Castles of Japan, one



assert civil war device (2)
local fortress government
lord retainer defensive
retreat warlord symbolic
region impress tower (2)
rival winding maintain
liquid contend ability (2)
moat shogun show off
path confuse longevity
supply weapon treasure (2)
palace ground shoot/shot/shot
pour survive throw/threw/thrown
boil elegant designate
decor impact residence
steep scale (2) refinement
trap in case sophisticated (2)
pine invader auspicious
sword decline platform (2)
spread imperial construction
awe garrison refined (2)






Japan’s warlords built fortresses during the constant civil warfare from 1300 to 1600.

These castles housed the local government and often provided residence for the lord, his family and retainers.

Castles have many defensive devices, but their symbolic impact was most important. Towering over the region, castles impressed rivals with their scale and the lord’s ability to have them built and maintained.

This is Himeji, one of the few castles that survived. Attackers contended with moats and steep walls. Winding paths and gates confused invaders.

Supplies and weapons were ready in the tower in case of the need to retreat. Defenders had the high ground. They could shoot, throw rocks or pour boiling liquids from special trap windows within the tower.

This residence asserts the power of the owner through its elegant décor rather than defensive technology. This is Nijo in Kyoto, the palace of the Shogun, Japan’s military leader.

Here the Shogun wanted to show off his refinement to the emperor, and the sophisticated residents of Kyoto.

Nijo is famous for its paintings on gold, which have been designated National Treasures by the Japanese government. Pine trees, hawks and tigers are auspicious symbols of longevity and power.

Seated with his swords on a platform in front of these master works, the Shogun was sure to impress his audience.

As peace spread through Japan from the 1600s onwards, construction of defensive architecture like Himeji declined. However, residential castles continued to be developed.

Perhaps the last great castle was built in Edo, the Shogun’s new capital, beginning in 1615. Edo is now known as Tokyo, and the castle is home to the Imperial Family.

This castle, like Himeji and Nijo, helps tell the story of Japan’s warrior culture.

From military garrisons to refined residence, the architecture of the samurai still awes viewers today.


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Cottage. Castles in Japan were mostly constructed in ancient times, about two-thousand years ago. True or false?

Manor, Estate. Who lived in these castles?

Mansion. Did they have an aesthetic, military, administrative function or all of the above?

Castle. Was it easy to besiege and capture a castle?

The castles only displayed authority and might. Is this right or wrong?

Palace. The emperor of Japan lives in a modern palace. Is this correct or incorrect?

Chateaux. What may be the castles’ main function today?

There are (many) castles, palaces and fortresses in my country. Yes or no?

Walls. I have visited numerous castles, palaces and fortresses.

My friends or classmates would like to live in a castle.

Gate, Drawbridge. Should people and governments build new castles, palaces and fortresses? Should they restore, refurbish, renovate ancient and medieval castles and palaces?

Hall, Chamber. What will happen in the future?

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