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-jo)
Alias: Konagai-jo (Konagai castle)
Place: Higashi-Fujikawa, Kawanehoncho town, Shizuoka
Type: Hill castle
Built: Originally in 15th century, expanded in 17th century
Remaining remnants: Clay walls and dry moats

Brief History

Konagaya castle (小長谷城) is located at east cliff of Oigawa river, in Senzu area of Kawane honcho town at the middle part 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 isconnected to Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture) by a road across the mountains. 

Senzu area is a center of upper area of Oigawa river because of relatively wide flat area along the river and its geographical condition as a connecting point of river and mountainous roads from Shizuoka area at eastward or Hamamatsu area at westward. Today Senzu station is a major operating point of Oigawa Tetsudo line, and steam locomotive runs between Kanaya station and Senzu station.

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 province but when Shingen Takeda (1521-1573), the warlord of Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture) occupied Suruga province, Konagaya clan subordinated to Takeda clan. To manage communication and supply line from Kai province, Takeda clan reformed this castle by their technology around 1570.

Konagaya castle mainly consist of three layer terraces faces at the cliff. As this castle was built on the loose slope both sides are separated by small river and directly goes down to the river, only backside of the castle is connected to outer place. However, the backside of the castle is higher than inside, thus tall clay wall and two layers of dry moats were built to protect enemy attack from inside.

Same as other castles of Takeda clan, the edge of the dry moat is used as an entrance. Because of the smallness of the castle, the entrance is built only south edge, and this entrance is protected by complex of two small ramparts called as "Umadashi". As rampart of Takeda clan has two entrances at both side, and outer rampart is built outside of the south edge entrance of inner rampart.

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. To keep depth from enemy at narrow place, a double layer rampart might specially built at Konagaya castle. Same allocation but single layer 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.

Takeda clan kept Suruga province and Konagaya castle over 10 years, but Konagaya castle might be disposed after the fall of Takeda clan in 1582. The site of castle has been used as a ground of local shrine and  ground of Gymnasium at the next of the castle was also a part of the castle but completely destructed. As kept as the ground of shrine, the double layer rampart is well remaining along with clay walls and moats.

Related Castles

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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