Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Torigoe Castle -Resistance base in deep mountain-

Torigoe Castle

-Resistance base in deep mountain-



Name: Torigoe castle (Torigoe-jo)
Place: Uenocho Hakusan city, Ishikawa
Location: 36.36642775737271, 136.60076147323585
Type: Mountain Castle
Built: 15th century
Remaining remnants: Stone walls, clay walls and dry moats 
Title: 100 more famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Torigoe castle (鳥越城) is located at the top of Shiroyama mountain, one of about 100 meter above hillside at Torigoe area at 20 kilometer south from Kanazawa city. Torigoe area is a small valley at the middle stream of Tedorigawa river, and a connecting point of roads from Kanazawa area along with Tedorigawa river, from Komatsu area in the middle part of Kaga province (Ishikawa prefecture) passing mountains, and from Mino province (Gifu prefecture) ahead of Hakusan mountain. Because of its isolation from seaside flat area and connection to other areas, it was a suitable place to resist against overwhelming power.

Origin of Ikkoshu

Ikko Ikki army is a armed group of believer of Ikkoshu (formal name is Jyodo Shinshu), a denomination of Japanese Buddhism. Unlike Western world, generally, Japanese religion considerably did not make strong influence to the government prior to Meiji revolution. As generally said ordinary Japanese have multi religion, and religious consciousness of Japanese is not so strong. Shinto thought to be the most dominant religion in Japan is a status quo animism, and substantially believes Nation of Japan itself and Imperial Household. Other dominant religion is Buddhism, but Japanese Buddhism is divided into many denomination and did not make unified action.

But there are some exceptional active denominations, and Jyodo Shinshu (Ikkoshu)is one of such activists. Originally Jyodo Shinshu was formed by Priest Shinran (1173-1263), as an alternation of Jyodoshu which was started by Priest Honen (1133-1212) in 12th century. Prior to Jyoshu, Japanese Buddhism spread at high class society and seek personal relief after long ascetic training. On the other hand, Jyodoshu brought the idea of paradise, and insisted that by making invocations people might be able to go to the paradise. Because of this character, Jyodoshu spreads over common people.

Priest Shinran (1173-1263), the founder of Jyodo Shinshu, is originally a direct pupil of Priest Honen. Unlike other priest Shinran did not build his temple and tried to spread the denomination by direct missionary to the people. But because of the difference from other priest, Shinran was criticized and exiled to Echigo province (Niigata prefecture) for five years. 

Rise of Honganji

Both in the East and the West, generally, denominations which the founder was persecuted tends to be active. Another active denomination of Japanese Buddhism is Nichirenshu formed by Priest Nichiren (1222-1282), and Nichiren also faced tough punishment from Kamakura Shogunate. Anyway Jyodo Shinshu became independent after the death of Shinran, and widely spread around Kinki region and Kanto region.

In 1457, Priest Rennyo (1415-1499) became the leader of Honganji temple, one of the large temples of denomination. Kennyo started his missionary method of writing brief letter stating precept in simple word and sent to believers, and significantly increased the pupil of Honganji. But significant rise of Honganji evoked conflict with traditional and old powers such as Hieizan Enryakuji temple, then Rennyo lost his temple and visited Yoshizaki town, a port town at the border of Echizen province (Fukui prefecture) and Kaga province.

In 1471, Rennyo built Yoshizaki Gobo temple at Yoshizaki town as his residence, and aggressively spread Ikkoshu around Hokuriku region. Just at the time Muromachi Shogunate and governor of each province lost their authority as a result of the Battle of Onin from 1467 to 1477, and endless battle occurred at each province. Common people tired at these battles, and entered Honganji denomination seeking for the relief.

Seizure of Kaga province by Ikko Ikki

But along with the growth of the community, Honganji was also became to be involved into the battles. In 1474, during the internal conflict of Togashi clan, the governor of Kaga province, Masachika Togashi (1455-1488) asked assistance to Honganji group to beat his younger brother. Masachika broke his enemy, but feared the power of Honganji group then changed his attitude and suppressed the group. In response to this, in 1488, Honganji group raised their army against Masachika, and finally fell his residence Takao castle and forced Masachika to suicide. Now Kaga province was seized by Honganji temple and said as the province held by pheasants.

