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Hikone-jō, in Hikone, Shiga Prefecture,is one of the few Japanese castles with its original keep. When Toyotomi Hideyoshi died in 1598, a struggle for power ensued, which Tokugawa Ieyasu won by 1600. In 1603, the Tokugawa shogunate was established, with its capital at Edo (modern Tokyo), but Hideyoshi's son Hideyori, at Ōsaka, remained an obstacle to the establishment of a powerful and stable regime. Twelve-year-old Ii Naokatsu succeeded to family headship following his father's death in 1602 and ordered the construction of the castle the next year, under shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu's instructions. The keep had been originally built in 1575 as part of Ōtsu-jō and was moved to Hikone, while other parts of it were moved from Nagahama. Construction was largely completed in 1606, and Naokatsu moved there from Sawayama-jō. In 1614, the Toyotomi clan rebuilt Ōsaka-jō and sponsored the rebuilding of Hōkō-ji in Kyoto. These temple renovations included the casting of a great bronze bell, with provocative inscriptions on it. Meanwhile, Hideyori began to gather a military force at Ōsaka. Although Ieyasu had passed shogun to his son in 1605, he retained actual power and decided to take action and led 164,000 troops against his rival. Naokatsu was too ill to campaign, so he sent his younger brother Naotaka to fight on his behalf while he secured the Kantō region around Edo. The conflict ended with the destruction of the Hideyori clan in 1615, and Ieyasu rewarded Naotaka with the Ii family headship, though he allowed Naokatsu to form a branch family at Annaka in Kōzuke Province. When Naotake assumed control of the area around Ōmi Province, Naokatsu was able to complete the castle in 1622 by collecting stones from the former Sawayama-jō.When the Meiji era displaced the Tokugawa shogunate in 1868, many castles were scheduled to be dismantled in order to dismantle the feudal system, and only a request from the emperor himself, who was touring the area, kept Hikone-jō intact.
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