Sumpu Castle served as the retirement home of Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan. He took up residence at the castle in 1586, along with his consort, Lady Saigo, and their two sons, Hidetada and Tadayoshi. The castle that we see today is not a part of the original castle but a replica and part of the park space.
The former castle included watchtowers, gates, arsenals, moats and the main keep. These structures are designed to be the last line of defense of the castle’s lord.
A castle’s gate is built to protect the inner areas of the castle. The East Gate of Sumpu Castle is a box-shaped structure that consists of four elements: a bridge that crosses the moat; the first gate with easy access; the Yagara gate positioned at a right angle and the clay, stone walls which serves as the arsenal.
The gate burned down in 1635 and was rebuilt in 1638. The East Gate that stands today is modelled after the 1638 version and was made using traditional Japanese architectural methods.Sumpu Castle’s Tatsumi-Yagura arsenal was used as a lookout tower during battles. Its name is derived from the word yagura which means “storage of arrows” and tatsumi which means “southeast”. As the name suggests, this place was used for storing arrows and can be found in the southeast corner of the castle compound.
The arsenal was once burned down and rebuilt in 1638. It was later destroyed again by the Ansei Edo Earthquake of 1855.
If ever you are in Shizuoka, Sumpu Castle is a must-visit area where you can learn about the history of Japan during the Tokugawa period and have a glimpse of how its founder, Tokugawa Ieyasu lived during his last years.