Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hida Matsukura Castle -Short glory of Miki clan-

Hida Matsukura Castle

-Short glory of Miki clan-



Name: Hida Matsukura castle (Hida Matsukura-jyo)
Place: Matsukura cho Takayama city, Gifu
Type: Mountain castle
Built: 1579
Remaining remnants: Stone walls

Brief History

Hida Matsukura castle (飛騨松倉城) is located on Matsukura mountain at southwest of Takayama City. From the top of the mountain all of Takayama basin is well seen.

Medieval Hida and Miki clan

In the medieval era, there were several small lords in Hida province (northeastern Gifu prefecture) because it was a mountainous area and divided into small parts. Nominally governed by Anegakoji house, a noble house of Kyoto, but each loads subordinated to surrounding large powers, such as Takeda clan, a warlord governd Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture) and Shinano country (Nagano prefecture), or Uesugi clan governed Echigo province (Niigata prefecture) and Ecchu province (Toyama prefecture).

In mid of 16th century, Miki clan, a local lord, gained power and succeeded the name of Anegakoji clan. They changed their master from Takeda clan to Uesugi clan then finally Oda clan affected by the circumstance, and Yoritsuna Miki (1540-1587) expanded his territory under the support of Oda clan. After the death of Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582) at the incident of Honnoji in 1582, other lords unitedly attacked Yoritsuna who lacked support from Oda clan. But Yoritsuna beat his enemies and finally united Hida province in this year. Yoritsuna built a modern castle using stone walls at the top of  Matsukura mountain in 1579, as a symbol of his reign.

Structure of Hida Matsukura castle

Hida Matsukura is built over a narrow ridge spread east and westward from the peak. Central area of the castle is a 20 meter square area surrounded by low stone walls, but there is no clear basement in this central area thus main tower might not built. Corridor area guards south and west part of the central area and western slope of this corridor area equips over 10 meter tall beautiful stone walls  

Secondary area spread eastward from central area, where faces central Takayama city. North and south line of the area is not guarded by stone wall because of sheer slope, but east end of the area is securely protected by stone wall and there was a main gate of the castle here. Ahead of this main gate our area connects, and east edge of this outer area is also protected by low stone wall.

On the other hand, westside of the central area is third area and backside of the castle. As this side directly connects to next mountain, thus third area equips tall stone walls. West edge of central area is a small fort protected by tall stone wall, and there might be a turret to attack the enemy from backside. There is another ridge spread from northward from central area, but this ridge was too narrow and is not used as a part of castle. 

Hida Matsukura castle is not so large castle but equips good level stone walls and seems too much for local lord of small province. Stone walls of central area and main gate is not tall and rough, but walls of backside is technically advanced and seems progressive than remaining walls of Takayama castle later built by Kanamori clan. It is possible that Miki clan at first built stone walls of central area and secondary area directly seen from Takayama city to show their authority, and later Kanamori clan replaced Miki clan reformed it into a military fortress and added backside of the castle.

Fall of Miki clan and Hida Matsukura castle

However, after the death of Nobunaga, generals of Oda army started conflicts each other. Yoritsuna supported Narimasa Sasa (1536?-1588), former commander of Toyama castle at Ecchu province (Toyama prefecture), next of Hida country. Narimasa opposed to next ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598), so in 1585 Yoritsuna was attacked together with Narimasa by overwhelming Toyotomi army lead by his general Nagachika Kanamori (1524-1608) and expelled from Hida country. Glory of Miki clan stand for only three years.

After the fall of Miki clan, Nagachika Kanamori was appointed as a new governor of Hida province. Nagachika did not use Matsukura castle as his residence because it was too narrow to live, but as above this castle might be kept for a while as a military fortress in case of emergency. Finally this castle might be abolished between the battle of Sekigahara in 1600 and one castle one province rule published at 1616. Now stone walls of the castle well remain at the mountain, and half broken stone wall shows short glory of Miki clan.

Related Castles

Hida Takayama Castle -Castle of short life in beautiful town-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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