Saturday, March 29, 2014

Inuyama Castle -Traditional style original main tower besides river-

Inuyama Castle

-Traditional style original main tower besides river-



Name: Inuyama castle (Inuyama-jo)
Alias: Hakutei-jo (Hakutei castle)
Place: Inuyama-Kitakoken Inuyama city, Aichi
Location: 35.38840290391158, 136.93926345092927
Type: Hill castle
Built: Originally 15th century, expanded in 16th century
Remaining remnants: Main tower, stone walls and moats
Title: 12 original main towers, 100 famous Japanese castles, National Treasure

Brief History

Inuyama castle (犬山城) is located on a hill at Inuyama city, just beside Kiso river. Due to its beautiful shape next to river, Inuyama castle is compared to “Hakutei-jyo” (Baidicheng, a castle located on the hill beside the Yangtze river in Chongqing city, China).

Inuyama castle is one of 12 castles have original main tower (Tenshukaku). Remaining main tower is three story four floors with two basement floors, and a turret is attached at the side of entrance. The shape of main tower is watchtower style (Boro-gata), an old style of main tower. 

This main tower is a small one but due to its complex form, it shows us different shapes depend on the angle.  Among 12 remaining main towers, Inuyama castle is nominated as National Treasure, among with Matsumoto castle, Hikone castle and Himeji castle.

Precise year of completion of main tower is unclear, but it is said that current shape is formed in early 16th century. Formerly it was said that the main tower was transferred from abolished Kaneyama castle, but based on the investigation this story is denied (Stones and materials might be transferred).

Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), the first ruler of Sengoku era, seized whole central Japan and was close to reaching a unification of Japan in 30 years after he succeeded leader position of Oda clan in 1551. But different from computer games, he consumed 13 years to unite only Owari country (western part of Aichi prefecture) unexpectedly, and Inuyama castle was the final target of his unification.

Struggle of Nobunaga to unite Owari country

Oda clan was originally a house of deputy governor of Owari country (governor was Shiba clan but nominal), and there were two major house at Iwakura castle and Kiyosu castle. Nobuhide Oda (1510-1551), father of Nobunaga, was originally just a vessel of Oda clan at Kiyosu castle. But he governed Tsushima port, a major port of current era, and utilizing his wealth he lead other Oda people and fought with surrounding warlords such as Saito clan, governor of Mino province (Gifu prefecture) or Imagawa clan, governor of Suruga province (middle part of Shizuoka prefecture) who dominated Mikawa province (eastern part of Aichi prefecture). But he just gathered other lords but not dominated, then after the death of Nobuhide in 1551, other lords left Nobunaga and Nobunaga had to start from nothing.

In 1554, Nobutomo Oda (?-1555), the leader of Kiyosu Oda clan, killed Yoshimune Shiba (1513-1554), the governor of Owari. Even if he was just a nominal governor, utilizing this as a protext, with his uncle Nobumitsu (1516-1556) Nobunaga killed Nobutomo and seized Kiyosu castle. Just after that Nobumitsu was assassinated, and it is said that this is Nobunaga’s plot fears Nobumitsu’s growth.

Next to this, in 1556, Dousan Saito (1494-1556) who was a governor of Mino country (Gifu prefecture) and supported Nobunaga was defeated by his son Yoshitatsu Saito (1527-1561) and died. In this year, thinking this as an opportunity, Nobukatsu Oda (?-1557, known as Nobuyuki), a younger brother of Nobunaga, revolted against Nobunaga with Nobunaga’s retainers such as Katsuie Shibata (1522-1583). Nobunaga defeated Nobuyuki at the battle of of Inou, and once forgave Nobuyuki but he attempted another rebellion, thus Nobunaga had to kill him in 1557.

Remaining major enemy in Owari country was Iwakura Oda clan. In 1558 Nobunaga defeated Iwakura Oda clan at the battle of Anou, and next year Nobunaga siege Iwakura castle and captured, then Nobunaga once united Owari country at that point. In 1560, Yoshimoto Imagawa (1520-1560), a warlord of Suruga province (middle part of Shizuoka prefecture) invaded to Owari province with over 20,000 solders, but only with 3,000 troops Nobunaga beated and killed Yoshimoto at the battle of Okehazama. Nobunaga's army was well trained during above battles during 10 years and this fact was one reason of winning against overwhelming Imagawa army.

But Nobunaga's struggle did not come to an end. In 1562, Nobukiyo Oda (?-?), cousin of Nobunaga and lord of Inuyama castle revolted against Nobunaga, probably supported by Yoshitatsu Saito. But there was definite difference of power between them, and Nobunaga captured Inuyama castle in 1564 and Nobukiyo ran away. With this Nobunaga completely dominated Owari country, and started to expand to next countries. 

Castle after Nobunaga's period

After the death of Nobunaga at the accident of Honnoji in 1582, his successor Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598) appointed Sadakiyo Ishikawa (?-1626) as a commander of this castle. He transformed this castle into a modern one, and it is thought that the current shape of main tower was formed by him.

Ishikawa clan was expelled as he supported Toyotomi side lords at the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, and whole Owari country including Inuyama castle was governed by Owari domain, one of three special relative domain of Edo shogunate. Under Owari domain, Inuyama castle was governed by Naruse clan, a house of vessel of Owari domain.

Subsequent to Meiji revolution all buildings except for main tower were broken. Main tower had been held by Naruse clan personally, but in 2004 was transferred to a foundation. Main tower is nominated as a National Treasure along with Himeji castle, Matsumoto castle and Hikone castle.


20 minutes walk from Meitetsu Inuyama line Inuyama station, 30 minutes drive from Tomei Expressway Komaki interchange

Related Castles

Matsumoto Castle -Black main tower surrounded by mountains-
Hikone Castle -Red color armored army of Ii clan-
Himeji Castle -Castle of Kanbe and Hideyoshi-
Komakiyama Castle -Unexpected reuse at 15 years later-
Kaneyama Castle -Rowdy young general in Sengoku era-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

Notice: These photos were occasionally taken at snowy day but it is rare for this area.

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