Thursday, September 11, 2014

Yagami Castle -Resistance and end of Hatano clan-

Yagami Castle

-Resistance and end of Hatano clan-



Name: Yagami castle (Yagami-jo)
Place: Tonomachi Sasayama city, Hyogo
Type: Mountain Castle
Built: 1508
Remaining remnants: Stone walls, clay walls and moats

Brief History

Yagami castle (八上城) is located at Takashiro-yama mountain, one of 400 meter height from sea level at the southeast area of Sasayama city. Takashiro-yama mountain is a beautiful corn shaped mountain like Mt. Fuji, and called as “Tanba Fuji” (little Mt. Fuji at Tanba province). Yagami castle is one of the largest mountain castle in Tanba province, and regarded as three large mountain castle of Tanba province along with Yagi castle (Kameoka city) and Kuroi castle (Tanba city).

Rise of Hatano clan

Tanba province mainly consist of four basins, it mean Hikami basin and Sasayama basin (Hyogo prefecture), Kameoka basin and Fukuchiyama basin (Kyoto prefecture) separated by steep mountains. Tanba province is a mountainous area but directly adjoined to Kyoto city, the old capital of Japan, thus central government thought important of this province. From Kyoto city, Tanba province was an important defense line and also entrance into Sanin region.

In Muromachi era, Tanba province was held by Hosokawa clan, one of the highest retainer of Muromachi Shogunate and governed by deputy governor Naito clan. Hosokawa clan seized hegemony of Kinki region at the beginning of 16th century, but due to internal conflict its power declined in next decades and finally kicked out by  their general Nagayoshi Miyoshi (1522-1564). 

Among such situation, local lords of Tanba clan gradually grew their power. Hatano clan was originally new comer to Tanba province after the battle of Onin (1467-1477), but Tanemichi Hatano (1496-1545) was a brilliant general and seized Tanba province from Naito clan, then built Yagami castle as their residence in 1508. Tanemichi who gained Tanba province intervened to the political conflict of central area, and regarded as a talented general.

Expansion and structure of Yagami castle

His son Harumichi Hatano (?-1560) once lost Yagami castle by Hisahide Matsunaga (1510-1677), a general of Nagayoshi Miyoshi and his younger brother Nagayori Matsunaga (?-1565) in 1557. Harumichi’s son Hideharu Hatano (?-1579) once subordinated to Miyoshi clan, but after the death of Nagayori, Hideharu recovered Yagami castle in 1566, being supported by Naomasa Akai (152-1578), a brave lord of Kuroi castle at Hikami basin, and Nagaharu Bessho (1558-1580), his brother in law at Miki castle. As a strong lord of the area, Hatano clan gradually expanded Yagami castle into a large fortress.

As seen from distant area, Takashiro-yama mountain consists of corn shaped peak area and ridges spread from halfway toward northeast ward and northwest ward, and structure of the castle spread along these areas. Hilltop area is about 10 connecting areas spread over 200 meter from its peak toward west along the ridge, and entrance from hillside area into third area and front wall of central area is protected by stone wall. 

The ridge spreads toward northwest from hilltop area is the main route from hillside, and over 10 terraces are built along the ridge. On the other hand, the ridge continues toward northwest is the backside route, and several large terraces are made along the ridge. At the northwest side of the hill there are three level flat lands, and this place is used as a residence of the lord. Surrounding Yagami castle, many forts such as Okutani castle, Houkouji castle or Yodoyama castle were built, and the whole neighborhood of the castle were secured area deserved for the main base of Hatano clan.

Resistance against Oda government

In 1568 Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), a warlord of Owari province (western half of Aichi prefecture) marched to Kyoto and became the central ruler, and Hideharu once made friendship with Nobunaga.

But in 1575, to prevent expansion of Akai clan and guard Kyoto city, Nobunaga ordered his general Mitsuhide Akechi (1528-1582) to conquer Tanba province. At first Hatano clan and other local lords except for Akai clan supported Mitsuhide, and Mitsuhide easily sieged Kuroi castle, which was the main base of Akai clan. 

But when Mitsuhide arrived at Kuroi castle, Harumichi and other lords suddenly betrayed Mitsuhide and attacked his army in 1576. As isolated the deep inside at Tanba province, Mitsuhide caused a severe defeat and barely escaped to Kyoto. Hatano clan once kept their indepedence.

End of Hatano clan

But one and half year after Mitsuhide started his operation to Tanba country again. This time Mitsuhide steadily expand his territory and built many castles to guard his supply line. Next year Mitsuhide reached to Yagami castle and Kuroi castle again, and encircled boths castle and built Kinzan castle (Hyogo prefecture) between them. Just this time Naomasa Akai died in ill, and the cooperation between local lords collapsed. 

In June 1579, after one year encirclement and over 10 time attack, Yagami castle lost its supply and became starve. Due to the plot of Mitsuhide, internal conflict occurred at Yagami castle and Hideharu was captured with his two brothers. Three brothers were sent to Azuchi castle, the main base of Nobunaga, and killed at there. 

As a tale, it is said that Mitsuhide offered his old mother as a hostage to Hatano clan to open the castle. But as Hatano brothers were killed, Mitsuhide’s mother was also murdered by castle soldiers, and this became the cause of the incident of Honnoji, a coup d’etat by Mitsuhide against Nobunaga in 1582. But there is no record to certificate this fact, and if such thing occurs it might be recorded at "Shinchokoki", a precise biography of Nobunaga. 

Yagami castle after Hatano clan

After the fall, Mitsutada Akechi (1540-1582), a relative of Mitsuhide was placed as a commander of Yagami castle. After the fall of Mitsuhide at tbe battle of Yamazaki, Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598) placed his adopted son Hidekatsu Toyotomi (1568-1586) along with Kameyama castle. After the death of Hidekatsu Yagami castle was managed by Geni Maeda (1539-1602), one of five magistrate of Toyotomi government. 

After the battle of Sekigahara Shigekatsu Maeda (1582-1621) was placed at Yagami castle under Edo shogunate, but in 1608 due to deplorable events Shigekatsu was confiscated his territory and expelled. After Shigekatsu, Yasushige Matsudaira (1568-1640), an old retainer of Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), the founder of Edo shogunate, and who was given the sir name of Matsudaira, old name of Ieyasu, was appointed as a commander of Yagami castle. 

Next year Edo Shogunate newly built Sasayama castle, a modern fortress to surpress Toyotomi clan at Osaka castle, located only three kilometer north of Yagami castle. Yasushige moved to Sasayama castle and Yagami castle was abolished.

Today all buildings and most part of stone walls were lost, but the terrain of the castle well remain at the top of the mountain. Further at the southeast hillside of the mountain there was a terrace used as a residence of commander. The beautiful shape of isolated mountain still remind us the indomitable resistance of Hatano clan.


10 minutes walk from Yakami-Honmachi bus stop of Shinki-Green bus from JR West Fukuchiyamasen Sasayamaguchi station to hillside entrance at the backside of Kasuga shrine. 25 minutes drive from Bantan-Jidoshado Expressway Tanba-Sasayamaguchi interchange via Route 372. 45 minutes walk from hillside entrance to hilltop castle.

Related Castles

Sasayama Castle -Secure castle built by joint service of large lords-
Miki Castle -Die to save the people
Kuroi Castle -Castle of red devil in deep mountain-
Kinzan Castle -Time to treason (6) separation of two strong enemies-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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