In 1475, Priest Rennyo returned to Kinki region, and Honganji temple prospered more and more, based at Yamashina Honganji temple at the south of Kyoto city. Yamashina Honganji was a huge temple protected by clay walls and water moats like a castle, but in 1532 it was attacked by Hokkeshu believers, the rival of Honganji temple, and Rokkaku clan which was the governor of Omi province (Shiga prefecture) and fell. 

Honganji temple moved to the place of current Osaka castle and built their new main temple named Ishiyama Honganji temple. Temple town of Ishiyama Honganji prospered as a trading city, and Honganji temple earned huge wealth and became equivalent to surrounding warlords.

Struggle with surrounding warlords

In Hokuriku region, Honganji army seized Kaga province tried to expand their power to neighbor provinces in cooperation with local believer. For Echizen province (Fukui prefecture), it was close to Yoshizaki and there were many believers, and this attempt had a possibility to succeed. But Asakura clan, the governor of Echizen province, was a new rise warlord with talented leaders, and rise of Ikko Ikki army was totally suppressed by Norikage Asakura (1477-1555), a brilliant general and military leader of Asakura clan.

In Ecchu province (Toyama prefecture), Ikko Ikki army cooperated with Jinbou clan, the deputy governor of province, and tried to beat the governor Hatakeyama clan. In 1506, Ikko Ikki and Jinbou army defeated Tamekage Uesugi (1464-1506), the deputy governor of Echigo province (Niigata prefecture) who intruded into Ecchu province based on the request from Hatakeyama clan, and killed him at the battle of Hannyano. But since then Nagao clan became the fatal enemy of Ikko Ikki army, and Ikko Ikki army had to continue a struggle against Nagao clan, especially for Kenshin Uesugi (1530-1578), the grandson of Tamekage and was praised as a god of war.

In addition to the failure of foreign expansion, there occurred internal problem inside the group. Honganji temple, the head temple of Jyodo Shinshu, aimed at organizational operation to confront with surrounding warlords, sent their representative to Kaga province and manage local believers. In response to this, local large temples repelled against this, and relating political conflict in Honganji temple, an internal conflict named “Daisho Ikki” occurred in 1531. Honganji head temple won this conflict and became to control Kaga province directly.

Total war against the ruler

This situation continued nearly 30 years, but in 1568, Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), the warlord of Owari province (western half of Aichi prefecture), marched to Kyoto city and became the central ruler. Nobunaga himself did not believe particular religion or denomination, but intended centralization of the power and control all religion under him and did not intend to allow asylum to regional powers. At that time Honganji temple became a virtually independent power like a warlord, and Nobunaga and Honganji were totally inconsistent each other.

In 1570, Honganji army assaulted Oda army which attacked Miyoshi clan, and long conflict between Honganji army and Nobunaga has started. Honganji temple another major base at Nagashima area, a sandbank area of Kisogawa river just next to Owari province, the main province of Nobunaga, and suffered Nobunaga in cooperation with surrounding warlords. Numerous believers and matchlock gunners were the threat to Nobunaga, and rise at Nagashima area killed (?-1570), the younger brother of Nobunaga.

But in 1573, when Shingen Takeda (1521-1573), the warlord of Kai province, died in ill and anti Nobunaga alliance collapsed, Nobunaga started counterattack against Honganji army utilizing divided location of Honganji army. Nobunaga already burnt and destroyed Hieizan Enryakuji Temple a traditional and large temple which resisted against Nobunaga in 1572, and in 1574 Nobunaga sent his entire army to Nagashima area. 

Decline of Ikko Ikki

Nagashima army already rejected the attack of Nobunaga two times, but this time Nobunaga sent numerous ships to prevent the movement and shut the supply line, and after two month siege Ikko Ikki group sterved to die. At last Ikko Ikki army charged to Nobunaga and killed several Nobunaga’s relative, but at last all people was slaughtered and Nagashima temple disappeared.

Next target of Nobunaga was Kaga province. Nobunaga already captured Echizen province at the next of Kaga province defeating Asakura clan in 1573, but once disposed facing the rise of Ikko Ikki army. Ikko Ikki army once captured Echizen province, but due to their internal conflict they significantly weakened their power, and next year Oda army intruded into Echizen province and slaughtered Ikkoshu believers, and recovered Echizen province.

