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Chinese castle vs Japanese castle


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I am a fan of castle and love to tour the castles everywhere.

I am quite curious that most castles in Japan, like the Osaka and Himeji castles (the former rebuilt twice), are kept in good shape while complete and intact Chinese castles are almost non-existent.

In the huge Nanjing castle, only sections are left. In Beijing, other than the Forbidden City which strictly speaking is a group of palaces, the original Beijing castle wall left is only the Tiananman section.

Once I joined a "Three Kongdom" tour, surprisingly some small castles in Hubei are still comparatively well-kept.

Why is Japanese castle well-preserved while Chinese castles hard to maintain?

Here is the reason I can think of:

Chinese castle encompassed the whole city while Japanese castle was merely a part of the city. In Chinese castle, all citizens (except the peasants) lived inside the castle wall while in Japanese castles, only the daimyo and retainers lived inside the castle. All the other civilians lived in front of the castle.

So in most cases, Japanese castles are smaller than Chinese castles which made the former easier to preserve. And unfortunately for the Chinese castles, when the government wants to modernize, i.e. build roads for the residents who live inside the castle wall, the only way out is demolition.

Another slight difference between Chinese and Japanese castles is that the formers usually have moats surrounding but not the latter.

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CLDragon

i've lived in Nanjing, there is a "castle" there ( it's really like a wall..) i am not sure which is more affective during combat, since i never witnessed a japanese castle, but i can tell you this: they are not demolishing the castle walls completly(at least not in Nanjing) they simply build around it because there are already many exits in the wall, last year when i went back, the taxi actualy told us a piece of history of the city walls here and there.

i think the chinese made the walls big due to protection, because when the whole city is surrounded it's easier to defend since there are only 4 exits. (or 8..) plus it's easier to catch wanted criminals, they just close off the castle exits.

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I think fortified Japanese castles would fare quite well in samurai warfare, but would be useless in ancient China, where wars were fought between very large kingdoms employing hundreds of thousands of troops and advanced siege weapons.

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skylee

Sorry I don't know much about castles. But I think the Himeji castle and the one in Hakodate in Hokkaido (called 五稜郭 and is the last castle built in Japan IIRC) are beautiful. The one in Nanjing and the one in Suzhou (not really something like Japanese castles) are also quite good.

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I think fortified Japanese castles would fare quite well in samurai warfare, but would be useless in ancient China, where wars were fought between very large kingdoms employing hundreds of thousands of troops and advanced siege weapons.

And how is that different from the Europeans? :-?

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China doesn't have castles, but fortified towns. The closest thing to a castle would be the fortified gates of the fortified towers. Japan and other neighbours tried to copy the fortified city, but for Japan it wasn't very successful and when the Warring States period came over, castles were built for each of the generals of the area. For Europe, walled cities were only built when there is an impending attack like the old city of Sparta or Troy. Usually it was done before the Roman Empire fell. And usually it is done with heavy timber rather than bricks. And huge stone blocks if the city grows and needs the protection. After the Roman Empire fell, cities would expand by surrounding a lord who grants protection from the castle.

Most of the gates and towers in China are kept in good shape, even though the wall may be torn down because it is considered a barrier to modern progress. For example the old wall of Beijing is now the subway, but most of the gates are still there and left as museums.

-Shibo :mrgreen:

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Actually there are castles as well as fortified towns in China.

In Chinese, there are different word for castle/fortified town according to the size of garrison and population.

The largest type is which is fortified town or city that could be as huge as Beijing or Nanjing. But in Japan, it referred to castle which was much smaller in size. However, in ancient Korea, it was more like China when its capital was called 漢城.

The other type is which is smaller in size that resembles Japan's with mainly government officials and garrisons inside. The four towns in Gansu corridor and even Huhhot in late 19th century fit the description of a castle in western sense.

The other smaller kind of fortress is which is very close to the kind of wooden fortress in America West.

In fact, if you travel by railway in Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang, you will stop by many small train stations with the names of either or (of course, those fort-like structures are long gone).

Generally speaking, 城 was found in China Proper while and were found in the frontier.

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monkey_c

Xi'an's city wall is complete and intact. They offer shuttle service or you can ride along it by bicycle. When you're riding along it, you can feel the immense scale of it. It stands higher than the Great Wall and wider at the top and base. Comparing to the Great Wall section at Badaling.

Been to both Osaka Castle and Himeji Castle; makes these feel like a tent.

Too bad the rest of Xi'an city is so fugly.

Just want to rant that Chinese tourist sites are poorly maintained and lack a sense of good taste. They like to plant geometric rows of flowers in white plastic pots in a lot of these places. Very tacky and plastic looking. No sense of traditional Chinese aesthetics.

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I remember reading that there were only two (or some such tiny number) of authentic castles in Japan and the others are reconstructed. It was in a book about a guy who hitchhiked from south to north Japan, but I forget the name.

