|A Guide of The Drum Gate|
Well, walking along the middle moat to the right and then left, well can get the view of the drum gate. It was first built in 1594 or 1595 right after the towers were built. It was destroyed in the Meiji period, sometime between November and December of 1871. It was very recently, ( completed the job in March ,1999 ) reconstructed in an exact replica of the original building. After that, for a year, we celebrated the festival of renewal, to campaign it all over Japan .
OK, this is the drum gate. As the name shows there were a drum and a bell which tell the time and inform the emergency. But reconstruction this time we couldn't rebuild the drum tower where they were placed, lacking of the information of the old picture of the original building or blueprint. It supposes to be up there, right front of us.
Well, everyone, the bridge we came across is special, because it gets narrower as it approaches the gate. This is called in Japanese unokubi, " the neck of the cormorant". It is narrow, like a cormorant's neck, and is designed to force approaching enemies into a narrow space so they will be easy to pick off. Although it was never used in battle, the castle was designed for real war, and you might find it interesting to imagine fighting your way in.
This gate has a box-shaped courtyard, as you notice first thing when you get in, the two gates are out of line with each other. Both of these features are tactical. You can see that there are loopholes on all sides, and the courtyard was basically a death trap. An enemy who could managed to get in would be hogs in the butchery to work their way around to the second gate. Matsumoto Castle had two more gates like drum gate, one was the Ote gate which we saw the site on the bridge before, and one more was the Black gate which coming up later.
Finally, before we move on to the castle, you might want to have a look at that big stone over there. That's called the Genba stone, and it's named after the lord of the castle at the time that the castle towers were built. Stones like this were a symbol of the power of the lord. They showed that he could mobilize enough people and enough technology to transport something very heavy, actually this stone weights over 26t., and about 4m. high. In fact, there is a slightly gory story about exactly how much loyalty the lords demanded. As they were pulling the stone along the road, one of the people who had to pull started complaining, and said ," This stone is too heavy." The foreman of the construction team immediately cut his head off, and the lord held it up with the spear before all the other workers, and said, " Right everybody, Pull!!" As you can see it got here from in the mountain of the east side of Matsumoto
The courtyard of drum gate was used as the place of gathering people for hark hunting or starting position of sankinkotai. During the Edo period, which was from 1600 to 1865 roughly, there was a law which stated that feudal lords in the regions had to go once every two years to Edo to pay their respects to the shogun.
Well, passing through this gate, we enter the castle within the castle. As we walk through the gate here, have a look above your head. Those are stone-dropping holes, for dropping stones on enemies as they come through.
Let's move on.
Unokubi and the second gate
Genba stone and the first gate