See a rare example of a jinya, a kind of combined government office and samurai residence. The living quarters are still intact, an extraordinary feature for buildings such as this. The Todo Family contributed greatly to Nabari’s development, and this site was declared an Important Cultural Property of Mie Prefecture in 1952. It is a six-minute walk from Nabari Station.

This article contains:

  • Access
  • What is the Todo Family Residence?
  • Who was Todo Takatora?
  • Who was Todo Takayoshi?

    Access
    Take the Kintetsu Osaka line to Nabari station. From the station, it is a six-minute walk (the west exit is most convenient). The house is closed on Mondays and Thursdays, as well as December 29 – January 3. (If a Japanese holiday falls on a Monday or Thursday, the house will be closed the following day.)Entry is 200 yen for adults, 100 yen for high school students, and free admission for younger ages.

    What is the Todo Family Residence?

    The central part of present Nabari is built on the former foundations of the residence of the Todo family, who ruled Nabari for generations in the Edo period (1600 – 1868). Todo Takatora, a famous general and castle architect, owned the land; however it was his adopted son, Todo Takayoshi, who eventually built the residence. When Todo Takayoshi was transferred to Nabari from Iyo province (present Ehime prefecture) in 1636, Nabari was in the stage of taking shape as a town. Takayoshi immediately embarked on a project to transform Nabari into a major castle town.

    The residence is an example of a jinya, a kind of combined government office as well as the house of the head of that government. In other words, you might call it a mini-castle, or a governor’s residence which also included government offices. After having his residence built on a hill where two important local families already had their residences, Takayoshi divided the town into sections and assigned them respectively as a residential district to his retainers, artisans and merchants who accompanied him from Iyo.

    In 1952 the house was declared an important cultural property of Mie Prefecture. About one-twentieth of the original residence of the Todo family still exists today, preserving the living quarters used by the family (the rest was, unfortunately, destroyed in the Great Nabari Fire of 1710). (The size of the original structure was about 18,910 square meters.) There are few former residents of high-ranking military class families found in Japan today, and you can rarely find one with the living quarters preserved. Additionally, the house combines both Momoyama-era styles and Edo-era styles, making it an even more unusual preservation. A sketch showing a birds-eye view of the residence has been preserved. It shows that the place was divided into functional sections, with the eastern sections used for public purposes, such as receiving guests, ceremonies and offices, and the western sections as the living quarters of the lord and his family. Inside the building, you will find a display of articles dating from the medieval period of wars from the mid-15th to the mid-16th century, such as swords, helmets and armor.

    Who was Todo Takatora?

    Todo Takatora (1556 – 1630) was a daimyo (high-ranking general). He is generally remembered for his successful military career (even including changing masters eight times) which resulted in a substantial accumulation of land and wealth in the form of koku (or yearly pledges of rice from the peasants who inhabited his lands). He is also known for his proficiency in building castles; he is generally regarded as one of the top three castle architects of Japan (the other two are Kato Kiyoma and Kuroda Kanbe).

    His family went through several misfortunes shortly after his birth and were reduced to farmer-status (peasantry). Having no way to make a livelihood, he joined the military at age 14. At the battle of Amegawa, he killed an opposing high-ranking official and thus gained status and the attention of his master. However, the following years were a somewhat chaotic blend of being a nearly-starved ronin (masterless samurai), joining masters, fighting battles, receiving tributes of land and koku, and then changing masters again. At one point, he even became a special advisor to the Emperor (a position known as kanpu). At another point, he renounced his military career in order to become a priest at Mt. Koya; Buddha’s teachings must not have appealed to him, however, because he was drawn back to a military career after the shogun offered him even more wealth. Throughout it all, the only constant which seems to have emerged is Takatora’s ability to continually accumulate victories, and the wealth that came along with them. He eventually became lord of Tsu and had land holdings in Iga and Ise (the land in Nabari was part of his Iga holdings), among other places.

    He built 23 castles over his life; his architectural style is marked by extremely high moat walls. Iga Ueno Castle and Osaka Castle, two castles still here today which are known for their high moat walls, were both built by him. On another note, the Emperor today still lives in Edo Castle, designed by Takatora. (For a complete list of the castles built by Takatora, please see below.)

    He was physically imposing, standing 6’3” (190 cm) tall, an impressive height not only for the time period, but also for someone who presumably grew up with a vitamin deficiency due to poverty. Due to battle injuries, his right hand was missing the ring and pinky fingers, while the left was missing its ring finger. His left foot lost its big toe.

    He told his son, Takatsuru, that in order to earn the loyalty of soldiers, a lord had to love his soldiers. Additionally, when asked if he would rather hire a ladies’ man or a gambler, all other considerations being equal, Takatora replied that he would rather hire the gambler due to the gambler’s desire to win.

    In 1623, at the age of 67, he started going blind due to an eye disease; complete blindness, followed by death, came in 1630. He was 75.

    Castles Built By Todo Takatora

Name (Japanese)Name (English)PrefectureYear of Completion
出石城IzushiHyogo1583
大和郡山城Yamato KoriyamaNara1585
京都聚楽第Kyoto JurakudaiKyoto1586
粉河城KokawaWakayama1587
赤木城AkagiMie1589
伏見城FushimiKyoto1594
宇和島城UwajimaEhime1596
伊予大洲城IyooozuEhime1597
膳所城ZezeShiga1601
甘崎城AmazakiEhime1601
灘城NadaHyogo1601
今治城ImabariEhime1602
伏見城FushimiKyoto1602
江戸城EdoTokyo1606
津城TsuMie1608
伊賀上野城Iga UenoMie1608
丹波篠山城Tanba SasayamaHyogo1609
丹波亀山城Tanba KameyamaHyogo1610
二条城NijoKyoto1619
和歌山城WakayamaWakayama1619
大坂城OsakaOsaka1620

Who was Todo Takayoshi?

In 1952, the Todo Family Residence was declared an important cultural property of Mie Prefecture. This caused new attention to be cast upon Todo Takayoshi, the man responsible for the construction of the residence. Previously he had been overshadowed by his father and garnered little historical attention.

Todo Takayoshi (1579 – 1670) was the adopted son of Todo Takatora. He was born to Niwa Nagahide, but was adopted by Hidenaga in 1563. Hidenaga was then forced by the shogun (Hideyoshi) to give up Takayoshi. Later, Takatora asked Hideyoshi to allow him to adopt Takayoshi. For the majority of his childhood, Takayoshi lived at Imabara castle. Takatora later had his own son and stopped paying much attention to Takayoshi.

Though he is not known for any particularly large accomplishment, he did have a solid military career. His introductory battle was part of an invasion of Korea at the age of 13. Like his adoptive father, he too collected victories and the tributes that came with them, albeit on a much smaller scale than his father. He is also known as being the builder of the Todo Family Residence. He is also credited with, in general, contributing to Nabari’s planning and construction.