Saturday, August 29, 2015

Hinoe Castle -Majestic castle of pious Christian lord-

Hinoe Castle

-Majestic castle of pious Christian lord-



Name: Hinoe castle (Hinoe-jo)
Place: Kita-Arima cho Minami-Shimabara city, Nagasaki
Location: 32.660510254960904, 130.2546702630874
Type: Hill Castle
Built: 16th century
Remaining remnants: Stone walls, clay walls and dry moats 

Brief History

Hinoe castle (日野江城) is located at the tip of long ridge continued southward from Mt. Unzen, at the south coast of Shimabara peninsula. Shimabara peninsula is a part of Kyushu island but at the tip of long and winding peninsula separated by mountains, it had been an area considerably separated from the center of Kyushu island. On the other hand, Shimabara peninsula is located at the center of Ariake Sea and worked as the center of marine transportation at western half of Kyushu island, and this character strongly affected the history of Shimabara peninsula.

Origin of Hinoe castle

Precise year is unknown but Hinoe castle was built by Arima clan in 14th century. Arima clan was a local lord of this area said as a descendant of Sumitomo Fujiwara (893-941) who made large rebellion in western Japan in 10th century at the same time of rebellion by Masakado Taira (?-940), but their actual origin was a native small local lord of Shimabara peninsula.

Arima clan had been a small local lord at the south part of Shimabara peninsula for long time, but since the beginning of 16th century they expanded their territory and changed into a warlord. At the time of Haruzumi Arima (1485-1566), Arima clan seized whole part of Shimabara peninsula and sent his son to surrounding lords such as Omura clan or Matsura clan as a successor. Arima clan earned enormous profit from marine transportation, and furthermore in 1550 Portuguese mission came to Kuchinotsu port next to Hinoe castle and foreign trade started.

But on and after 1560's, Ryuzoji clan which was the lord of Saga castle (Saga prefecture) rejected the attack of Otomo clan and started to grew. Being lead by Takanobu Ryuzoji (1529-1584) who was a brave lord praised as "bear of Hizen", Ryuzoji clan rapidly grew and forced surrounding warlords to subordinate. In 1563 Arima clan and Omura clan made a preemptive attack to Ryuzoji clan but was defeated, and Takanobu seized whole part of current Saga prefecture by 1570. Takanobu rejected attack by overwhelming Otomo army at that year, and next aimed at current Nagasaki prefecture.

Difficulty of Arima clan

Harunobu Arima (1567-1612), son of Haruzumi and young leader of Arima clan at that time, tried to oppose against strong Ryuzoji clan somehow. At first Harunobu hated Catholic brought by his father, but to acquire weapons and profits through foreign trade Harunobu admitted Christianity in reversal. During the tough situation suppressed by strong Ryuzoji clan, Harunobu finally came to believe in it in 1580 and got the Christian name of Don Protajio.  

Arima clan once subordinated to Ryuzoji clan which became the ruler of north part of Kyushu island after the fall of Otomo clan in 1578, but Takanobu Ryuzoji made cruel behavior to retainers at that time and lost the loyalty of local lords. In 1584, Takanobu allied with rising Shimazu clan which was the governor of Satsuma province (Kagoshima prefecture) and seized south part of Kyushu island and left Ryuzoji clan. 

Furious Takanobu lead 50,000 soldiers and attacked allied army of Arima clan and Shimazu clan at Okitanawate near current Shimabara castle. But negligent Ryuzoji army forcibly charged into muddy area and was separated, and main army of Takanobu was tricked by ambush tactics of Iehisa Shimazu (1547-1587), the commander of Shimazu clan, protruded into the enemy and isolated. Finally Takanobu was killed in the battle, and hegemony of Ryuzoji clan collapsed in one day battle then Arima clan barely could survive as a lord. 

Structure of Hinoe castle

After the fall of Ryuzoji clan Arima clan once followed to Shimazu clan, but when central ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598) made expedition against Shimazu clan in 1587, Harunobu left Shimazu clan and turned to Hideyoshi. Finally Arima clan was admitted as a lord of south part of Shimabara peninsula by Toyotomi government. As a feudal lord, Harunobu reformed Hinoe castle and its branch castle Hara castle into modern castles.

Main body of Hinoe castle spread over the hill of 400 meter long and 200 meter width separated from connecting ridge by valley. Core area of the castle is located in the eastern half, and consist of central area at highest place, secondary area at southeast ward and third area at westward. Another peak at western half was used as a front fort from castle town, and numerous terraces were built surrounding these areas.