Under such situation, Kaga province became the last distant territory of Honganji, and to protect this province Honganji head temple sent military commander to Kaga province. To Hakusan area, Dewanokami Suzuki (?-?), who might be the person of Suzuki clan, which was the leader of matchlock gunners in Saika group at Kii province (Wakayama prefecture) and famous for its leader Magoichi Suzuki (?-?). Dewanokami at first stayed Futoge castle (二曲城) at the neighbor place of Torigoe castle, but later built Torigoe castle which was larger and at higher place than Futoge castle. Entrance of the valley was protected by Funaoka castle built before.

Structure of Torigoe castle

Torigoe castle is built at a long and narrow mountain surrounded by main stream of Tedorigawa river and its tribute Dainichigawa river. Central area is a rectangular area of 50 meter long and 20 meter width, and equips turret basement and combined gate with folding path at its south side. Front side wall of this combined gate is protected by stone walls, and this wall might be built around 1580 as this stone wall seems the one of transitional period from primitive one to progressive one, with not so large stones but developed processing of corner.

At the south of central area secondary area spreads toward southward, and foundation stones of building are found at the edge. As southward of this castle is a weak point connecting to the next mountain, and this direction might be securely protected. These central area, secondary area and small area behind central area is well shaped and protected by clear and deep dry moats line, thus they might be reformed under the general of Oda clan later.

On the other hand, outer areas in front of and behind these core areas are large but have only gentle slope, and might keep original shape of Suzuki clan. Total size of the castle is about 300 meter long and 50 meter width, and its shape of continuous terraces having higher layer at middle area with commanding area looks like a warship. Futoge castle was a narrow castle with several narrow terrace, but had a secure gate and stone paved floor thus it might be reformed with Torigoe castle.

Resistance and suppression

In 1575, Oda army lead by Katsuie Shibata (1521-1583), the regional commander of Hokuriku region, started to intrude into Kaga province. At first Kenshin Uesugi who feared expansion of Nobunaga changed to support Ikko Ikki army, and this alliance army beat Oda army at the battle of Tedorigawa in 1577. 

But next year Kenshin died in ill and Uesugi clan significantly lost its power due to an internal conflict for successor, then Oda army gradually moved toward north and in 1580 Oda army captured Oyama gobo, the head temple at Kaga prefecture. At the same time, Honganji temple itself made peace with Nobunaga after over 10 years battle and left Osaka area.

But Ikko Ikki group at Hakusan area continued resistance toward Oda army. In 1580, Morimasa Sakuma (1554-1593), the general of Oda army who captured Oyama gobo, moved his army toward Hakusan area to suppress Ikko Ikki army at Hakusan area. But Dewanokami Suzuki skillfully used his matchlock gunners and gave huge damage to Oda army, and attempt of Morimasa once failed. 

End of Ikko Ikki and afterward of castle

Looking at this situation, Katsuie used a plot and offered fake peace to Torigoe castle. Considering tough situation Suzuki Dewanokami accepted this offer and visited Matsuto castle, the base of Oda clan, but Oda army murdered Dewanokami and other generals, and losing leaders Torigoe castle fell just after that. Morimasa might reformed core areas of the castle at this time.

However, people in Hakusan area further continued resistance against Oda army. Next year when Morimasa Sakuma who became the lord of Kanazawa castle moved his army away, remaining people raised the army and once retrieved Torigoe castle and Futoge castle killing two generals of Oda army. But Morimasa promptly attacked these castles, recovered and slaughtered over 300 remaining soldiers. 

Now the history of Ikko Ikki at Kaga province ended, roughly after 100 years after its seizure of the province. Morimasa was executed after the battle of Shizugatake in 1583, and Torigoe castle might be abolished at this time. But Maeda clan became the lord of Kaga province still beware about rebellion at this area, and reformed Funaoka castle at the middle of their main base Kanazawa castle and Torigoe area as a secure castle to protect riot people.

Now all building was lost but the shape of the castle well remain over the mountain. Castle site was nominated as a historical site, and investigations gradually revealed the situation of castle and Ikko Ikki people in old days. Now several buildings were restored based on the result of investigation, and secure castle unlike deep quiet mountainous area is surely a witness of resistance and suppression.


40 minutes drive from Hokuriku-Jidoshado Expressway Hakusan interchange via Route 157.

Related Castles

Funaoka Castle -Border of sacred valley and human realm-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

Torigoe Castle

Futoge Castle

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