Sawayama Castle Ruins

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ishida Mitsunari has been portrayed in varying ways in the NHK Taiga Dramas. In "Aoi Tokugawa" I was given a nuanced view of Mitsunari's place in Japanese history, whereas in the recent "Gou" he was depicted as a one-dimensional cartoon villain. I've even seen him be heroic in "Tenchijin." The books I have read suggest that he very nearly won that Battle of Sekigahara.

Sawayama Castle

From our hotel in Hikone we discovered we could easily visit the site of Mitsunari's castle. The guidebook firmly advised making the hike during daylight hours. The climb up the mountain is narrow and rough, and it would be easy to get lost if it grew dark.

The first thing we did was gaze respectfully upon the visage of Mitsunari himself. As we proceeded along the trail it grew cool under the tall, dense forest and I put on my Hikonyan windbreaker. The path was indeed small and in some areas we walked carefully next to the edge of the hillside.

I was huffing and puffing when we got to the top. There we were, in the ruins of Mitsunari's Sawayama Castle. There was a marker and nothing else, except a fallen tree to rest upon.

Sawayama Castle Ruins, Shiga

The vista surrounding us was incredibly beautiful. I sat and thought about Mitsunari and his family, how they were all killed and the castle was burned by the order of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Still, Mitsunari had been honored and remembered.

Sawayama Castle Ruins


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