Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tottori Castle -As secure as guarding general's will-

Tottori Castle

-As secure as guarding general's will-



Name: Tottori castle (Tottori-jyo)
Alias: Kyushosan jyo (Kyusyosan castle)
Place: Higashimachi Tottori city, Tottori
Type: Mountain castle
Built: Originally 15th century, expanded in 16th and 17th century
Remaining remnants: Stone walls and moats
Title: 100 famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Tottori castle (鳥取城) is located on Kyushosan mountain, the north side of Tottori city. Originally the center of Inaba country (eastern Tottori prefecture) was placed on Iwami erea or Tenjinyama castle and Tottori city is a relatively new city, but prospered as residence of Ikeda clan, a large lord. Kyushosan mountain is an isolated mountain with steep slope, and Tottori castle is known as an impregnable fortress.

Period of Yamana and Mouri clan

Tottori castle was originally built by Yamana clan in 15th century. Yamana clan was a traditional house of Genji (Minamoto clan) and served as chief officer of Mandokoro which controls samurais and securities in Kyoto Muromachi shogunate,. At the beginning of Muromachi era Yamana clan was a governor of many countries mainly in Sanyo and Sanin region, and said as “Lord of one sixth of Japan”. 

At the War of Onin, a large internal conflict in Kyoto continued over 10 years, Sozen Yamana (1404-1473), current leader of Yamana clan, was served as a chief of one side. But the power of Yamana clan significantly decreased due to conflict with Akamatsu clan and internal strife , and now only held several country of Sanin area.

After the fall of Amago clan in 1566, Mouri clan, a warlord of Aki country (Hiroshima prefecture), extended their power to Sanin area. At 1575, Mouri's influencing area extended to Inaba and Harima region, the east border of Chugoku region next to Kinki region. But on the other hand, Nobunaga Oda, a warlord of Owari country (Aichi prefecture) who seized Kyoto at 1568, also rapidly expanded its power.

At first these two large powers made friendship and kept noninterefence, but due to the treatment of Yoshiaki Ashikaga (1537-1597), the last shogun of Muromachi shogunate expelled by Nobunaga and refuge to Mouri clan, the conflict of these clan began in 1577. Nobunaga appointed Hideyoshi Hashiba (later Hideyoshi Toyotomi) as a commander of this region, and ordered to conquest Chugoku region.

Siege of Hideyoshi

In 1577 Hideyoshi entered Harima country (Hyogo prefecture) and started his battle against Mouri clan. At first he suffered from continuous revolts of Miki clan at Miki castle and Araki clan at Arioka castle in backward, and was inferior to Mouri clan. But once suppressed these revolts he captured Harima in 1581, and sent his younger brother Hidenaga Toyotomi (1540-1591) and seized Tajima country (north part of Hyogo prefecture) in 1580, including Ikuno silver mine, started to push out Mouri clan to westward.

In 1581, after letting Naoie Ukita (1529-1582), a warlord lord of Bizen and MImasaka country (Okayama prefecture) and Nanjyo clan, a lord of Houki country (western Tottori prefecture) leave from Mouri clan, Hideyoshi aimed at Tottori castle as next target. Hideyoshi succeeded to persuade Toyokuni Yamada (1548-1626), the current leader of Yamana clan to support him. In response to this, opposing retainers of Yamana clan expelled Toyokuni, and invided Mouri retainer named Tsuneie Kikkawa (1547-1581),  belong to a house of Motoharu Kikkawa, a prominent general of Mouri clan. Tsuneie entered Tottori castle in 1581, and prepared for attack of Hideyoshi with 3,000 soldiers.

Hideyoshi, who feared severe damage by assaulting this castle, planned to encircle this castle to sterve out Mouri army. At first Hideyoshi purchased rices in Tottori area at very high price, and people including guardian of castle who did not expect the assault willingly sold their food to Hideyoshi. Next he advanced to Tottori castle, and built a encircling barriers by 20,000 soldiers all around the castle, and totally shut the supply line of the castle.

Of couse Mouri clan tried to rescue this situation with all their effort, but being obstructed by Ukita clan and Nanjyo clan, Mouri army could not reach the Tottori castle. Suffering from severe hunger Tsuneie and Tottori castle stand for 3 months, but to save remaining guard soldiers, finally Tsuneie opened this castle and killed himself. Hideyoshi could capture this castle wituout striking damage, and seized whole past of east Sanin area. Later this is said as one of the three siege of Hideyoshi, the remainders are siege of Miki castle (1578-1580) and Bicchu Takamatsu castle (1582).

After Toyotomi period

Under Toyotomi government, Tottori castle was governed by Keijyun Miyabe (?-1599), a general of Hideyoshi and was active in the conquest of Sanin area. In 1616, Mitsumasa Ikeda (1609-1682), formerly a lord of Himeji domain, was transferred to Tottori castle as a lord of Inaba and Houki country. As a lord of large territory, Mitsumasa significantly expanded hillside areas and transformed into modern castle with stone walls and water moats. 

Mountain castle area became scarcely used, but buildings had been kept throughout Edo era. Regarding main tower, there was a two story tower in the hilltop area, but a three story turret existed at the front of secondary area in hillside area and this was virtually a main tower. In 1632, Mitsumasa moved to Okayama domain, and his nephew Mitsunaka Ikeda (1630-1693) succeeded his position. Tottori castle had been managed by Ikeda clan by the end of Edo era.

Subsequent to Meiji revolution all building were broken, and site of the castle is used as a historical park. Reconstruction of stone walls in hillside area is progressing.

Related Castles

Ishigakiyama Castle -Master of sieging castles-
Yonago Castle -Person who decided win and lose at Sekigahara-
Wakasa Onigajyo Castle -Picturesque ruin of castle on mountain-
Bicchu Takamatsu Castle -Leave the fame as a moss of Takamatsu-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

Hillside area

Mountain castle area

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