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skylee
I remember reading that there were only two (or some such tiny number) of authentic castles in Japan and the others are reconstructed.

Should be Himeji Jo (姬路城) and Matsumoto Jo (松本城), IIRC. But there should be others ... like Hikone Jo (彥根城). I visited 彥根城 last year during my trip to Biwako (琵琶湖) and IIRC it is also an original ...

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Jack MacKelly
And how is that different from the Europeans? :-?

Japan castles are pretty, it was some years before the 1700s when Japanese first laid eyes on those pistols the Western devils carried and had been using to kill eachother for hundreds of years earlier. Shogun rulers were so frightened of foreigners and their pistols that they banned everything foreign Japan's shores and expelled all foreigners, the samurai were terrified that foreigners were going to blow all their Japanese castles into little bits Later after years of isolation and xenophobia the foreigner Commodore Matthew Perry broke the ice, an American naval commander, sailed into a Japanese harbor with four steam-powered warships and demanded the Japanese begin trade...the Japanese spent the next few decades kiss the feet of the Western man.

European Castles and Westren fortress are not pretty, they were built to take punishment from Trebuchets, Flame arrows, Catapults, Cannon fire, riles, flaming crossbow attacks, Torsion Catapult, motar attacks, Siege Warfare....

http://www.south-of-france-holidays.com/images/carcassonne-castle.jpg

http://www.indirectsunlight.com/images/scotland/2003-09-02/2003-09-02--Edinburgh%20Castle%20view%20from%20the%20cannon.jpg

http://www.questconnect.org/IMAGES/Russian_cannon.jpg

http://www.sit.edu/studyabroad/europe/img/phot_spr_castle.jpg

http://www.route-chateaux-auvergne.org/polignac_deuxieme.jpg

Japan Castles look very good, Japan has been one of the worlds most powerful economies, so they had plenty of money to restore their own castles

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Japan castles are pretty, it was some years before the 1700s when Japanese first laid eyes on those pistols the Western devils carried and had been using to kill eachother for hundreds of years earlier. Shogun rulers were so frightened of foreigners and their pistols that they banned everything foreign Japan's shores and expelled all foreigners, the samurai were terrified that foreigners were going to blow all their Japanese castles into little bits Later after years of isolation and xenophobia the foreigner Commodore Matthew Perry broke the ice, an American naval commander, sailed into a Japanese harbor with four steam-powered warships and demanded the Japanese begin trade...

The Japanese were introduced to firearms in 1543 by the Portuguese, and they quit using them because they felt that they took the glory and individual heroism out of battle.* Also, I'm pretty sure that the Tokugawa shogunate expelled foreigners and closed the country to foreign trade because they feared the Christian missionaries had plans to take over the country, or they at least didn't trust them. There were some Dutch traders who lived in Japan at the time, though, on an island in Osaka bay, I believe (can't remember the name right now). Japan also still traded with China at that time. Also it should be noted that the Japanese were introduced to canon by the Mongolians who invaded the country in the 13th century as well, though they didn't take the liking to them that they did to the Portuguese guns.

*This from Noel Perrin's Giving Up the Gun: Japan's Reversion to the Sword, 1543-1879.

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  • 1 month later...
大肚子

Another possible difference is that in China division, and so conflict, was generally the exception rather than the rule, as in Japan and Europe. Hence less need for castles. I could be talking rubbish, though, my knowledge of Chinese history doesn't extend to exactly how many wars there were during each period of history, or how many fortifications were built.

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In the Lord of the Ring: Twin Towers, they fought a war in a castle. The men guarded on the top of the city wall and the enemies used ladders to climb and rushed into the castle. Although the human soldiers did have a better position because they could attack from above, I was not satisfied with the defending system. It took me some time to think about it. We shouldn’t even give enemies the chance to directly engage with us. We should utilize the advantages of the castle. I finally reached the solution that actually had been used in ancient China. A canal surrounding the city wall, so-called 护城河. And the gate should work as a bridge when lying down. Is the system unique to Chinese? It shouldn’t. But I don’t know why they had such an easy-to-break castle in the Lord of the Ring.

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skylee
A canal surrounding the city wall, so-called 护城河. And the gate should work as a bridge when lying down. Is the system unique to Chinese? It shouldn’t. But I don’t know why they had such an easy-to-break castle in the Lord of the Ring.

A moat. You can find them at castles around the world. And, LOTR is a film. :wink:

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Actually there are some exceptions that Japanese castles did have moats.

The famous Osaka Castle originally had moats when it was first constructed. But during the Spring Campaign of 1615, Tokugawa Ieyasu had a hard time to conquer Osaka Castle due to its deep moat and high wall. So Tokugawa made a truce with the Toyotomi retainers inside Osaka Castle by evacuating his army in return for filling up the moat with rock and mud.

Then in the following autumn, Toyotomi's great army returned. Without the protection of moat, Osaka Castle was engulfed by flame and Toyotomi clan was completely doomed.

Moat meant life or death in this case for the castle.

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