Thursday, July 9, 2015

Gujo Hachiman Castle -White wall castle at town of clear stream-

Gujo Hachiman Castle

-White wall castle at town of clear stream-



Name: Gujo Hachiman castle / Gujyo Hachiman castle (Gujo Hachiman-jo)
Place: Hachiman-cho Gujo city, Gifu
Location: 35.753255879360175, 136.9622814638774
Type: Mountain Castle
Built: 1559
Remaining remnants: Stone walls and dry moats 
Title: 100 more famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Gujo Hachiman castle (郡上八幡城) is located at the top of xx mountain, one of 350 meter height above sea level in Gujo city. The site of the castle is a bit apart from main stream of Nagaragawa river and a merging point of Yoshidagawa river and Kodaragagawa river, and being protected its two side and backside mountain it is an suitable place to build a castle. 

Gujo ciy locates in the north part of Mino province (Gifu prefecture) and at the middle of Nagoya city and Kanazawa city or Toyama city. Even though located at deep mountaious area, Gujo area is a junction of roads toward south such as Nagoya city or Gifu city, toward north such as Kanazawa city or Toyama city, toward east to south part of Hida province such as Gero spa, and toward west to Echizen Ono city of Echizen province (Fukui prefecture). As an important place of communication Gujo area prospered in Edo era, and is famous for “Gujo Odori”, a all night festival of Bon dance held in summer.

Local lord good at Japanese poem

In medieval era, Gujo area was governed by Tou clan. Tou clan was originally a branch family of Chiba clan, a traditional and strong one resided at current Chiba prefecture. Higashi clan made achievement at the battle of Jyokyu, the one between Kamakura Shogunate and retired Emperor Gotoba occurred in 1221, and was appointed as a lord of Gujo area by Shogunate.

Even though started from the house of warrior, but Tou clan had been good at Waka (Japanese traditional poem). In the middle of 13th century leader of Tou clan was approved full mastership from former noble and poet Fujiwara clan, then became the house had the qualification to approve the mysteries. Even though a small clan, successive leaders of Tou clan served as a close retainer of Emperor or Shogun utilizing the skill of poem.

At the middle of 15th century, Tsuneyori Tou (1401-1484), the leader of the clan, resided at Shinowaki castle which was at the neighborhood of Gujo Hachiman castle. Being ordered by Yoshimasa Ashikaga (1436-1490), eighth Shogun of Muromachi Shogunate, Tsuneyori made a long expedition to Kanto region to support his origin Chiba clan and suppress anti Shogunate powers. 

But seeing his absence, Myochin Saito (1411-1480), the deputy governor of Mino province, became the opponent of Tou clan and captured Shinowaki castle. But originally Tsuneyori and Myochin frequently seen at poem parties and had close relationship, thus Tsuneyori passionately told his sadness of the break and request for recovery of the castle to Myochin by poems, and impressed Myochin returned Sasawaki castle to Tsuneyori. Even though in turbulent period, it is still an old good period when elegant tradition still existed.

Uprise of Endo clan

However, in 16th century, Tou clan became involved in much harder situation. In 1540, Asakura clan which was the strong warlord of Echizen province intruded into Mino province and siege Tou clan at Shinowaki castle. Tou clan barely rejected this invasion, but considering the weakness of Shinowaki castle, Tou clan expaned Toudonomayama castle at the opposite of Yoshidagawa river from Gujo Hachiman castle and moved there.

Furthermore, in the middle of 16th century, an internal conflict for leader position occurred between main stream of Tou clan and its branch family Endo clan. In 1559, Morikazu Endo (?-1562), leader of Endo clan, attacked Toudonoyama castle and finally fell it. Leader of Tou clan escaped to Hida province, and Endo clan became the lord of Gujo area. As a new lord Morikazu built a new castle at Hachimanyama mountain where he stayed at the siege of Toudonoyama castle.

Endo clan at first served to Tatsuoki Saito (1548-1573), the governor of Mino province. Later when Tatsuoki was expelled from Mino province by Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), the warlord of Owari prvince (western half of Aichi prefecture), Yoshitaka Endo (1550-1632), successor of Moriakzu, belonged to Nobunaga. 

When Shingen Takeda (1521-1573), the strong warlord of Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture) attacked Nobunaga, Yoshitaka secretly connected with Shingen, but after the death of Shingen Yoshitaka innocently returned to Nobunaga. Fortunately his attempt was not known by Nobunaga then there was no punishment.

By the way, there is a story that Kenshoin (1557-1617), who is known as wise wife of Kazutoyo Yamanouchi (1545-1605) that was the lord of Kakegawa castle (Shizuoka prefecture) or Kochi castle (Kochi prefecture), is a descendant of this Endo clan. Because of this reason, there is a memorial of her at the place of the castle.

