Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Komakiyama Castle -Unexpected reuse at 15 years later-

Komakiyama Castle

-Unexpected reuse at 15 years later-



Name: Komakiyama castle (Komakiyama-jo)
Alias: Komaki jo (Komaki castle)
Place: Horionuchi Komaki city, Aichi
Location: 35.29262305044371, 136.91341371679238
Type: Hill castle
Built: Originally in 1563, reformed in 1584
Remaining remnants: Stone wall, clay walls and dry moats
Title: 100 more famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Komakiyama castle (小牧山城) is located on Komakiyama hill, at the center of Komaki city, north of Nagoya. Komakiyama placed at the middle of Inuyama castle, entrance of middle and eastern area of Mino province (Gifu prefecture), and Kiyosu castle (Kiyosu town), current center of Owari province (western part of Aichi prefecture) country and former residence of Oda clan. Komakiyama hill is an isolated one and has good view for all directions.

Nobunaga's conquest for Mino province

Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), a warlord of Owari province once united the province in 1559, and broke overwhelming army of Yoshimoto Imagawa (1520-1560), a warlord of Suruga province (middle part of Shizuoka prefecture) attempted to conquer Owari province at the battle of Okehazama in 1560. 

Being stabilized, Nobunaga started to aim at Mino province (Gifu prefecture) governed by Yoshitatsu Saito (1527-1561). Formerly Nobunaga allied with Dosan Saito (1494-1556), father of Yositatsu and married with Nouhime, a daughter of Dosan. But Dosan was killed by the revolt of Yoshitatsu in 1556, and Nobunaga seek chance of revenge his father in law. 

As Dusan made a will stating he transfer Mino province to Oda clan, Nobunaga utilized this as a pretext and attacked Yoshitatsu. But Yoshitatsu well managed Mino province and did not allow Nobunaga no chance to attack, and sometimes defeated Nobunaga’s army.

Facing this situation, Nobunaga gave up frontal attack to Saito clan, and planned to invite local lords of middle and eastern area of Mino province to Oda clan. Thus Nobunaga forwarded his residence to Komakiyama hill, more closer place to middle and eastern part of Mino province, and built a new castle in 1563.

Build of Komakiyama castle and capture of Mino province

At Komakiyama, Nobunaga made many terraces from top to hillside, and built a main tower at the top of the hill. Central area was surrounded by stone wall, and it was a full-scale on using large stones, From hill side to the halfway of the hill, a wide main road was placed, and it is similar structure to Azuchi castle, later Nobunaga built.

About that time, Yoshitatsu died in youth due to ill and Tatsuoki Saito (1548-1573) succeeded leader of Saito clan. As Tatsuoki did not have talent equivalent to his grandfather or father, unite of Mino province became looser. Utilizing this opportunity retainer of Nobunaga such as Hideyoshi Kinoshita (1537-1598, later Hideyoshi Toyotomi) or Nagahide Niwa (1535-1585) brought many local lords in middle and eastern area of Mino province to Oda side. 

Finally three large retainers called as Mino Sanninshu in western Mino, Ittetsu Inaba (1515-1588), Bokuzen Ujiie (1512-1571) and Morinari Ando (1503-1582) left Saito Clan, and without any support Tatsuoki could not hold his residence Inabayama castle. Tatsuoki opened Inabayama castle in 1567 and surrendered, and Nobunaga seized whole Mino country in seven years. As Nobunaga moved his residence to captured Inabayama castle (renamed to Gifu castle) aiming at next expansion into Kinki region, Komakiyama castle was abolished.

Reuse of castle at the battle of Komaki Nagakute

For next 15 years, the situation of Owari had been stable. But after Nobunaga’s death at the accident of Honnoji in 1582, there arise a conflict between Hideyoshi Toyotomi, Nobunaga’s successor and Nobukatsu Oda (1558-1630), second son of Nobunaga. In 1584, being taken over hegemony by Hideyoshi, Nobukatsu allied with Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), former ally of Nobunaga and a large lord to resist against Hideyoshi. Nobukatsu had Owari province and Hideyoshi grasped Mino country, thus north part of Owari country suddenly became the battlefield.

This year Tsuneoki Ikeda (1536-1584), a general of Hideyoshi army, crossed Kiso river and occupied Inyama castle. In response to this, Ieyasu occupied vacant Komakiyama castle and reformed it, to use as his position. Remaining sand walls and moats surrounding at halfway of the hill and hillside were built at this time. Ieyasu besieged Komakiyama castle and faced dominant Toyotomi army.

Facing deadlock, to change the situation, Hideyoshi planned to attack Mikawa country (eastern part of Aichi prefecture), the backward and native place of Ieyasu by a detached force. But this plan was seen through by Tokugawa side, and the detached force lead by Hidetsugu Toyotomi, Tsuneoki Ikeda and Nagayoshi Mori was captured by Tokugawa army at Nagakute and defeated, then Tsuneoki and Nagayoshi died in the battle.

Again the situation became deadlock, and hating long confrontation both army ceased to fight six month later. This series of battle is said as the battle of Komaki Nagakute.  Hideyoshi admitted Ieyasu’s power and sounded him to subordinate at good condition, then Ieyasu who knew the difference of power consented this. As this Ieyasu became the retainer of Hideyoshi, but Ieyasu got the reputation of proving good match against Hideyoshi and kept large territory, and this fact lead to seizing next hegemony after the death of Hideyoshi.

Afterward of the castle

After the battle of Komaki Nagakute, Komakiyama castle was abolished again. In Edo era, Owari domain kept the site of this castle as a possible base in case of accident, thus old shape of the castle had been kept well. After Meiji revolution the whole hill became a park, and in 1967, an imitation of main tower was built on the central area. As not reformed into modern castle, Komakiyama castle still shows prototype of the castle of Nobunaga.


20 minutes walk from Meitetsu Komaki-sen line Komaki station. 10 minutes drive from Meishin Expressway Komaki interchange.

Related Castles

Inuyama Castle -Nobunaga's 13 year struggle to unite Owari country-
GIfu Castle -Unfortunate ends of holders-
Azuchi Castle -Isolated heaven of Nobunaga-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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