Yodo-jo Castle (淀城)

Yodo-jo Castle was a castle which used to be in present Fushimi Ward in Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture.


Yodo was also called Yodotsu in ancient times, when it was a big commercial area where tributes to the then emperor were collected and stored from all over the country. So it was strategically a very important place at a crossroads to enter Kyoraku (capital Kyoto) and Yamashiro Province from Kawachi Province and Settsu Province, or from Yamato Province.

Although the Yodo-jo Castle in Fushimi Ward was built in the Edo period under the leadership of the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) as the castle of Yodo clan who was the only feudal lord family to govern Yamashiro Province, there used to be three castles that were called Yodo-jo.

Old Yodo-jo Castle (in the Sengoku period, or the period of warring states: fifteenth to sixteenth century)
This Yodo-jo was built during the Sengoku period, and it is said to have been in the Noso area. Noso was an old central city in the commercial area of 'Yodo,' which was located at the north side of the confluence point of three rivers: Kizu-kawa River, Katsura-gawa River, and Seta-gawa River. As the name of the place implies an ancient transportation terminal for tributes to Emperors, it had been a well-known local city since ancient times. This Sengoku period Yodo-jo Castle was used in the Battle of Yamazaki in which Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI destroyed Mitsuhide AKECHI, and a record says it was also used in Onin War (warfare between lords in the fifteenth century). However, it is doubtful if any permanent keeper or armies were stationed at this castle at the time of Onin War.

Old Yodo-jo Castle (during the reign of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI in the late sixteenth century)
Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI built this castle for his concubine Chacha, and she has been called 'Yododono' (Lady Yodo) since then. This castle is said to have been also in the Noso area, and recent excavations have unveiled that there had been a castle town but it was in fact a residential area and far from a military stronghold.

New Yodo-jo Castle
The Tokugawa Shogunate built this new castle using scrap wood from the remains of Fushimi-jo Castle and transferred the donjon of Nijo-jo Castle here. A castle town called 'Yodosancho' was built on a drained island at the confluence of the three rivers. Yodo Kobashi Bridge and Yodo Ohashi Bridge connected the Noso area in the north and Yawata Area in the south, and the castle town was surrounded by the three rivers forming "a castle in a river." The main gate of this castle was built facing Kyo Kaido Road which was built crossing this castle town. Yodo-jo Castle occupied the west part of this island, which contained a huge moat making this castle town look like a walled city in ancient China.

At the end of the Edo period, the Tokugawa army, being defeated in the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, tried to barricade themselves up in Yodo-jo Castle, but the Yodo clan refused. If they had entered Yodo-jo Castle, it would have been a threat to the new government army because of the structure of the castle.

After the battle, along with the demise of the Yodo clan, Yodo-jo Castle was quickly abandoned. The form of the land around the castle was significantly changed after Ogura-ike Pond on the east of the castle was drained, and all of the castle buildings were destroyed except for a part of Honmaru (the center part of the castle). Later, with the Keihan Electric Railroad being constructed running through the north-western part of its Honmaru, Yodo-jo Castle had been doomed to completely disappear, but when it was designated as a historic site, the preservation movement grew and some repair work is carried out around the Honmaru today to preserve the rock walls and moats which have survived the city development.

[Original Japanese]