When the city of Matsue was founded shortly after the historical battle of Sekigahara which thrust Japan into the Tokugawa system of government, protecting one’s samurai lord from attack was of prime importance. Therefore the entire city was planned around the castle–and protecting it.

Thankfully the castle is still unscathed by anything more than time, and while many of the other measures are clearly no longer in effect so as to allow free flow of commoners into the castle grounds, you can still find evidence of these measures throughout the city. For instance, if I take the neighborhood route on the way home from work, I run into this.

Where did the road go? I could have sworn I saw a bridge around here!

Oh, there it is.

In modern times, we’d write this off to pour city planning, but infact this was intended to make continuing straight on a little more difficult. This way, when armies are invading, they have to slow down to march around a tight corner before they can continue across. There are a couple other sites like this in town, and this one is called “Sujikaibashi”.

To the north of the bridge, there was a clearing so that the samurai on the defense could have an easy place to start shooting them with arrows. Furthermore, the bridge was engineered in such a way that it could be very quickly burned down when enemies were approaching.

The area had it’s practical everyday uses, too. This is what remains of the steps now to the canal for everyday water transport.

Another view from the north…

And a view looking west–depending on the time of day, you could blind approaching attackers!