Saturday, June 21, 2014

Otaki Castle -Secure fortress guarded by mountains and valleys-

Otaki Castle

-Secure fortress guarded by mountains and valleys-

大多喜城, Ohtaki Castle


Name: Otaki Castle (Otaki-jyo/Ohtaki-jyo)
Place: Otaki Otaki town, Chiba
Type: Hill Castle
Built: Originally mid 15th century, expanded in 1590's
Remaining remnants: One gate, clay walls and dry moats
Title: 100 more famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Otaki castle is located on a hill of Otaki town, at the middle east part of Boso peninsula. Otaki town is a place where Isumi river flow from mountainous area to plain, and also an important place of communication at the middle of road crossing Boso peninsula east and west ward. Being guarded mountains at backside and winding deep valley of Isumi river at frontside, Otaki castle and castle town were a secure fortress city.

Otaki castle under Masaki clan

Otaki castle was originally built at the beginnng of 15th century by Mariyatsu clan, a traditional local lord resided at Mariyatsu castle at 20km northwest of this castle. But in 1544, this castle was captured by Tokishiga Masaki (1513-1561), a vassal of Satomi clan at Awa country (South edge of Boso peninsula) and was used as his residence. Tokishige was a brave general good at spear and had the title of Daizennosuke, thus he was famous as Yari Daizen (Speer Daizen).

Even though a retainer of Satomi clan, Tokishige was somehow nominated as an excellent warlord along with Shigen Takeda (1521-1573), Kenshin Uesugi (1530-1578) or Motonari Mouri (1497-1571), at the record of Norikage Asakura (1477-1555) who was a veteran excellent general of Asakura clan at Echizen country (Fukui prefecture). After Tokishige, four generations of Masaki clan had held this castle, and this castle had been an important place to cope with Hojyo clan, a warlord of Sagami country (Kanagawa prefecture) and expanded their influence to this area.

Expansion by Tadakatsu Honda

In 1590, at the time of Odawara campaign by central ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598) against Hojyo clan, Satomi clan was confiscated territory at Kazusa country (upper half of Boso peninsula) including Otaki castle. Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616) was appointed as a governor of most Kanto region including this area, and Ieyasu placed his general Tadakatsu Honda (1548-1610), the bravest general of Tokugawa clan and regarded as one of big four of Tokugawa army, as a commander of this general to control Satomi clan still remained at Awa country.

As a commander of castle, Tadakatsu significantly reformed this castle into a modern one as defence point of this area. Formerly the castle spread to wide area of backside mountains, but Tadakatsu cut down the castle to current size, and also built a large terraces necessary for modern combat at hillside area. On the top of the hill, a three story and four floor main tower was newly built, and there also existed several turrets and gates in the castle. Castle town was also built between the outer area of the castle guarded by winding Isumi river.

According to the record of Don Rodrigo (1564-1636), a Spanish admiral who draft ashore to Otaki area by shipwreck and visited this castle, the castle located on a hill and there was a deep moat surrounded outer area, A drawbridge was used to cross the moat, and inside the iron covered gate there was a palace of lord, decorated by gold and silver.

Castle on and after Edo era

After the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Tadakatsu was transferred to Kuwana castle (Mie prefecture) and his second son Tadatomo Honda (1582-1615) succeeded the castle. But Tadatomo died at the battle of Osaka castle in 1615, and next leader Masatomo Honda (1599-1638) finally left this castle and moved to Tatsuno castle (Hyogo prefecture) in 1617. As Satomi clan was already expelled in 1614, the necessity of Otaki castle has decreased and once abolished at 1623. Later castle itself was restored, but being held by only small retainers they could not maintain a large castle. Otaki castle became devastated throughout Edo era, and main tower lost by fire in 1842 was never built again.

Subsequent to Meiji revolution, deep moats guarded the castle were reclaimed and most buildings were broken, but one gate still remains at the place of high school built at former secondary area. An imitation of main tower was built at the top of hill, and used as a historical museum of this area.

Related Castles

Kuwana Castle -General praised as undeserved to his master-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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