Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Uda Matsuyama Castle -Fate of castle town without castle-

Uda Matsuyama Castle

-Fate of castle town without castle-



Name: Uda Matsuyama castle (Uda Matsuyama-jo)
Alias: Akiyama Castle (Akiyama-jo)
Place: Ouda-Iwashimizu Uda city, Nara
Type: Mountain Castle
Built: Originally unknown, expanded in 16th and 17th century
Remaining remnants: Stone walls clay walls, moats and town gate
Title: 100 more famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Uda Matsuyama castle (宇陀松山城) is located at Kojyosan mountain, one of over 100 meter height from the hillside at the east edge of Ouda town. Ouda town places at a small basin in the Yamato highland around the east edge of Yamato province (Nara prefecture). Uda area is an important area of connecting Yamato country and Ise province (Mie prefecture), and roads from Matsusaka city, Nabari city (Mie prefecture), Yagyu area in the east part of Nara city, Sakurai area at the south half of Nara basin, and Yoshino area in the southern mountainous area meet at this point.

Uda Matsuyama castle under Akiyama clan

Precise year of build is unknown but Uda Matsuyama castle was built by Akiyama clan, the local lord of this area by 14th century. In medieval era, there was no central authority in Yamato province (Nara prefecture) and the country was governed by religious powers such as Kofukuji temple or Todaiji temple, and many local lords. Akiyama clan was one of the largest local lords, along with Tsutsui clan, Ochi clan, Toichi clan, Hashio clan. 

Akiyama clan was originally said as magistrate of manor of Ise Shrine at Ise country (Mie prefecture). Due to its origin and geographical condition, Akiyama clan had served to Kitabatake clan, the military noble and governor of Ise province long time. In the middle of 16th century, Hisahide Matsunaga (1510-1577) who was originally the general under Nagayoshi Miyoshi (1522-1564) invaded to Yamato province and fiercely fought with Tsutsui clan, the most strongest local lord at north part of Yamato province. 

Akiyama clan supported Tsutsui clan, and fought with Toichi clan which belonged to Hisahide. In 1559, Akiyama clan occupied Ryuozan castle, the main castle of Toichi clan at Tenri city and expanded their teritory. Once Hisahide recovered this power under the support of central ruler Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), but Hisahide finally betrayed Nobunaga and died at Shigisan castle in 1575. Tsutsui clan was appointed as the governor of Yamato province by Nobunaga, and Akiyama clan also kept their territory.

Expansion by Hidenaga Toyotomi

After the death of Nobunaga in 1582, next ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598) thought Yamato country as an important place which directly faces his main territory Osaka city and Kyoto city, then placed his most trustable younger brother Hidenaga Toyotomi (1540-1591) replacing Tsutsui clan. As Hidenaga directly governed Yamato country, Akiyama clan left Uda Matsuyama castle.

Hidenaga resided Koriyama castle (Yamato Koriyama city), and broke many medieval castles. But Uda Matsuyama castle was expanded and reformed into a modern castle equipped stone walls as a base of east area, along with Takatori castle (Takatori town) at the south part of the country.

The castle spread over the peak of the mountain and total size is about 100 meter width and 400 meter long. The central area at the highest place is a rectangular area of 50 meter width and 100 meter long, and is guarded its front side by low stone wall and had a small height used as a basement of watchtower at inner edge. 

Wide terrace was built at west side and east side of central area, and main route from hillside area passes through west side area was decorated by stone walls. Backside of the castle was separated by deep dry moat from outside area, and front side was also guarded by dry moat and clay walls. Uda Akiyama castle is a mixture of medieval castle and modern castle.

Hidenaga placed his general at this castle, and after the death of Hidenaga in 1591, this castle was managed by generals of Hideyoshi. After the battle of Sekigahara, Takaharu Fukushima (1573-1633), younger brother of Masanori Fukushima (1561-1624) became the commander of this castle. Masanori Fukushima was a brave general under Hideyoshi and regarded as one of the seven braves at the battle of Shizugatake in 1583. Takaharu also served to Hideyoshi from youth, and became the commander of Nagashima castle (Mie prefecture).

Domain leaders in early Edo era

At the battle of Sekigahara, due to a conflict with civilians of former Toyotomi government such as Mitsinari Ishida (1560-1600), Masanori and Takaharu supported Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), the largest lord under Toyotomi government, and significantly contributed to the victory of Ieyasu. After the battle, Masanori became the large lord of Aki country and Bingo country (Hiroshima prefecture), and Takaharu also became the lord of Uda Matsuyama castle. 

Takaharu reformed the castle and developed castle town, but because of suspect of supporting Hideyori Toyotomi (1593-1615), the son of Hideyoshi, at the battle of Osaka castle, Takaharu lost the domain and was expelled. This time Uda Matsuyama castle was also abolished and destructed in 1615.

After Fukushima clan, Nobukatsu Oda (1558-1630) became the lord of Uda Matsuyama domain, but Nobukatsu did not use the broken castle and built his residence at castle town. Nobukatsu was the second son of former ruler Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582) and served the lord of Tamaru castle, but after the death of Nobunaga he was deprived the hegemony by Hideyoshi and fell into a small lord. 

Nobukatsu was said as incompetent, but truly therefore he survived the turbulent period and continued the bloodline of the ruler to future generations. Ieyasu paid courtesy to the house of former ruler and treated as the governor of the country, but in 1694 due to an internal conflict the domain leader killed important retainers and himself, thus Oda clan was transferred to Kaibara domain (Hyogo prefecture) and Uda Matsuyama town became the territory direct governed by Edo Shogunate.

Prosper of castle town without castle

Usually if castle was abolished, castle town also disappeared because retainers of the lord and merchants moved to new castle. But this time there was no new castle, and Shogunate continuously treated castle town as important town. Utilizing its location Uda Matsuyama town prospered as a distribution place of goods, and was said as "Uda Senken" (1000 merchants in Uda town). In Meiji era Uda Matsuyama town worked as a regional center and regional government office and court were built, but along with development of highway and transportation it ceased the function as a distribution place.

Today once the castle was broken, but structure of the castle is still well remain on the mountain. Combination of dynamic undulation and broken stone walls well seen in winter season has a characteristic charm. At hillside traditional town consist of old merchant houses is kept, and original town gate at west border still remains. 


Bus from Kintetsu Osaka line Haibara station to Ouda busstop. 30 minutes drive from Meihan Kokudo Road Hari interchange.

Related Castles

Koriyama Castle -Wise younger brother devoted himself to Hideyoshi-
Takatori Castle -Gigantic fortress at mountain-


Pictures (click to enlarge)

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