Edo (Yedo) Castle, constructed in 1457, transformed Tokyo (then called Edo) from a small fishing village into an urban center for trade, culture, and politics. Edo Castle became the official residence of the Tokugawa shogun who ruled Japan from 1603 to 1867. Upon the shogun’s arrival in 1603, the castle was in shambles, requiring an extensive 40 year reconstruction project. The castle was upgraded to be an appropriate residence for the shogun as well as an administration center for a unified Japan. At the time, it was the biggest castle in the world with a defensive perimeter of over 10 miles comprised of an inner and outer moat. The moats were crossed by 36 gates or watchtowers, each heavily guarded. In 1868 the Tokugawa shogun’s power toppled and the emperor was restored to the supreme ruling position, ending the feudal era and ushering the modernization of Japan. Emperor Meiji resided at the castle from 1868 to 1888 before moving to the newly constructed Imperial Palace. Unfortunately, there is little that remains of the original castle structure today. Much of it had been destroyed due to fires and earthquakes, including most of the gates. The remnants are currently being preserved as historical landmarks.
This extravagant publication at the end of the 19th century tried to capture the magnificence of the gates for tourists and historians alike. Each of the 36 gates is depicted in color with an accompanying historical description.