Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Takaoka Castle -Retirement place only used for 6 years-

Takaoka Castle

-Retirement place only used for 6 years-



Name: Takaoka Castle (Takaoka-jo)
Place: Kojo Takaoka city, Toyama
Location: 36.74962140127107, 137.01996057520176
Type: Flat Castle
Built: 1609
Remaining remnants: Stone walls, clay walls and water moats 
Title: 100 famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Takaoka castle (高岡城) is located at the center of Takaoka city, the center of western part of Ecchu province (Toyama prefecture). Takaoka area is the western half of Toyama plain, and historically the center of Ecchu province until Muromachi era. 

In 8th century, a famous Japanese short poem writer Yakamochi Otomo (718-785) came to Takaoka area as the governor of Ecchu province, and made many poem. Takaoka area is a crossing point of Hokuriku-Kaido road, a trunk line of Hokuriku regions spread east and west direction, and the road from Nanao city of Noto province or from inland mountainous area such as Gokayama area, and regarded as important place of communication.

Build of Takaoka castle

Takaoka castle was built by Toshinaga Maeda (1562-1614), the first domain leader of Kaga domain at Kanazawa castle as a retirement place in 1609. Toshinaga succeeded leader position from his father Toshiie Maeda (1538-1599) at 1599, and could survive Maeda clan among the confusion after the death of former ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598) in 1598. In 1605, Toshinaga was still 43 years old but retired, and lived at Toyama castle (Toyama prefecture). 

The reason of early retirement was unknown but he might exhausted among the crisis of Maeda clan, and also wanted to leave the leader position to his younger brother Toshitsune Maeda (1594-1658) who married with the daughter of Hidetada Tokugawa (1579-1632) , the second Shogun of Edo shogunate, to ascertain the continuation of the clan.

Toshinaga at first entered Toyama castle, but Toyama castle was burnt down in 1609. Toshinaga temporary moved to Uozu castle (Toyama prefecture), and asked permission for building new castle to Edo Shogunate. This request was approved, and Toshinaga built new castle at that year and named it as Takaoka castle. It is said that the planning of the castle was made by Shigetomo Takayama (1552-1615, famous as his middle name Ukon). 

Shigetomo was a Christian lord who had the Christian name as Don Just, and also was a master of tea ceremony as one the seven pupil of tea master Rikyu Sen (1552-1591). Shigetomo was known for his braveness and originally a warlord of Takatsuki castle (Osaka prefecture) but due to violation of anti Christian order by Hideyoshi and exiled to Kaga domain.

Structure of Takaoka castle

The shape of Takaoka castle was a rectangle of 400 meter long and 200 meter wide. The central area of the castle is 200 meter square and located at middle part of western edge, and small areas surrounds north, east and south of central area. As westward of the castle was originally a marsh, and there was no necessity to guard this side. Each area is guarded by stone walls and surrounded by wide water moat, and it looks like a water castle even though located inland.

The planning of this castle consist of large central area and small surrounding area is highly affected by Jurakudai (Kyoto city), an official residence of Hideyoshi Toyotomi at Kyoto. As a matter of function, these small separated outer areas are thought as not appropriate for defense, because it obstructs the movement of soldiers and enhances the risk of individual defeat. But this style also could raise the authority of the lord lives in central area, and dents and bumps of the stone walls brought beautiful view along with water moats.

Afterward of Takaoka castle

As a lord of the castle Toshinaga made effort for the development of castle town, but before his death Toshinaga asked the destruction of the castle to Edo Shogunate and was approved. In 1614, Toshinaga died in ill, and next year Takaoka castle was abolished by Ikkoku Ichijyo Rei (one domain one castle rule) announced in that year. 

At the same time of the death of Toshinaga, Shigetomo Takayama who planned this castle was expelled to Philippines, and Shigetomo died there with his faith. Later Maeda clan rebuilt Toyama castle as the center of Ecchu province, but kept the ruin of Takaoka castle as a base in case of emergency.

Takaoka city lost their castle but kept growth as a center of western part of Ecchu country. Now all building was lost and castle site became a park. Most part of stone wall were lost at the time of abolition, but still remains at the both side of clay bridge into central area. Now castle site is used as a park, and in spring beautiful view of cherry blossoms reflects at the water moat is seen.


15 minutes walk from Ainokaze Toyama Tetsudo line (former Hokuriku Honsen line) Takaoka station. 15 minutes drive from Noetsu Jidoshado Expressway Takaoka interchange.

Related Castles

Kanazawa Castle -Elegant castle of close friend of the ruler-
Toyama Castle -Man of pride and honor resisted to ruler-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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