Photo/IllutrationPart of a fortress wall and its base stone dating back to the period of Toyotomi Hideyoshi is unearthed on the former site of Fushimi Castle. (Provided by Simmon)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

KYOTO--A stone wall burned in a skirmish prior to the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 has been discovered on the former site of the much-storied Fushimi Castle here.

“There is a possibility that the stone wall is actually part of the foundations of a building,” said Yoshihiro Senda, a castle archaeology professor at Nara University. “The discovery is significant in that it could shed light on some details behind the mystery of Fushimi Castle, which is said to have been a luxurious and splendid fortress.”

No one knows exactly how splendid because it was destroyed by an earthquake, rebuilt and then burned to the ground.

Construction of the legendary castle began in 1592 on Shigetsu hill in Kyoto’s Momoyama district at the behest of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598).

It is known as Shigetsu Fushimi Castle.

Although the fortress collapsed in the Keicho earthquake in 1596, it was rebuilt by Hideyoshi on northeastern Mount Kohatayama and became known as Kohatayama Fushimi Castle.

Just before the Battle of Sekigahara, enemy forces surrounded the castle to fight retainers of Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616) holed up in the fortress in what is called the Siege of Fushimi.

While the castle was destroyed by fire in the battle, it was later rebuilt yet again and administered by Ieyasu.

“It was believed that Ieyasu’s new castle was built to some extent based on Hideyoshi’s one, but (the latest findings show) the design of the castle had drastically changed,” said Tomomitsu Umase, a section head of the Kyoto city government’s cultural property preservation section.

“We need to rethink what Fushimi Castle really looked like during the Hideyoshi's rule.”

Senda added, “Ieyasu likely rebuilt the castle quickly as a symbol of shogunate after the fortress was destroyed by fire.”

Private excavation survey firm Simmon said Dec. 14 the stone wall was unearthed at the foot of a slope west of the main keep of Kohatayama Fushimi Castle in the ancient capital’s Fushimi Ward.

The base stone and the bottom part of a fortress wall measures 4 meters north to south.

As the wall is reddish, cracked and covered with charred soil, it likely was exposed to flames when the castle was destroyed by fire at the Siege of Fushimi.

Meanwhile, a gap to install another 60-centimeter-long stone wall was unearthed 2.5 meters west of the burned wall.

The gap, dug parallel to and around the wall, was likely made during Ieyasu’s restoration of the castle, according to Simmon officials.

Tiles bearing the family crest of Hideyoshi, some of which are covered in gold foil, were also discovered west of the remains of the Ieyasu wall.

As the discovery site has been reburied, no on-site explanatory sessions are planned.