Saturday, March 22, 2014

Kuwana castle -General praised as undeserved to his master-

Kuwana Castle

-General praised as undeserved to his master-



Name: Kuwana castle (Kuwana-jyo)
Alias: Ogi-jyo (Folding fan shaped castle)
Place: Sannomaru Kuwana city, Mie
Type: Plain castle
Built: Originally 15th century, expanded in 17th century
Remaining remnants: Stone walls and water moats

Brief History

Kuwana castle (桑名城) is located at the mouth of Nagara river in Kuwana city. Kuwana city placed at the westside of Nagashima delta area consisted of Kiso river, Nagara river and Ibi river. Historically Kuwana was one of important ports in Ise gulf, and as there was no bridge on these rivers, tourists who traveled Tokaido way took ship from Kuwana port to Atsuta port (Aichi prefecture). 

Historically there was a small castle built by local lord, but after the extinction of Nagashima Ikkou Ikki (religions army of Ikkoushu denomination) at 1573, Kazumasu Takigawa (1525-1586), a general of Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), governed this area from Nagashima castle and the old castle was abolished.

Subsequent to Toyotomi period, after the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, new ruler Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616) placed his general Tadakatsu Honda (1548-1610) in this place from Otaki castle (Chiba prefecture). Tadakatsu built a large castle at riverside, surrounded by three layer water moats drawn from Nagara river. Kuwana castle had four story six floor main tower, and also former main tower of Kanbe castle was transferred.

The bravest general of Ieyasu Tokugawa

Tadakatsu Honda (famous for his middle name Heihachiro) was the bravest general of Ieyasu Tokugawa and knows as one of the big four at Tokugawa army (other three were Tadatsugu Sakai (1527-1596), Yasumasa Sakakibara (1548-1606) and Naomasa Ii (1561-1602)).

Honda clan was an old retainer of Tokugawa Clan, and Masanobu Honda (1538-1616), an famous intelligent officer of Ieyasu Tokugawa, was same family. Experiencing his first battle at the supply operation to Odaka castle in 1560 same as his master Ieyasu, Tadakatsu experienced 57 battles and had never been wounded, with his famous spear Tombo-giri (means as sharp as cutting dragonfly perched on the spearhead) and the helmet with deer horns.

In 1572, when Shingen Takeda (1521-1573), a warlord of Kai country (Yamanashi prefecture) attacked Tokugawa clan, Ieyasu who scouted with small army encountered dominant Takeda army and was chased at Hitokotosaka slope (Iwata city). The situation was serious but due to the hard fight of Tadakatsu, Ieyasu could safely retreat to Hamamatsu castle. Concerning this, Takeda army praised Tadakatsu as “There are two things undeserved to Ieyasu. They are decorated helmets with fur (fashion in Tokugawa army) and Heihachiro Honda”

Also in 1585, when Ieyasu fought with current ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598), Tokugawa army had to move in front of dominant Toyotomi army. Tadakatsu guarded firmly the end of Tokugawa army, and Toyotomi side could not attack it. Later Hideyoshi applauded Tadakatsu like “As there is a brave general Tadakatsu Honda in eastern region, there is also an excellent general Muneshige Tachibana (1567-1642) in western countries”.

He had fought for Ieyasu until the battle of Sekigahara at 1600, performed his duty as a general with honors and died in 1610.

Afterwards of the castle

After Honda clan moved to Himeji castle in 1617, Matsudaira clan, a relative clan of shogunate, became the governor. During Meiji revolution, as current lord Sadataka Matsudaira (1847-1908) was a brother of Katamori Matsudaira (1836-1893), the lord of Aizu domain who lead the resistance to new government, Kuwana domain supported Edo shogunate side and Sadataka himself went to Aizu Wakamatsu castle to support his brother.

When Kuwana castle was attacked by new government army, remaining retainers promptly surrendered. But due to above action of the lord, Kuwana castle thoroughly demolished and stones were used to build Yokkaichi port. Now the remaining part of the castle is used as Kyuka park, and famous as a place of cherry blossom. But the shape of the castle surrounded by water is still kept to some extent, and stone walls of outer moat also remain.


20 minutes walk from JR Central Kansai Honsen line Kuwana station or Kintetsu Nagoya line Kuwana station. 20 minutes drive from Higashi-Meihan Expressway Kuwana interchange

Related Castles

Otaki castle -Secure fortress guarded by mountains and valleys-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

No comments:

Post a Comment