Sunpu Castle, or Sunpu-jō in Japanese, is a castle in Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture, originally built in 1337 by the Imagawa clan. This feudal fortress was also known as the “Castle of the Floating Isle”, because it existed during the Muromachi period in Japan (1336 to 1573) where the latter part was known as the warring state period.
After the defeat of the holders of Senpu castle, the Imagawa clan, in a brutal battle in 1560 the castle eventually passed to Tokugawa Ieyasu, arguably the most famous samurai in Japan history.
Ieyasu was the founder and first shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, which effectively ruled Japan from 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.
Ieyasu, who had spent part of his youth in Sunpu Castle as a hostage, eventually went on to reconstruct the castle in 1585 and take up residence there for a number of years, preparing for the famous battle of Sekigahara in 1600. After this famous battle he established the longest period of peace and isolation in Japan’s history, known as the Edo period and created the city that is now known as Tokyo.
After creating Tokyo and establishing the Tokugawa Shogunate (which would rule Japan for 265 years) Ieyasu again returned to Sunpu Castle to retire until his death in 1616.
So it could be argued that Sunpu Castle is one of the most historically significant heritage sites in Japan – at least in terms of the past 500 years and the establishment of much of current day rule of law.
Today, Sunpu castle is surrounded by a beautiful park and sits in the centre of Shizuoka city, with the outer walls lining the main streets of the city. The keep of the castle is the largest in Japan, even bigger than its more famous cousin, Edo castle.
However, because of war, fire and the castle changing hands over the centuries, many of the buildings have had to be recreated.
Sections made from wood, such as the East Gate that were destroyed in a 17th century fire, were reconstructed in 1996 to exact specifications, even using the original hinoki timber, along with beams made from entire tree trunks, as they were when the castle was originally constructed in 1337.
Other reconstruction projects in the mid 1990’s recreated the Tatsumi Yagura sections, so even visiting the castle today, one can still enjoy the atmosphere of the original design along with the smells of hinoki timber as if it were constructed yesterday.
Visiting the castle is easy. The Tokaido Shinkansen, which travels between Tokyo and Kyoto, stops at Shizuoka city, and the castle and surrounding attractions are a short 10 minute taxi ride or a leisurely 20-30 minute walk through parks and shops, making a great half day excursion. See other attractions in Shizuoka city and plan to explore.
For more Information check – Sunpu Castle Website
Address: 1-1 Sunpujokoe, Aoi-ku, Shizuoka-shi, Shizuoka
Hours: 9:00-16:30 for charged facilities
Admission Fee: Free (Admission fee for Higashigomon/Tatsumiyagura: 200; admission fee for Momijiyama Garden: 150)
Closed: Mondays for charged facilities (facilities are open if Monday is a national holiday)