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Explore Fushimi Castle:The Story of Momoyama Castle’s Bloody Ceilings

Fushimi Castle is a fortified monument located in Fushimi ward, in the south-east of Kyoto in Japan. Also called Momoyama Castle, its origins date back to the end of the 16th century. Once a battlefield for Sengoku era warlords, the site is now forsaken by visitors.


Fushimi Momoyama Castle

Fushimi Castle for short was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who unified Japan. It became Toyotomi Hideyoshi's residence in his later years because it was located between Kyoto and Osaka, allowing for better control of the capital area. Toyotomi Hideyoshi was good at siege warfare, and Fushimi Castle, built in his later years, became a masterpiece of Japanese castles.

Reference for samurai

Before Tokugawa Ieyasu led his army to the east against the Uesugi clan, he expected that Ishida Mitsunari would take advantage of the situation and Fushimi Castle would be the first castle to be attacked. In order to preserve his strength, he left his own general, Genchu Torii, and more than 1,000 soldiers to defend Fushimi. The Torii family had served the Tokugawa family for generations, and Torii Mototada had grown up with Ieyasu as his childhood playmate. On the eve of their departure, Ieyasu and Mototada drank and talked late into the night, understanding that they would never see each other again. At the banquet, there was no courtesy between the king and his ministers, but only the love of brotherhood.


 Bloody patio

After Ieyasu left, Ishida Mitsunari raised an army of 40,000 men to besiege Fushimi Castle. Faced with an army 20 times the size of the enemy's, Genchu Torii was unafraid and defended the castle for more than 10 days, but was eventually outnumbered and defeated. Torii Genchu died bravely without surrendering or fleeing, and was praised by the samurai of the Western army as a reference for samurai.
It is said that the battle was so fierce that the blood of the dead and wounded samurai from both sides penetrated into the floor and stained the floor so red that it could not be washed away. When Fushimi Castle was demolished, the floorboards were used to build the patio of the main hall of Housen-in (located in the northeast of Kyoto), which is still said to be a bloody patio.

Blood ceilings


In 1623, Ieyasu had the fire-damaged Fushimi Castle dismantled, and sections of the castle that had not been burned or destroyed were salvaged. Some of the salvaged materials happened to be the floor boards upon which Torii Mototada and his men committed suicide to avoid capture. Their bloods had soaked so deep into the wood that the boards were permanently stained.In honor of their valiant sacrifice, these floor boards were incorporated, mainly as ceilings, into a number of castles and temples across Kyoto. They are known as chitenjo, or “blood ceilings”. The patterns on the darkened boards resemble little more than water stains, but on close examination, you can clearly see footprints and handprints.For those interested in visiting, the temples where you can see blood ceilings are, Genkoan, Shodenji, Yogenin, and Myoshinji in central Kyoto, Hosenin in the Ohara area, Jinouji in Yawata, and Koshoji in Uji.

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