Monday, March 24, 2014

Kameyama Castle (Ise) -Sudden downfall of veteran commander after his master's death-

Kameyama Castle (Ise)

-Sudden downfall of veteran commander after his master's death-



Name: Kameyama castle (Kameyama-jo)
Alias: Kocho- jo (Butterfly castle)
Place: Honmaru-cho Kameyama city, Mie
Location: 34.856168742688986, 136.45064295365623
Type: Hill castle
Built: Originally 13th century, expanded in 17th century
Remaining remnants: Tamon turret, stone walls, clay walls, moats and entrance of secondary area palace (moved)

Brief History

Kameyama castle (亀山城) is located on a hill looking down in Tokaido way in Kameyama city. Kameyama city is a place where Tokaido road, the most important road in Japan, goes across Suzuka pass from Ise province (Mie prefecture) to Omi province (Shiga prefecture), and there had been a gate at this place from ancient era.

During medieval era, northwestern part of Ise province was governed by Seki clan. Seki clan is said as a descendant of Taira clan, a powerful clan of 12th century, and came to Ise country in 13th century. The head family of Seki clan built a castle at Kameyama and lived, and branch families spread to next areas, including Kanbe family resided at Kanbe castle.

In 1568, Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), a warlord of Owari province (western part of Aichi prefecture) and just seized Mino province (Gifu prefecture), turned his army to Ise country. Seki clan and Kanbe clan resisted to this, but finally surrendered to Nobunaga. Territory was decreased but Seki clan managed to keep the family, and served for Kazumasu Takigawa (1525-1586), a general of Oda clan.

After the death of Nobunaga at the accident of Honnoji in 1582, suddenly northern part of Ise country became the battlefield. Two commanders of Oda army, Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598) and Katsuie Shibata (1522-1583), fought for the initiative of Oda clan, and Seki clan supported Hideyoshi. In response to this, Kazumasu who supported Katsuie attacked Seki clan, and occupied northern Ise province including Kameyama Castle.

Glory and misfortune of Kazumasu Takigawa

Kazumasu Takigawa was born in Koga region, southern part of Oumi province. Kouga region was known as a place of Ninja along with Iga area, and Kazumasu is also said as originally Ninja. He wandered many countries and was hired by Nobunaga, then distinguished himself by braveness and skill of operating matchlock gunners. Leading local lords, Kazumasu fought at various places as mobile force of Oda clan, including the battle of Nagashino against Takeda clan in 1575 and the battle of Tedorigawa against Uesugi clan in 1576.

When Nobunaga extinguished Takeda clan in 1582, Kazumasu was given Kouzuke country (Gunma prefecture) and entered Maebashi castle, then was appointed as a general commander in Kanto region by Nobunaga. This was the peak of Kazumasu, but did not last long. In the same year Nobunaga died at the accident of Honnoji, and Kazumasu in Kouzuke country was attacked by Hojo clan once subordinated to Nobunaga.

Kazumasu just came to Kouzuke country and could hardly organize local lords, but fought with Hojo army at Kannagawa river at the border and once won. But finally he was defeated by huge Hojo army and barely run away to Ise province, thus his influence among Oda generals was lost.

At the conflict between Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Katsuie Shibata as a successor of Nobunaga in 1582, Kazumasu belonged to Katsuie and occupied northwestern Ise region including Kameyama castle. Facing dominant Toyotomi army Kazumasu fought stubbornly, but after the defeat of Katsuie, Kazumasu surrendered to Hideyoshi and retired.

Two years later there was another battle between Hideyoshi, and an ally of Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616) and Nobukatsu Oda (1558-1630), the third son of Nobunaga. Hoping for recovery Kazumasu supported Hideyoshi and occupied Kanie castle, his former residence held by Nobukatsu, but was soon attacked by Tokugawa army and opened castle. Kazumasu totally lost his fame and retired, then died in despair two year later. It was a sudden downfall unexpected from his former achievement.

Afterward of the castle

After Kazumasu's surrender, Hideyoshi placed Yoshikatsu Okamoto (1544-1600) as a commander of Kameyama castle. Yoshikatsu expanded this castle into a modern castle equips main tower and stone walls, but later this main tower was demolished by performer’s misunderstanding of Edo Shogunate’s order to break the main tower of Kameyama castle in Tanba province (Kyoto prefecture), having the same name of this castle. Throughout Edo era, due to the importance of this area, hereditary retainer of Edo Shogunate was appointed as lords of Kameyama castle.

Subsequent to Meiji revolution most buildings were broken, but Tamon turret (single story barrack type turret) on the top of beautifully curved tall stone walls still remains, and regarded as a symbol of the city. In addition to this, the entrance of secondary area palace is moved to neighbor temple and used as a hall, and one gate is used as a one of factory at distant place. Former Tokaido road passes just below of the castle, and it is a good hiking course with many traditional style houses.


15 minutes walk from JR Central /JR West Kansai line Kameyama station. 10 minutes drive from Higashi-Meihan Expressway Kameyama interchange.

Related Castles

Maebashi Castle -Castle tossed about by nature and times-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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