Strongholds of the Samurai: Japanese Castles 250-1877

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Osprey, 2009 - Architecture - 272 pages
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The first proper fortifications in Japan began to develop with the appearance of the first emperors around 250. Although initially fortifications were simply wooden constructions, as internal strife became a way of life in Japan, more and increasingly elaborate fortifications were built. By the mid-16th century elaborate and beautiful traditional stone castles were wide spread. At the same time, rivalries between different monastic orders led to the development of fortified Buddhist temples and monasteries until the suppression of the warrior monks under Tokugawa Ieyasu. The 19th century saw the development of European-style forts, and the strengthening of costial defences against incursions by the West.

This book not only studies the entire period of Japanese castle development from the very first fortifications, through to the sophisticated structures of the 16th and 17th century and beyond to the 19th century, but also covers the castles built to control Korea during the brief samurai invasion in the late 16th century and the development of fortified temples and monasteries in Japan. The text also explains how castles were adapted to accommodate the introduction of firearms in the 16th century, and explores life within Japanese fortifications. With photographs from the author's private collection and full-color artwork, including detailed cutaways, this is an essential guide to the fascinating development of Japanese fortifications.

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Review: Strongholds of the Samurai: Japanese Castles 250-1877

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While this was very little more than the combination of the four Osprey Fortresses (also written by Mr Turnbull), it was still an interesting read and added some extra information on a variety of topics. Read full review


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About the author (2009)

Stephen Turnbull took his first degree at Cambridge University, and received a PhD from Leeds University for his work on Japanese religious history. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the Far East and also runs a well-used picture library. His work has been recognised by the awarding of the Canon Prize of the British Association for Japanese Studies and a Japan Festival Literary Award. He currently divides his time between lecturing in Japanese Religion at the University of Leeds and writing.

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