Saturday, March 8, 2014

Konagaya Castle -Castle with two layer crescent moon style moats-

Konagaya Castle

-Castle with two layer crescent moon style moats-



Name: Konagaya castle (Konagaya-jyo)
Alias: Konagai-jyo (Konagai castle)
Place: Kawanehoncho Haibaragun, Shizuoka
Type: Hill castle
Built: Originally in 15th century, expanded in 17th century
Remaining remnants: Clay walls and moats

Brief History

Konagaya castle (小長谷城) is located at the cliff of Oigawa river, in Kawane honcho town at the middle reach of the river. Oigawa river is the border between Totomi province (western part of Shizuoka prefecture) and Suruga province (middle part of Shizuoka prefecture), and connected to Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture) by a road across the mountains. The site of the castle is a merging point of roads from Shizuoka area, Hamamatsu area and Oigawa river, and an important point of communication.

Konagaya castle was originally built by Konagaya clan, a small local lord. Konagaya clan originally belonged to Imagawa clan, the house of the governor of Suruga country, but when Shingen Takeda (1521-1573), the warlord of Kai country (Yamanashi prefecture) occupied Suruga province, Konagaya clan subordinated to Takeda clan. To manage communication and supply line, Takeda clan reformed this castle by their technology.

Konagaya clan mainly consist of three layer terraces faces at the cliff. As this castle was built on the loose slope separated by small river and goes down to the river, outside of the castle is higher than inside. Thus this castle was protected by two layer of dry moats, and the entrance is protected by complex of two small ramparts called as "Umadashi". 

This rampart is built at the edge of height, intended to protect the edge which might be the weak point and to use a point of counter attack. This allocation of Umadashi is also seen at Suwahara castle (Shizuoka prefecture) or Makinoshima Castle (Nagano prefecture) also built by Takeda clan. 

Takeda clan frequently used Maru Umadashi, it means a round type rampart in front of the gate. Maru Umadashi ordinary consisted of round shape clay wall and surrounding singular or plural layer of crescent moon style moats, assisting sallying from the gate or retreating into castle before the attack from enemy. On the other hand, Hojo clan, a warlord of Sagami province (Kanagawa prefecture), often used square type rampart (Kaku-Umadashi).

At first Umadashi were placed on outside of the wall, but later integrated into the castle itself and became composite gates (gates consist of two doors with buffer area), or expanded into independent areas (Umadashi Kuruwa - Rampage area) with same function in modern castles.

Konagaya was disposed after the fall of Takeda clan in 1582, and the site of castle has been used as a ground of local shrine. The place of Gymnasium at the next of the castle was also a part of the castle but completely destructed.

Related Castles

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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