Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tsuchiura Castle -Castle with original gates and water moats-

Tsuchiura Castle

-Castle with original gates and water moat-



Name: Tsuchiura castle (Tsuchiura-jo)
Alias: Kame jo (Turtle castle)
Place: Chuo Tsuchiura city, Ibaraki
Location: 36.08478839576502, 140.19827378971615
Type: Flat castle
Built: Originally 14th century, expanded in 17th century
Remaining remnants: Three gates, clay walls and water moats
Title: 100 more famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Tsuchiura castle (土浦城) is located in Tsuchiura city, east lake shore of Lake Kasumigaura. Tsuchiura city is a connecting point of Mito-Kaido road and waterborne in Lake Kasumigaura and an important place from ancient time.

Build by Oda clan

In the medieval era, there was a local lord named Oda clan, a traditional house stem from Kamakura era (12th century) and regarded as one of eight traditional clans in Kanto region. Oda clan governed southwest part of Hitachi country (Ibaraki prefecture), and built a castle near Lake Kasumigaura to control shipping in the lake in 15th century. 

Formerly lake Kasumigaura was a part of Katori sea, a huge inner sea spread the border of current Chiba prefecture and Ibaraki prefecture, contained current Lake Kasumigaura, Lake Inbamuna and Lake Teganuma. Thus importance of Tsuchiura was far greater than today.

Struggle for Tsuchiura castle between Oda clan and Satake clan

During Sengoku era of 16th century, weakened Oda clan was surrounded by large powers such as Uesugi clan, Hojo clan and Satake clan. Ujiharu Oda (1534?-1602), leader of Oda clan at that time, continued tenacious fighting with Uesugi clan or Satake clan under the support from Hojo clan. Ujiharu lost Oda castle several times but each time he retreated to Tsuchiura castle and recovered Oda castle later.

But in 1569 Ujiharu lost Oda castle again by Satake clan, and this time also Tsuchiura castle was captured in 1573. Under such situation Ujiharu still fought for recover his territory over 10 years managed to keep his house but finally lost all territory along with Hojo clan, which was conquered by Toyotomi government at 1592. Satake clan held Tsuchiura castle before the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, but they were also transferred to Dewa province (Akita prefecture) after the battle.

Afterward of Tsuchiura castle

In Edo era, as an important place of communication, Edo shogunate placed its hereditary retainer on this castle. Tsuchiura castle was expanded into a modern castle surrounded by three layer moats, and due to its round shape and location next to lake, this castle was called as Kame jo (Turtle castle). 

Subsequent to Meiji revolution outer areas and most buildings were lost, but inner areas are used as a park and three gates still remain as original. Especially the two story turret gate (Yagura Mon) is the only one original remaining in Kanto region and valuable. 

In addition to this, two corner turrets were reconstructed in 1992 and 1998 respectively (Western turret is rebuilt using original material kept after dismantling). Even though a small area but a scene consists of old buildings and water moats is impressive.


15 minutes walk from JR East Jobansen line Tsuchiura station. 15 minutes drive from Joban-do Expressway Sakura-Tsuchiura interchange or Tsuchiura-Kita interchange.

Related Castles

Oda Castle -A traditional clan of indomitable-


Pictures (click to enlarge)

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