Saturday, July 19, 2014

Nochiseyama Castle -General indispensable like rice-

Nochiseyama Castle

-General indispensable like rice-



Name: Nochiseyama Castle /Notiseyama Castle (Nochiseyama-jo)
Place: Aoi Obama city, Fukui
Location: 35.48851896476149, 135.73748177390598
Type: Mountain Castle
Built: 1522
Remaining remnants: Stone walls, clay walls and dry moats

Brief History

Nochiseyama castle (後瀬山城) is located at the front peak of Nochiseyama mountain, which stand at the southeast edge of central Obama city. Obama city is located at the mouth of Kita river, and as a commercial port along Wakasa bay connecting to Kyoto, it had been prospered from ancient era. Obama city also had been the center of politics of Wakasa province (western part of Fukui prefecture).

Residence of distinguished governor house

Nochiseyama castle was built in 1522 and expanded under Takeda clan, the house of governor of Wakasa province. Takeda clan was a traditional distinguished clan which had the same origin of Takeda clan of Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture), a famous warlord. In the past the east hillside of Nochiseyama mountain was a water area and Obama town spreads on the narrow only connected to the mountain, thus castle site was an ideal place to guard Obama town and port. 

As the governor near to Kyoto Takeda clan once had an influence to the political situation of central area, and served as a vice leader at Onin no Ran (Conflict of Onin), a 10 year conflict occurred at Kyoto city between 1467 and 1477. But after that, due to premature death of leaders and internal conflicts the power of the clan significantly decreased, and major retainer of Takeda clan tried to be independent from their master.

After 1550’s, there arouse continuous internal conflict among Takeda clan. At first, Nobutoyo Takeda (1514-?), the sixth leader of Takeda clan, and Yoshizumi takeda (1526-1567), son of Nobutoyo, fought for retirement of Nobutoyo and succession of Yoshizumi. Yoshizumi who became the seventh leader expelled his younger brother, and finally conflicted with his son Motoaki Takeda (1562-1582). 

During this process, Nobutoyo asked assistance from Asakura clan, and Asakura clan sent large army to Wakasa province. Finally in 1568, Asakura clan captured Motoaki who became the ninth leader of Takeda clan after the deatu of Yoshizumi, and took him away to Ichijyodani residence, their main base. In this time, Takeda clan fell into the puppet of Asakura clan, but local lords such as Awaya clan at Kuniyoshi castle (Fukui prefecture) kept resistance against Asakura clan then the province fell into internal conflicts.

General indispensable like rice

In 1573, central ruler Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582) extinguished Asakura clan and Motoaki was rescued. But his return to the governor and castle was not approved by Nobunaga, and Nagahide Niwa (1535-1585), an important retainer of Nobunaga, was appointed as the governor of the country.

Nagahide was the son of small lord of Owari country (western part of Aichi prefecture), and served to Nobunaga from youth. Nagahide made achievement for inviting local lords when Nobunaga attacked Saito clan of Mino country (Gifu prefecture) during the former half of 1560’s, and promoted to the major general of Oda army. 

Nobunaga advanced to Kyoto city to establish his government in 1567 and Nagahide took part in this expedition as one of 10 commanders of Oda army, and continuously fought at various place as a part of main force. He was also appointed as a commander of Sawayama castle (Shiga prefecture), an important castle connecting Mino province (Gifu prefecture), the main land of Oda clan and Omi province (Shiga prefecture) or Kyoto city.

When Nobunaga extinguished Asakura clan which held Echizen province and Wakasa province in 1573, Nagahide was appointed as a governor of Wakasa province. Wakasa province was a small province but an important place to protect Kyoto from the side. Nagahide entered vacant Nochiseyama Castle and governed the province, and also lead local lords and acted as a mobile force of Oda army. Even though he could not promote to the regional commander such as Katsuie Shibata (1522-1583) or Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598), Nagahide was entrusted by Nobunaga and frequently acted as a proxy of Nobunaga.

