Second Draft

This Is Not a Castle

Posted in Research,WorldBuilding by Michael Skeet on Thursday, September 24, 2009
Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle

Not in any sense that we can use in Demon Gate, at any rate.

One of the things I have discovered in doing the research for this novel (and I am guilty of most of the political information that has found its way into the story) is how little popular information about Japanese history actually relates to the Sengoku Jidai, the period in which our story is set. Castles are one obvious example; swords and samurai behaviour is another (and I hope to post something about that soon as well).

The sort of castle of which Himeji is considered one of the most beautiful examples doesn’t just post-date the sengoku jidai, it post-dates the Tokugawa unification of the country in the seventeenth century. Few of these giant castles were ever involved in battle, and as beautiful as they are they would have been well beyond the capacity of any of the daimyo active in the early sixteenth century. It wasn’t until the middle of this century that anyone (Nobunaga, in fact) had the resources to build a castle with a proper keep, and surviving Japanese castles pretty much all date from the seventeenth century or later.

The castles built during the period in which Demon Gate are set were much less visually striking, to say nothing of being a lot smaller. I haven’t been able to find a copyright-free image that could illustrate what a hilltop castle (yamashiro) would have looked like at the time, but one thing’s for certain: it didn’t look anything like this.

(The big difference, of course, was gunpowder. We have deliberately set Demon Gate in the period before the introduction of firearms to Japan, and it was this fact that made it so important to daimyo that they build massive stone fortifications where previously they had safely sheltered behind wooden walls.)


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