Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Suwahara Castle -Huge moats divide the plateau-

Suwahara Castle

-Huge moats divide the plateau-



Name: Suwahara castle (Suwahara-jyo)
Place: Kikugawa Shimada city, Shizuoka
Type: Hill castle
Built: 1573
Remaining remnants: Sand walls and moats

Brief History

Suwahara caslte (諏訪原城) is located at the edge of the cliff where Makinohara height meets Oigawa river in Kanaya city. This area is a crossing point of Tokaido way for Oigawa river, and in old time Oigawa river run through more closer to the cliff compared with now. Thus the site of the castle was an important point of land transportation and river transportation.

Suwahara castle was built by Takeda clan in 1573, as a bridgehead to Totomi country (western part of Shizuoka prefecture) which was held by Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616). Katsuyori Takeda (1546-1582), the leader of Takeda clan, ordered his famous general Nobuhafu Baba (1515-1575) to plan and construct a castle at this place. Completed castle was named as Suwahara castle, owing to the Suwa shrine brought to here, a guardian god of Takeda clan.

Structure of castle

The backside of the castle was a steep cliff and there was little possibility of assault, thus the castle had to defend the front side. The front line of the castle spread in shape concentrate circle from central area, thus this castle is called as folding fan castle.

There were two layer of moats which had 10 meter wide and depth, and on outer moat two entrances were made. Each entrance had large Maru Umadashi, a 10 meter radius half-circle shaped fort in front of the gate, to suppress the attacking enemy by fire and support sallying or retreating troops. Except fro front side defense line areas of castle were vast but simple and flat, thus the priority of the castle was to keep soldiers and supplies safely, not to make hard fight by itself.

Use and lost of castle

Utilizing Suwahara castle, in 1574, Katsuyori captured Takatenjin castle, a secure castle at 20 km southwest of Suwahara castle and was regarded that the holder of Takatenjin castle seizes Totomi country. But next year, Katsuyori suffered severe defeat at the battle of Nagashino, and being lost many generals and soldiers, he could not continue attack to Tokugawa clan any more. In 1575, Suwahara castle was attacked by Tokugawa clan, and guarding solders opened castle and retreated to Suruga country (middle part of Shizuoka prefecture). Even though having large moats and forts, but as being not planned for fierce battle and having only small soldiers, the castle could not resist to the attack of Tokugawa clan.

Due to the lack of Suwahara castle, Takeda clan lost military base in this area and main supply line to Takatenjin castle. Takeda clan made every effort to bring supplies to Takatenjin castle, but being blocked by encirclement of Tokugawa army, Takagenjin castle finally fell owing to shortage of food in 1581. This fall significantly damaged authority of Katsuyori, and lead to sudden corrupt of Takeda clan next year.

Castle after Takeda period

Contrary to this, Tokugawa clan seized Suwahara castle reformed and used as their bridgehead to Suruga country for several years. Finally Tokugawa clan captured Suruga country along with extinction of Takeda clan in 1582, and the role of this castle became an end.

As this castle was newly built and had been used for only less than 10 years, original plan of this castle clearly remains. The site of this castle is valuable as this is a typical example of Takeda clan’s castle building features.

Related Castles

Takatenjin Castle -Stalingrad of Takeda clan-
Tanaka Castle -Round shape castle guarded western border of Suruga province-
Makinoshima Castle -Castle built at bottleneck-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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