Monday, June 2, 2014

Matsuida Castle -Surrender and betrayal-

Matsuida Castle

-Surrender and betrayal-



Name: Matsuida Castle (Matsuida-jo)
Place: Matsuida-cho Annaka city, Gunma
Type: Mountain Castle
Built: Originally mid 16th century, expanded in 1580's
Remaining remnants: Clay walls and moats

Brief History

Matsuida castle (松井田城) is located on a hill placed at Gunma side of Usui Toge pass along Nakasendo way. Usui Toge pass had been a main artery connecting north Kanto area and Shinano province (Nagano prefecture) and one of entrance from central area to Kozuke province (Gunma prefecture).

Origin of Matsuida castle

Matsuida castle was originally built by Annaka clan in the mid of 16th century. Annaka clan was a local lord resided Annaka castle at 10km east of this castle, and built this castle as a branch castle to guard against Shinano province. But when Shingen Takeda (1534-1582), the warlord of Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture) and held Shinano province, occupied Kozuke province, Annaka clan subordinated to Takeda clan including this castle.

In 1582 Takeda clan was extinguished by central ruler Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582) and Kozuke province including Matsuida castle was given to Kazumasu Takigawa (1525-1586), a regional commander of Oda army. But just after that Nobunaga died at the incident of Honnoji, and among the confusion after the accident Hojo clan, the warlord of Sagami province (Kanagawa prefecture) and spread to whole Kanto region, seized this castle.

Preparation for central ruler

Anticipating invasion from Shinano province kept by rulers of central area, Hojo clan significantly expanded Matsuida castle as a front gate of their territory, along with Yanamaka castle (Shizuoka prefecture) during 1580's. But different from Yamanaka castle which was intended to made counter attack against the enemy along with the reinforcement from Odawara castle, the main base of Hojo clan, Matsuida castle was far apart and expected to gain time as long as possible.

Originally Matsuida castle consisted of several areas at the top of hill continues east and westward. But Hojo clan securely built defense facilities such as clay wall, dry moats or gates from the top to the end of five ridges continue from hilltop. Roads from hillside were built just below of the top of the ridge to make attack from upward, and cross the ridge by ditch as bottleneck.

At the critical point of the castle such as both edge of hilltop area or central ridge, line of vertical dry moats were built to obstruct the movement of enemy. Finally Matsuida castle became a huge fortress with the area of 1 kilometer square. Hojo clan placed Masashige Daidoji (1533-1590), a vassal of Hojo clan born in the house of original retainers from the period Soun Hojo (1432-1519), the founder of Hojo clan.

Surrender and betrayal of commander

In 1590, due to the territorial conflict at Nakurumi castle, Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598), current ruler of central area, decided to extinct Hojo clan with 200,000 soldiers. In March, a detached force of 30,000 soldiers lead by Toshiie Maeda and Kagekatsu Uesugi crossed Usui Toge pass and assaulted Matsuida castle. Masashige Daidoji firmly stand against attack of Toyotomi army with 3,000 soldiers for one month, but due to lack of supply and no support,  Masashige finally decided to surrender to Toyotomi army.

If Masashige just surrendered, he might at least survive. But once surrendered, Masashige joined Toyotomi army and attacked other Hojo castles such as Hachigata castle or Hachioji castle. It was not clear if he might hoped to keep his territory or he was forced to do so, but in either case, this became the end of him. After the surrender of Hojo clan, Masashige was forced to suicide as a disloyal subject, along with leaders of Hojo clan.

Masashige himself accomplished minimum strategical target to obstruct dominant Toyotomi army with small forces, and in the wartime he might be appraised and hired by the winner. But at the final stage of unification, central ruler only demanded loyalty to the lord, in every circumstance. But the fate of Masashige was sympathized by contemporary people thus Daidoji clan continued as the retainer of Edo Shogunate.

Afterward of castle

After the campaign Matsuida castle was abolished. Apart from city area, the ruins of the castle well remain in mountain, but as the site of the castle was too large and not so kept well, it is difficult to grasp whole shape of huge fortress. Various structures are hided by bushes, and they might be found if we carefully examine the ruin especially in winter season.


30 minutes walk from JR East Shinetsu-Honsen line Matsuida station. 15 minutes drive from Jyoshinetsu-Jidoshado Expressway Matsuida-Myogi interchange.

Related Castles

Yamanaka Castle -Fortress guarded western border of Hojo territory-


Pictures (click to enlarge)

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