Change of the castle lord

After the death of Nobunaga at the incident of Honnoji in 1582, Yoshitaka supported Nobutaka Oda (1558-1583), the third son of Nobunaga and held Mino province, and fought with Hideyoshi Hashiba (1537-1598, later Hideyoshi Toyotomi), the commander of Nobunaga and aimed at next hegemony. Yoshitaka well stood the attack of overwhelming Hideyoshi army, but seeing the defeat of Nobutaka and Katsuie Shibata (1521-1583), another strong commander of Nobunaga and supported Nobutaka, finally Yoshitaka surrendered to Hideyoshi. But several years later Hideyoshi punished Yoshitaka and transferred him to smaller territory in 1588. 

As a next lord, Sadamichi Inaba (1546-1603) was appointed as the lord of the castle by Toyotomi government. Sadamichi was the second son of Yoshimichi Inaba (1515-1589, known as his Buddhist name Ittetsu) who was one of the three strong local retainers of Mino province and support the occupation of Mino province by Nobunaga. After the death of Nobunaga, Sadamichi supported Hideyoshi and got Gujo area in addition to his original territory. Sadamichi who became the lord of Hachiman castle renovated Hachiman castle into a modern castle equips stone walls.

Structure of Gujo Hachiman castle

Gujo Hachiman castle consist of hilltop area and hillside terraces, and hilltop area spreads over the ridge of the mountain continues north and southward. At the peak of the mountain there is a main tower basement of 25 meter square, but it is unknown if main tower was actually built on this basement. 

Sakuranomaru area and Matsunomaru area exist at the south and north of main tower basement, and two corridor area runs western side slope which faces the castle town. Combined gate is built just below of Matsunomaru area and this might be the main gate from hillside area. Even though being partially mixed with construction in modern era, but slopes of these area are fully covered with stone walls.

Ahead of saddle point formerly used as a dry moat, long and narrow outer area spreads along the ridge and keeps old style. Ahead of this area there was a backside entrance to the castle, and it was a place of fierce fight at the siege in 1600. As hilltop area was narrow and inconvenient, Inaba clan built hilltop terraces such as secondary area currently used as a site of shrine and parking, or third area now used as a place of Anyoji temple. Main gate of the castle existed at the western side of the mountain, and two rivers worked as an outer barrier.

Come back of Endo clan

After the death of Hideyoshi in 1598, Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), the largest lord under Toyotomi government, and Mitsunari Ishida (1560-1600), fought for the next hegemony. As Hidenobu Oda (1580-1605), the grandson of Nobunaga and lord of Gifu castle supported Mitsunari, Sadamichi at first belonged to Ishida side and guarded Inuyama castle (Aichi prefecture). On the other hand, Yoshitaka Endo and hoped to recover Gujo area and belonged to Ieyasu.

At the end of August 1600, Yoshitaka attacked Gujo castle with his reinforement Kanamori army. After a fierce fight Yoshitaka and remaining Inaba general agreed to open the castle. But at that time, Sadamichi who surrendered to Ieyasu returned to Gujo Hachiman castle and attacked the castle held by Yoshitaka, and this time Yoshitaka suffered defeat and left the castle. Finally after the battle of Sekigahara between Ieyasu and Mitsunari, Yoshitaka was praised his support to Ieyasu and recovered Gujo Hachiman castle. On the other hand, Sadamichi also activated at the siege of Minakuchi Okayama castle, and moved to Usuki castle (Oita prefecture) with larger territory.

Endo clan who came back to the lord of Gujo domain continued nearly 100 years, but at the end of 17th century because of internal troubles and no successors, Endo clan was moved to Kanto region with smaller territory and left Gujo area. After Endo clan, hereditary retainer of Edo Shogunate such as Inoue clan, Kanamori clan or Aoyama clan until the end of Edo Shogunate.

Afterward of the castle

Subsequent to Meiji revolution, all building of the castle was destructed but stone walls were kept. In 1933, a main tower like building was built on the ruin of the castle in wooden style. Although this tower is totally different from original building, but already has a history over 80 years and achieved historical presence.
 Furthermore, being supported by the fact that Gujo town was a apart from the main road along Nagaragawa river, old castle town is still kept at the side of the castle and praised as a little Kyoto. Combination of blue river, green mountain and white building decorated with traditional looking houses has a vivid atmosphere, especially in summer season when Gujo Odori festival is held. 


25 minutes walk from Nagaragawa Tetsudo line Etsuminansen line Gujo Hachiman station. 10 minutes drive from Tokai-Hokuriku Jidosyado Expressway Gujo Hachiman interchange.

Related Castles

Usuki Castle -Unfulfilled dream of Catholic kingdom-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

No comments:

Post a Comment