Thursday, March 6, 2014

Nakatsu Castle -Castle built by Hideyoshi’s excellent military staff

Nakatsu Castle

-Castle built by Hideyoshi’s excellent military staff-



Name: Nakatsu castle (Nakatsu-jyo)
Alias: Ogi jyo (Folding fan castle)
Place: Ninotei Nakatsu city, Oita
Type: Plain castle
Built: 1588, expanded in 17th century
Remaining remnants: Stone walls and moats

Brief History

Nakatsu castle (中津城) is located on the mouth of Nakatsu river, in Nakatsu city. Nakatsu city is the south eastern border of Buzen country (now Oita prefecture) and facing Sea of Suonada. Surrounded by river and sea, Nakatsu castle is said as one of three famous Japanese water castles along with  Takamatsu Castle (Kagawa prefecture) and Imabari Castle (Ehime prefecture).

Originally this area was goverend by Utsunomiya clan, stem from head family located at Shimotsuke country (Tochigi prefecture). At the internal war between Minamato clan and Taira clan in late 12th century, Utsunomiya clan rendered remarkable service and also given Buzen country.

In Sengoku era of 16th century, Utsunomiya clan subordinated to Otomo clan, a house of governor of Bungo country (Oita prefecture). After the fall of Otomo clan Utsunomiya clan temporally changed their master to Shimazu clan which dominated major part of Kyushu island. But in 1590, the current ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598) made a campaign to Shimazu clan and defeated them. Utsunomiya clan surrendered to Hideyoshi and was forgiven, but also told to move Iyo country (Ehime prefecture). Yoshitaka Kuroda (1546-1604), a famous military staff of Hideyoshi, was newly appointed as a governor of Buzen.

About Yoshitaka Kuroda (Kanbe Kuroda)

Yoshitaka Kuroda (also called as Kanbe /Kanbee in nickname, Jyosui in buddhist name and Don Simeon in christian name ) was a son of Kodera clan, a house of local lord in Harima country (southern part of Hyogo prefecture). When Hideyoshi first entered in Harima country as a commander of Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582) in 1576, Yoshitaka decided to support Hideyoshi and gave his Himeji castle to Hideyoshi as a base of this region.

Later, Miki clan, the most powerful local lord in this area, rose in revolt against Hideyoshi, and Yoshitaka’ family followed this. But Yoshitaka did not change his position. In addition to this, Yoshitaka was captured when he visited Murashige Araki (1535-1586), a former commander of Oda clan who also revolted to Oda army, to urge to reconsider, and had been confined in a jail over one year. 

One of his leg became not work by this capture, but he did not yield to Murashige and finally rescued by Hideyoshi. Due to these actions, Yoshitaka was trusted from Hideyoshi as a military staff, equal to Shigeharu Takenaka (Hanbee, 1544-1579), a former excellent military staff of Hideyoshi and died in 1579. Yoshitaka made various plans at the battle with Mouri clan.

When Nobunaga killed at the accident of Honnoji, a coup d'etat by his recional commander Mitsuhide Akechi (1528-1582), Yoshitaka was said to recommed to depressed Hideyoshi that it is a golden chance to seize the hegemony. Following Yoshitaka’s recommendation, Hideyoshi made peace with facing Mouri clan and returned to Kyoto, then finally revenged to Mitsuhide and became a successor of Nobunaga. The plan of Yoshitaka came true, but Hideyoshi became cautious for Yoshitaka’s talent. During Hideyoshi’s campaign to Shikoku in 1585 and Kyushu in 1587 Yoshitaka continuously served as a chief military staff.

After Kyushu campaign Yoshitaka was appointed as a governor of Buzen country and started to build a castle in Nakatsu at 1588. But Utsunomiya clan, who was against for moving to Iyo country, rebelled against Kuroda clan. Having hard fight with Utsunomiya clan, Yoshitaka deceived to reconcile with and called major Utsunomiya people, and assassinated all of them at one temple near the city. The wall of this temple is red, and it is said to conceal the blood of victims.

Subsequent to the death of Hideyoshi at 1598, the battle of Sekigahara between Ieyasu Tokugawa, the largest lord of Toyotomi government (1542-1616) and aimed at next hegemony, and former Toyotomi group occured at 1600. Kuroda clan supported Tokugawa side and sent Nagamasa Kuroda (1568-1623), son of Yoshitaka and their troops to Tokugawa army in central Japan, but Yoshitaka remained at Nakatsu. Surrounding lords also sent their soldiers to each side, thus Kyushu region became a vacuum area.

Once the battle began, Yoshitaka recruited local people and attacked castles of Toyotomi side lords. He occupied territories ot Toyotomi side lords in Bungo country (Oita prefecture) and Chikugo (Southern part of Fukuoka Prefecture), but with the cease of battle he stopped operation. It is said that Yoshitaka aimed the hegemony utilizing chaotic situation occurred from the battle in central area, but the truth is unclear.

Hosokawa period and afterward

As a result of the battle, Kuroda clan moved to Chikuzen country (Fukuoka prefecture) with larger territory, and Hosokawa clan was transferred from Tango country (eastern Hyogo prefecture). Hosokawa clan first lived in this castle and expanded, but later moved to Kokura castle they newly built. Hosokawa clan was also transferred to Kumamot Castle in Higo country (Kumamoto prefecture) in 1632, then Okudaira clan, a high class hereditary lord of Tokugawa clan was appointed as a governor. Okudaira clan kept this position by the end of Edo era.

Subsequent to Meiji revolution, all building were lost. The place of castle was still held by Okudaira clan, and they built an imitation of main tower with the support from local people in 1964. In 2011, the building of main tower was sold to a private company.


20 minutes walk from JR Kyushu Nippo-Honsen line Nakatsu station.  15 minutes drive from Higashi-Kyushu Jidoshado Expressway Buzen interchange.

Related Castles

Kokura Castle -Gate to Kyushu island-
Fukuoka Castle- Huge castle looking down on commercial city-
Takamatsu Castle -Beautiful water castle with original turrets-
Imabari Castle -Water castle in town of marine transportation-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

No comments:

Post a Comment