Originally main gate of the castle might be the west part of the hill, but Harunobu reformed eastern slope of the hill and changed the front of Hinoe castle to this side. Three layer of large terraces separated by stone walls were built, and as a result of excavation a broad stone steps over 10 meter wide was found at this area. This might be the main route to the palace of Harunobu, and equivalent to the one of Azuchi castle or Osaka castle built by central ruler. Furthermore, a gold painted roofing block only used at castles approved by Hideyoshi, and this fact shows the importance and majesty of Hinoe castle.

Pious Christian lord

Harunobu survived crisis deeply trusted Christianity. In 1582, three lords including Harunobu, Yoshishige Otomo (1530-1587) and Sumitada Omura (1533-1587) sent young four envoys to Spain and Rome, to show their religion to Western world. Church and colleges was built at castle town, and Christian culture was brought to the territory. But on the another side, Harunobu strongly suppressed other religions and broke many temples and shrines.

In 1587, Hideyoshi Toyotomi changed to ban Christianity in Japan. Sumitada Omura donated current Nagasaki port to the church in 1580, and it might be made by pure intention or just to protect Nagasaki port from Ryuzoji clan but accepted as a break of the unity and history of Japan and reminded possibility of colonization by western countries (To make sure, shrines or temples also had vast territory donated from nobles and lords at that time). Trades with western countries were not necessarily fair, and Christian lords did not coexist with other religions then evoked social disorder. But at this time the banning was a nominal one and personal belief was still connived.

After the death of Hideyoshi, at the conflict between Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616) and Mitsunari Ishida (1560-1600), Harunobu at first supported Mitsunari but hearing the victory of Ieyasu, he changed to Ieyasu and attacked Uto castle held by Yukinaga Konishi (1558-1600) at Ishida side. Harunobu was approved as a lord of Shimabara peninsula under Edo Shogunate, and Ieyasu let his daughter to marry with Naozumi Arima (1586-1641), son of Harunobu. This was a unprecedented treatment for small lord, but Ieyasu might hope to grip Arima clan who managed trade with Western countries.

Ban of Christianity and punishment for Arima clan

But at that time Protestant nations who did not intend to spread the religion came to Japan, and the necessity of foreign trade with Catholic nations decreased. Furthermore, Edo Shogunate seems foreign trades by local lords as risky and hoped to control it by themselves. Among such situation, in 1609, trade ship of Arima clan made conflict with citizen of Macau city and many crew was killed. Portuguese admiral came to Japan to apologize this fact, but under the order of Ieyasu, Arinobu attacked and sunk him as a revenge.

It seemed the situation was settled, but at this time Arinobu was tricked that Ieyasu would return former territory deprived by Ryuzoji clan as a reward, and gave a bribe to the staff of Shogunate named Daihachi Okamoto. As it was found that Daihachi made fake sign of Ieyasu, then furious Shogunate executed Daihachi. On the other hand, Harunobu was also accused to gave a bribe, and Shogunate could not admit private foreign trade by Arima clan which became the source of bribe any more. 

As a result, Harunobu was deprived his territory and exiled to Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture). Finally Harunobu was ordered to kill himself, but following the belief Harunobu denied it and was killed by his retainer. Territory of Arima clan was kept by Arizumi Arima, but Arizumi originally hated Christianity and suppressed the belief under the order of Shogunate. But situation of the territory became quite unstable, thus two years later Arizumi moved to Nobeoka castle (Miyazaki prefecture) and Shimabara peninsula was temporally managed by Edo Shogunate directly.

Afterward of Hinoe castle

In 1616, Shigemasa Matsukura (1574-1630) was appointed as a lord of Shimabara peninsula as a reward for achievement at the battle of Osaka castle. Shigemasa at first used Hinoe castle, but in 1618 Shigemasa abolished Hinoe castle and Hara castle under Ikkoku Ichijyo Rei (one domain one castle rule) and newly built Shimabara castle. Buildings of Hinoe castle was broken at this time, but after the cease of Shimabara no Ran (rebellion of Shimabara castle), castle site was totally demolished to prevent reuse.

Now castle site became devastated but investigation and preparation is proceeding. Most part of stone walls were broken but some walls and paths were covered by sand, and former shape of the castle including tall stone walls above broad stone steps is gradually revealed. Now ruin of Hinoe castle is scheduled to be recommended as a candidate of World Heritage as a Church in Nagasaki area and related ruins along with Hara castle.


90 minutes drive from Nagasaki Jidoshado Expressway Isahaya interchange.

Related Castles

Shimabara Castle -Highly complete castle isolated from local residents-
Hara Castle -Ruin of repose of souls-
Nobeoka Castle -Castle of one point luxury style-


Pictures (click to enlarge)

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