Donations sought to restore Mito Castle
The Japan News -- May 25
The Mito city government is seeking donations from companies and individuals to help restore major parts of Mito Castle: the Otemon main gate, the Ninomaru Sumiyagura watch tower within the outer structures of the castle and the castle walls.

The city government has been asking for donations since May 1 to purchase traditional kawara roof tiles needed for the reconstruction work. Each donor's name will be written on a list called homeicho as "the castle lord of one tile," and the list will be preserved permanently. Depending on the amount of their donation, donors will also be awarded various memorial gifts, such as traditional plates called tegata.

According to the Mito municipal board of education, historical records say the structure that preceded the current Mito Castle was built from the late 12th century to early 13th century by warlord Baba Sukemoto. The building was later greatly expanded by warlord Satake Yoshinobu, and then by the Tokugawa shogunate.

The castle lost its function as a samurai lord's headquarters when the government that followed the Meiji Restoration (1868) abolished the han fiefdom system and replaced it with prefectures.

In air raids on the city in the last years of the Pacific War, most parts of the castle were burned down, including a three-story structure that formed the tenshukaku central tower.

During the Edo period (1603-1867), the Otemon was the main gate of the castle and the Ninomaru Sumiyagura formed the outer enclosure. The two structures were connected by a wall hundreds of meters long.

Partly to promote tourism, the city government plans to reconstruct the three structures as a set. It aims to complete the work by the end of fiscal 2019.

To encourage public interest in the reconstruction plan, the city government decided to ask for donations to purchase kawara roof tiles, which will be used for the roofs of the structures. Clay produced in Mito will be used to help the tiles resemble those of Mito Castle in the Edo period.

News source: The Japan News
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