Monday, May 5, 2014

Takatenjin Castle -Stalingrad of Takeda clan-

Takatenjin Castle

-Stalingrad of Takeda clan-



Name: Takatenjin castle (Takatenjin-jyo)
Place: Kamihijikata Kakegawa city, Shizuoka
Type: Mountain castle
Built: Originally 15th century, expanded in 16th century
Remaining remnants: Sand walls and moats

Brief History

Takatenjin castle (高天神城) is placed on the Kakuohzan mountain continued southward from Ogasayama mountain in south east part of Kakegawa city. It is located along with the way from Kakegawa city to Kikugawa plain, and also centered on the eastern seaside area of Totomi country (weastern part of Shizuoka prefecture). Takatenjin castle itself was a secure castle surrounded by precipitous cliff, thus historically it is said that who keeps Takatenjin castle also seizes Totomi country.

First attack of Shingen Takeda

Takatenjin castle was built in the 15 century by Kushima clan, a local lord of this area. Kushima clan was one of important retainers of Imagawa clan, a warlord of Suruga country (Middle part of Shizuoka prefecture), and mainly took charge of foreign diplomacy with Takeda clan, a warlord of Kai country (Yamanashi prefecture). But Kushima clan opposed to Yoshimoto Imagawa (1520-1560) at the accident of Hanagura, an internal conflict for leader position of Imagawa clan, and was ruined.

Yoshimoto placed Ogasawara clan as a general of this castle, but died at the battle of Okehazama against Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), a warlord of Owari country (western part of Aichi prefecture). Eight years later, Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), a warlord of Mikawa country (eastern part of Aichi prefecture) defeated Imagawa clan in alliance with Shingen Takeda (1521-1573), current leader of Takeda clan. Ieyasu seized Totomi country and Nagatada Ogasawara (?-?), current commander of Takatenjin castle, belonged to Ieyasu. Nagatada participated in the battle of Anegawa fought between Nobunaga Oda and Azai clan in 1570, as one of the reinforcement from Ieyasu to Nobunaga.

But in 1568, the relation of Ieyasu and Shingen was broken and Shingen attacked Totomi country. In 1571 Shingen siege Takatenjin castle with 20,000 soldiers, but due to secure defence of the castle, Shingen could not fall the castle. In 1572 Shingen made a great win to Ieyasu at the battle of Mikatagahara, but died in ill at the beginning of next year and his son Katsuyori Takeda (1546-1582) succeeded the leader of Takeda clan.

Capture by Katsuyori Takeda

Katsuyori was a son of the princess of former enemy and became the successor due to the purge of his brother Yoshinobu Takeda (1538-1567), his authority was weak. Thus Katsuyori intended to improve centripetal force by winning. In 1574, Katsuyori made expedition to eastern area of Mino country (Gifu prefecture) and seized 16 castles of Oda territory.

Further in this year, Katsuyori sieged Takatenjin castle with 25,000 soldiers. Ieyasu could not resist only by himself and asked reinforcement to Nobunaga, and Nobunaga send his army in one month. But in the meantime all foods in the castle was consumed, thus Nagatada decided to open the castle and surrender to Katsuyori. By capturing castle his father could not fall, Katsuyori could improve his fame of brave and was at height. But some old retainers criticized Katsuyori that he was too strong and acted arbitrarily. Katsuyori reformed Takatenjin castle as a basis of this area, especially for west peak using stone walls or moats.

Second fall of the castle

However, the fate of Katsuyori and Takatenjin castle changed next year. In 1575 Katsuyori caused severe defeat against ally of Oda and Tokugawa army by their numerous matchrock guns, and Takeda clan began to fall. In the same year Tokugawa clan captured Suwahara castle, which controlled Tokaido way and an important supply base to Takatenjin. Takeda clan still kept seaside area but this area was inconvenient marsh, thus it became difficult to keep supply line to Takatenjin castle.

By 1580 Ieyasu built six bases such as Yokosuka castle around Takatenjin, and built up encirclement. Now Takeda clan was surrounded by strong enemies and could not send reinforcement or supply any more. Katsuyori approved Motonobu to open the castle, but Nobunaga did not accept to collapse the authority of Katsuyori. Finally in March 1581,due to the lack of supply, Motonobu and soldiers charged to Tokugawa army and all died in the battle. Nagatada escaped to Takeda territory, but he was also killed at the extinguish of Takeda clan in 1582.

At the first fall of the castle in 1574, one Tokugawa retainer named Okouchi refused to surrender and imprisoned in the stone jail of the castle. He stayed there in seven years, and finally released by Tokugawa army. Ieyasu rewarded to his loyalty, but he died in the battle of Komaki Nagakute in 1584.

Afterward of Takeda clan and castle

As a result of fall, as expected by Nobunaga, Katsuyori significantly lose his authority. Next year when Nobunaga and Ieyasu attacked Takeda territory, many generals and soldiers escaped without fighting and Takeda clan easily collapsed. In this meaning, Takatenjin castle was a Stalingrad for Takeda clan.

Now the ruin of the castle became a historical site, and shapes of medieval mountain castle consist of many terraces well remain. We can still imagine hard fight of guarders under lack of supply and siege of overwhelming enemies.

Related Castles

Yokosuka Castle -From military base to administrative base-
Suwahara Castle -Huge moats divide the height-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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