defense across the country have been defined, their sites will be selected by the Department of War, and after discussion with Okura-sho, if an inquiry is made, the sites are supposed to be handed over free of charge; in that case, arrange the land rents etc. at Okura-sho again. Among thirteen places, which are Kisarazu, Niigata, Mizusawa, Aomori, Gifu, Nanao, Hyogo, Otsu, Tsuruga, Hamada, Susakiura, Chiba, and Nagasaki, required areas will be determined by the Department of War, and after discussions with Okura-sho, lands will be provided; hence, arrange the means of transfer.
(notice) February 23, 1873; No. 20; To Okura-sho
A notice has recently been issued regarding castles etc., and among castles in each region, all castles other than those to be managed by the Department of War as in Supplement have been directed to be managed by Okura-sho. Hence, survey the castles, jinya, drill fields, and other properties that had previously been in military use in each jurisdiction in detail from the size of buildings to trees by marking off fields in units of tan, and then submit the survey results with attached drawings by March 15 without delay. Although the areas where soldiers and ammunition are retained by the Department of War; that is, areas where their withdrawal is difficult at the moment, may eventually be confiscated, survey those areas thoroughly as well, because marking off fields in units of tan herein may affect the prospect of commencement in the future. Notify the resident officers of these matters and make arrangements so that there will be no inconvenience.
List of castles that were kept and disposed of
The castles in bold font have tenshu and/or goten (palace) in existence. The italicized castles have had major buildings such as tenshu burned down in World War II.
Although the Hakodate Goryokaku fort had been exempted from this measure, it was determined to be kept under the management of the Department of War in the notice of Dajokan issued in December of the same year.