Friday, June 20, 2014

Tage Castle -Lethal weapon of Utsunomiya clan-

Tage Castle

-Lethal weapon of Utsunomiya clan-



Name: Tage Castle (Tage-jo)
Alias: Tageyama-jyo
Place: Tanomachi Utsunomiya city, Tochigi
Type: Mountain Castle
Built: Expanded in 1580's
Remaining remnants: Clay walls and dry moats

Brief History

Tage castle (多気城) is located on whole body of Tage mountain at the northwest of Utsunomiya city. Tage mountain is a table mountain shaped one with steep slope and flat hilltop area, then it was suitable to build a castle. In addition to this, historically there had been Take Fudoson temple at this mountain, a traditional temple dedicated to Acala and worshiped among local people.

Crisis of Utsunomiya clan

Ustunomiya clan was a traditional clan stem from Souen Fujiwara (1033-1111) in 11th century and had the honor as one of the eight major families of Kanto region in medieval era. But they could not transform into an independent warlord, and became involved in the conflict of surrounding lords since the latter half of Muromachi Era.

In the latter half of 16th century, Hojyo clan, a warlord of Sagami country (Kanagawa prefecture) and seized the hegemony of Kanto region at the battle of Kawagoe castle in 154x, gradually expanded their territory toward north. Suffered from attack of Kenshin Uesugi (1530-1578), a warlord of Echigo country (Niigata prefecture), Hojyo clan captured whole Musashi country (Tokyo metropolis and Saitama prefecture) in 1560’s, and started to advance to north Kanto region including Utsunomiya area. Facing this situation, Utsunomiya clan cooperated with Kenshin and other warlords such as Satake clan of Hitachi country (Ibaraki prefecture) or Satomi clan of Awa country (Chiba prefecture) to stop Hojyo clan.

During 1570’s the situation of both power competed, but due to the death of Kenshin and substantial surrender of Satomi clan, the situation gradually became favor to Hojyo clan. Expansion of Hojyo clan was once obstructed by interference of Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), the central ruler to Kanto area, but after the death of Nobunaga at the accident of Honnoji in 1582, there was no power to stop Hojyo clan any more. In 1584 anti Hojyo alliance fought with Hojyo clan at Numajiri but could not change the situation, thus small lords such as Yura clan or Sano clan left the alliance and changed to Hojyo side. Now Hojyo clan sometimes assaulted Utsunomiya castle, residence of Utsunomiya clan, and Ustunomiya clan faced the crisis of continuation.

Fully refurbish of Tage castle

Under such circumstance, Utsunomiya clan decided to built a secure fortress on Tage mountain. Originally there had been a small fort on the mountain, but during 1580's they totally renovated the castle into a secure fortress. Completed Tage castle was a huge castle of over 1km square, and central areas spread whole part of hilltop area. Small terraces were built from halfway to hillside area, and outer barrier consisted of huge clay wall and dry moats surrounded the mountain. Later Tage castle was regarded as one of seven excellent castles in Kanto region, along with Maebashi castle, Kanayama castle, Kawagoe castle, Oshi castle, Utsunomiya castle and Karasawayama castle.

After the completion of Tage castle attack of Hojyo clan became further fierce, but coordinating Satake clan still survived, Utsunomiya clan anyhow stand the invasion. In the meantime Hojyo clan was finally extinguished by Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598), next ruler of Nobuanga, at Odawara campaign in 1590. Utilizing secure castle, Utsunomiya clan could survive tough situation.

Under Toyotomi government, Utsunomiya clan once approved to continue, but in 159x the clan was suddenly confiscated its territory and expelled, thus a traditional house from 12th century became an end. Even though having secure castle, Utsunomiya clan could not win against caprice of dynasty. Tage castle was also abolished at this time.

Tage castle was abandoned for long time, but currently investigation on this castle is proceeding and full picture of this huge castle gradually becomes clear. It is difficult to see all part of this castle, but only by limited area we can feel tenacity of Utsunomiya clan to continue their clan. Takeyama Fudoson temple still locates on the halfway of the mountain and revered by local people as before.

Related Castles

Utsunomiya Castle -Castle with long history of disturbance-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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