Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Kanbe Castle -Hard life of former ruler's sons-

Kanbe Castle

-Hard life of former ruler's sons-



Name: Kanbe castle (Kanbe-jo)
Place: Kanbe-cho Suzuka city, Mie
Type: Flat castle
Built: Originally 14th century, expanded in 16th century
Remaining remnants: Stone walls, clay walls, moats, turret (transferred) and gate (transferred)

Brief History

Kanbe castle (神戸城) is located at Kanbe town of Suzuka city, in the north part of Mie prefecture.
This town is located at Sanguu Kaido, a road departs from Tokaido way to Ise shrine.
Kanbe castle was built by local lord Kanbe clan in 13th century, Kanbe clan was a branch family of Seki clan at Kameyama castle, and they governed northern area of Ise country cooperatively since this century.

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 northern area of Ise province (Mie prefecture). Kanbe clan resisted to this with neighbor lord Seki clan, but finally surrendered to Nobunaga under a condition of adopting Nobutaka Oda (1558-1583), third son of Nobunaga, as a successor. This kind of method forcing to adopt winner’s son as a loser’s successor, and take over loser’s house were frequently seen. As a son of ruler, Nobutaka expanded this castle into a modern one surrounded by stone walls, with a five story main tower. 

Hard life of former ruler's son

Historically to be a son of ruler was a way to wealth and power, but simultaneously a cause of due to external attack or internal conflict. Furthermore, for sons of former ruler the situation was more severe.

Nobunaga was said to had 11 sons. His first son Nobutada Oda (1557-1582) grew up favorably as a general and appointed as a successor of Nobunaga, but died with Nobunaga and his sixth son Katsunaga Oda (1570-1582) in the accident of Honnoji, a coup d’etat by his regional commander Mitsuhide Akechi (1528-1582) in 1582. Nobutada’s son Hidenobu Oda (1580-1605), served as a commander of Gifu castle under Toyotomi government, but after the death of Hideyoshi he was involved in the battle of Sekigahara at 1600, expelled and died in youth without son.

Second son Nobukatsu Oda (1558-1630) who governed southern part of Ise province and was a commander of Tamaru castle (Mie prefecture), was said to lack talent as a general. After the death of Nobunaga, Nobukatsu once tried to beat his younger brother Nobutaka Oda with Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598), one of the strong commander under Nobunaga. But Hideyoshi skillfully took over Nobukatsu's position, and next Nobukatsu allied with Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616) and fought against Hideyoshi at the battle of Komaki Nagakute. 

Tactically Ieyasu and Nobukatsu alliance won at the battle against Hideyoshi, but strategically Nobukatsu's situation was severe thus Nobukatsu finally made peace with Hideyoshi and became a substantial retainer. In 1590, Nobukatsu was ordered to move his territory by Hideyoshi but refused it, then furious Hideyoshi confiscated the territory of Nobukatsu and expelled it. But as Nobukatsu lost political importance, Nobukatsu could survive as a small lord under Toyotomi government and Edo Shogunate, being respected as a descendant of Nobunaga, and could continue Nobunaga’s blood to future generations.

Severe fate of younger sons

Third son Nobutaka Oda was a man with mettle, and unlike his brother Nobutaka was praised by a Cathoric missionary stayed in Japan. Nobutaka had served as a mobile army for long time, but in 1582, Nobutaka was appointed as a commander in Shikoku expeditionary force against Chosokabe clan which was the lord of Tosa province (Kochi prefecture), with vice commander Nagahide Niwa (1535-1585). 

Nobutaka prepared voyage to Shikoku region, but just the before of D-day, the incident of Honnoji occurred. Nobutaka’s army was the nearest to rebel Mitsuhide Akechi, but as this army was hurriedly mixed up then many soldiers escaped in the confusing situation, thus Nobutaka could not revenge to Mitsuhide by himself and joined in Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s army returned from western front. Hideyoshi and Nobutaka cooperatively fought at the battle of Yamazaki against Mitsuhide Akechi and beat it.

But after the battle of Yamazaki, there was a conflict of initiative between Nobukatsu with Hideyoshi line vs Nobutaka with Katsuie Shibata (1522-1583), another veteram commander of Nobunaga. Based on his achievement to lead revenge of Nobunaga, Hideyoshi proceeded things as he hoped. Nobutaka and Katsuie resisted to this movement, but in the latter half of 1582, Hideyoshi attacked Nobutaka stayed at Gifu castle under the name of Nobukatsu and once let him surrender.

Next year Katsuie raised his army against Hideyoshi in cooperation with his colleague Kazumasu Takigawa (1525-1586), and Nobutaka raised his army again. But Katsuie was defeated at the battle of Shizugatake before Hideyoshi in 1583 and killed himself at his main base Kitanosho castle (Fukui prefecture). Nobutaka who lost his supporter was also forced to suicide by Nobukatsu, his brother.

Fourth son Hidekatsu Oda (1568-1586) was adopted by Hideyoshi Hashiba who did not have his own children at that time, but died in youth by ill. Fifth son Katsunaga Oda (?-1582) was captured by Takeda clan at Iwamara castle (Gifu prefecture) when Shingen Takeda (1572-1573), a warlord of Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture) captured that castle, then returned to Nobunaga in 1581 but died by the accident of Honnoji. Other younger son were children when Nobunaga died, and stayed small retainer under Toyotomi and Tokugawa government.

Afterward of the castle

Subsequent to Nobutaka’s period, Kanbe castle was involved in the conflict between Hideyoshi and Nobukatsu same as Kameyama Castle. Throughout Toyotomi government and Edo shogunate period, Kanbe castle had been used as basis of governance at Suzuka area. Subsequent to Meiji revolution most buildings and outer areas were lost, but central area still remains as a park. 

In addition to this, one turret and two gate are transferred to temples at a bit distant area. Magnificent base of main tower reminds past glory and severe fate of Nobunaga’s son, same as Futamata castle (Shizuoka prefecture) which was also known as a castle of tragic commander.


15 minutes walk from Kintetsu Suzuka-sen line Suzuka-shi station or 20 minutes walk from Ise-Tetsudo line Suzuka station. 30 minutes drive from Higashi-Meihan Expressway Kameyama interchange via Route 1.

Related Castles

Kiyosu Castle -Place of important alliance and conference-
GIfu Castle - Unfortunate ends of holders-
Futamata Castle -Ending place of Ieyasu's eldest son-
Tamaru Castle -Checkered life of Nobunaga's second son who survived turbulent period-
Kameyama Castle -Sudden downfall of veteran general after his master's death-


Pictures (click to enlarge)

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