Kyuden Kurogane-Hana was built around the Temple to Emma-O in the mouth of a steep valley, with a stream running through it and emptying into a shallow lake, the Heaven's Mirror, and surrounded by forests, [1] as Seto no Mori. A modest village, Kagami no Tengoku Mura, was built outside the castle. [2]

Founding Edit

Originally the building was military-based, intended to be the main defence of Lord Seto lands, against the ambitions of his bordering rival Lord Ieyasu. After three years of construction by Kaiu Engineers, the plans were changed. The keep had to host an Imperial funeral, as ordered by the new Emperor. Seto hired new architects to shift the building to a luxurious kyuden. What the Emperor saw only served to further please him, a place which combined military aspects with those of a courtly palace. He compared the castle to a piece of raw iron re-worked into the shape of a blossom. Lord Seto decided the castle to be known as Kyuden Kurogane-Hana, the “Iron-Flower Castle.” [3]

Notable Locations Edit

Public Locations Edit

  • The Reflection Pool: originally was intended to serve as the castle's moat. It was inhabited by koi, frogs, dragonflies, and other such denizens, while the surface bore floating lily-pads and lotus blossoms. [4]
  • The Three Tiers, or Musha-Gaeshi: was a tall stone base, where the castle grounds sat upon. The bottommost and largest tier was built directly upon the Musha-Gaeshi. The second tier was built up on top of the first and was surrounded by an inner moat. The third tier was elevated above the second tier and placed adjacent to the primary walls, and was separated from the other tiers by another gate and inner wall. [5]
  • The Splendid Ramp: began at the front gate, bypassed the first and second tiers entirely, and ended at the front gate of the honmaru tier. It had required ten years to complete. Stone barriers lined the edges, and continuous wooden handrails were capped at nine intervals with cast iron giboshi carved with the faces of fantastic creatures. It earned his name Lord Seto's wife, and became one of the castle's most popular features. [6]
  • The Kuruwa Pathways: were maze-like paths of the middle and lower tiers, a complex system of walls, courtyards, raised walkways, and bottlenecking gates. [7]
  • The Main Gate: the massive main gate led directly to the base of the Splendid Ramp, with two-tiered pagoda-style roof and grand wooden doors. Two huge stone statues of Fu Lions flanked it. [7]
  • Ninomaru Gate: separated the second tier from the first. Tall and narrow was flanked by statues of Ki-Rin spirits, and it led to the Kuruwa Pathways. [7]
  • Honmaru Gate: also placed at a kuruwa corner, but laid at the top of the Splendid Ramp, the entrance to the third tier. Painted in vibrant colors, it possessed a three-tiered pagoda rooftop, flanked by old-plated statues of coiled celestial dragons. [7]
  • The gates to Shinden Emma-O were set into the sturdy lesser walls that surrounded the temple. The doors were made from massive oak beams, lacquered and bearing elaborate carvings. On one door, a representation of the peaceful monk Yama smiled, while on the other, an empty suit of samurai armor stared menacingly, brandishing a naginata. [7]
  • A subterranean gateway blocked passage into the hidden escape tunnels in the castle's catacombs. It was made of cast iron and displayed a frowning mask representing the lost face of Emma-O. [8]
  • The Star Observatory: the southernmost tower had a hatch into the ceiling of the top room so that the sky could be exposed to the occupants. Eastern and western walls were left largely as open spaces. [8]
  • The Tea Room Tower: laid to the east, with a single large circle window facing west. [8]
  • Theater and Art Gallery: built from maple and oak, was located in the middle tier easily visible from the Splendid Ramp. Its design was best suited to kabuki theater. [8]
  • The Five Gardens: Two gardens were found on the first tier, two on the second, and the grandest one on the topmost tier. In this garden there was a miniature representation of the lands surrounding the old Imperial City of Otosan Uchi. After the Fall of Otosan Uchi the garden appeared in winter and completely barren, with black-barked and empty trees and frozen ponds. [9]
  • The Dojo: where the sensei trained the local bushi. [9]
  • The Barracks: one in each tier, they also had a small stable attached. [10]
  • Bathhouses: one in each tier. [11]
  • The Guest-Houses: a larger single house was on the first tier and two smaller ones were on the second. They were large pagoda-topped structures, with a decorated an entrance hall, an array of individual private living quarters for the guests, and a small kitchen area. [11]
  • Storehouses: made of thick plaster, they were numerous and spacious. [11]
  • The Tent Grounds: was a vast open space intended for the placement of tents on the first tier. [11]
  • The Inner Moat: surrounded the edge of the second tier, could be crossed through the Ninomaru Gate. [11]

The Seto Palace Edit

The Seto Palace was set on the highest tier, in theback adjacent to the castle walls to serve also as a lookout tower. It appeared to have eight stories on the outside, though in fact the interior had only seven. [11]

  • In the first floor were the Cypress Room, a smal reception room, the Main Reception Room, the Quarters of the Imperial Herald, the Grand Hall, the Living Quarters for Honored Guests, the Servant's Living Quarters, and the kitchen. [12]
  • In the second floor were more Living Quarters for Honored Guests, the Pine Room, and the Private Audience Chamber. [12]
  • In the Thrid Floor were more Living Quarters for Honored Guests and rooms for several functions. [12]
  • In the Fourth Floor were more Living Quarters for Honored Guests and the Balcony. [12]
  • In the Fifth Floor were the Living Quarters of the Daimyo and the Living Quarters of the House Guard. [12]
  • In the Sixth Floor were the Imperial Quarters. [12]
  • The small seventh floor was used primarily for storage, but also granted access to the castle's pagoda rooftops. [13]

Meeting Point Edit

In the 12th century the kyuden was visited by the famous ronin duelist Hisao. [14]


  1. Book of Air, p. 135
  2. Book of Air, p. 140
  3. Book of Air, pp. 136-139
  4. Book of Air, p. 141
  5. Book of Air, p. 142
  6. Book of Air, pp. 142-143
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Book of Air, p. 143
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Book of Air, p. 144
  9. 9.0 9.1 Book of Air, p. 145
  10. Book of Air, pp. 145-146
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Book of Air, p. 146
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Book of Air, p. 147
  13. Book of Air, p. 148
  14. Book of Air, pp. 133-134

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