The castle tower in Kawashima is what I expected when I first heard of Tokushima Central Park and the supposed ‘castle remains’ that stood there. Standing atop a hill with a fine view over the Yoshino River, its white walls and tiled rooves paint a very prominent and pretty picture that seem as though they were made to be photographed.
If you are a serious purveyor of ancient castles in Japan, however, you might find yourself a little disappointed. The only thing very castle-like about the area is the tower itself, and there are no moats or walls beyond those gifted to it naturally by its surroundings. The castle itself leaves a little to be desired as well, being a mere replication built in 1981 of the old castle tower and not the real deal.
But thankfully, what the area lacks in castle architecture it makes up for in parkland beauty.
The hill on which the castle tower stands provides the grounds for a large park, lined double thick with cherry blossom trees sitting in ready wait for the coming of Spring. The main feature of the park is a striking stony ridge known as The Nose Rock (岩の鼻) that acts as a wonderful lookout over the surrounding area. Furthermore, the Yoshino River, jutting around the castle and park area on the north and west, also serves to clear the immediate surrounds from other buildings and the sounds of nearby traffic. And for those who like to see all their historic (or perhaps semi-historic) buildings in the same place, have no fear – there’s a shinto shrine here as well called Kawashima Jinja.
But that’s not all the place has to offer. Indeed, while steep ridges and hilltops probably don’t strike confidence in the existance of parking or other areas, this is actually not the case. Down on the northern side of the park is a small, flat field where you can run around in and play sport, and there is ample space around for parking cars.
Another of the area’s great features are the rows of cherry blossom trees that line the park area. While they aren’t much to look at during winter, the area is simply amazing in spring. The sheer volume and number of cherry blossoms is amazing, and combined with the castle tower in the background, you’ve got the winning combination for a Kodak Golden Moment.
Last of all, in a slice of good news, the castle is surprisingly easy to get to thanks to its position by Route 192, one of the main roads running east to west through Tokushima Prefecture. Check out the map below for directions!
The castle at Kawashima was first constructed in the year 1572, after the defeat of the Hosokawa Clan by the local Miyoshi Clan. Unfortunately, the reign of the Miyoshi Clan didn’t last for very long, and in the year 1579 the was wiped out after a battle with the Chosokabe Clan of Tosa (modern day Kagawa) that aimed to unify all of Shikoku.
Iin the year 1585, when the Lord Hachisuka was granted control over Shikoku by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the new reiging clan built nine castles throughout the Awa territory using Tokushima Castle as the main base. The Hachisuka Clan’s head retainer Hayashi was given control over the castle at Kawashima, and the town area about it fell under his control.
The Hayashi family lived there in the castle for three generations, looking after one of the most strategically important regions in Awa at the time. However, in 1615 after the beginning of the Edo Period, the unification of the country did away with the need for castles, and Kawashima Castle was taken down in 1638 along with the other eight.
Larer on, the area was used as the location for a magistrates office that was used through the rest of the Edo Period and into the Meiji Restoration.