In 1576, when Nobunaga started to build his new residence at Azuchiyama Mountain in Omi prefecture, Nagahide became the chief manager of construction. Nagahide processed long construction without prominent delay, and after three years construction, huge and splendid castle completed. From this experience, Niwa clan became the master of castle construction. Nagahide also engaged in the building of huge battle ship used for the movement in Lake Biwako at the same time. Even though not prominent, but by performing important tasks silently, Nagahide is praised as “Kome Goroza”, meant  sober but indispensable like rice.

Structure of Nochiseyama castle

Of course Nagahide reformed Nochiseyama castle as his residence. Central areas at the top of the peak is surrounded by stone wall, and in front of the area there was a huge stone gate and steps. At the backside of central area there was a place for residence of the lord, and a large palace was built at this area. As backside directly faced attack of enemies, this side was securely guarded by tall stone walls consist of large stones. 

Many terraces were built from top to the halfway of the mountain, and there also existed a large and square shaped traditional palace of the governor built at Takada period. The total size of the castle was 500 meter square, and it was a splendid castle suitable for major general of Oda clan.

Nagahide after the death of Nobunaga

When Nobunaga died at the accident of Honnoji, a coup d’etat by his general Mitsuhide Akechi (1528-1582) in 1582, Nobuhide stayed at Osaka castle and was preparing for expedition against Chosokabe clan at Shikoku island witn Nobutaka Oda (1558-1583), third son of Nobunaga. 

Nobutaka and Nagahide was the closest to Mitsuhide, but soldiers of mixed up army ran away hearing the accident and they could not make revenge to Mitsuhide by themselves. In the mean time, Hideyoshi Toyotomi quickly returned from western front with large force, and Nagahide joined Hideyoshi and fought at the battle of Yamazaki against Mitsuhide.

After the battle of Yamazaki, among the conflict of vassals of Oda clan, Nagahide consistently supported Hideyoshi including Kiyosu conference. At the battle of Shizugatake between Hideyoshi and Katsuie in 1583, Nagahide made side attack to Shibata army which made fierce attack to Toyotomi troops and prevented the collapse of front line.

Due to this achievement Nagahide got Echizen and Kaga province then became the largest lord next to Hideyoshi, but died ill in short. It is said that facing his death Nagahide insinuated Hideyoshi who made light of former Oda family, but this result was obvious when he supported Hideyoshi and this action does not become to the character of Nagahide.

After the death of Nagahide, the territory of Niwa clan was significantly decreased as under unstable situation Hideyoshi did not leave large territory to young and inexperienced his son Nagashige Niwa (1571-1637). Niwa clan passed hard time for a while, but finally survived as a feudal lord under Edo shogunate being evaluated its castle construction skill and built excellent castles such as Shirakawa castle or Nihonmatsu castle (Fukushima prefecture).

Afterward of the castle

As a replacement of Niwa clan, Hideyoshi appointed his relative such as Asano clan or Kinoshita clan as the commander of the castle. After the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Takatsugu Kyogoku (1563-1609) was appointed as a lord of Wakasa province in 1600. 

To directly grasp the town and port Takatsugu started to build a new castle at the seaside next year, but the construction took long time and Kyogoku clan was transferred to Izumo province and Iwami province (Shimane prefecture) in 1634 before completion of new castle. Next governor Sakai clan finally completed new Obama castle by 1642 and Nochiseyama castle was abolished then.

Now all buildings were lost but structures and stone walls of central area still remain at the peak of the mountain. At the hillside there are many temples, shrines and old houses, and it shows this place had been the center of Wakasa province for long time.


15 minutes walk from JR West Obama-sen line Obama station. 15 minutes drive from Maizuru-Wakasa Jidoshado Expressway Obama interchange. 30 minutes walk from hillside entrance near the eastern end of Nochiseyama tunnel to hilltop castle.

Related Castles

Sawayama Castle -Castle undeserved for Mitsunari-
Shirakawa Castle -Gate to Tohoku region-
Obama Castle -Distinguished lord who showed backbone-


Pictures (click to enlarge)

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