Friday, October 12, 2018

Anamizu Castle -Ghastly revenge-

Anamizu Castle

-Ghastly revenge-



Name: Anamizu castle (Anamizu-jo)
Alias: Shiranami jo (Shiranami castle)
Place: Kawashima Anamizu town, Ishikawa
Type: Hill Castle
Built: 15th century
Remaining remnants: Clay walls and moats 

Brief History

Anamizu castle (穴水城) is built on the hill of about 50 meter above sea level at the east of center of current Anamizu town, at the opposite side of Omata-gawa river. Anamizu area is a flat area of about 1 kilometer long and 300 meter wide at river mouth, and locates at the top of “C” letter shaped Nanao bay along with Nanao area at the bottom and Nakashima area at the side.

Anamizu area itself is a good port protected by two small peninsulas. Furthermore, Anamizu area is an entrance of north coast of Noto Peninsula such as Wajima area or east tip of peninsula such as Suzu area from its root. Even today Anamizu area is important destination or passing point of trains or roads.

Origin of Anamizu castle and Cho clan

Precise year is unknown but Anamizu castle might be built by local lord Cho clan in 15th century. Cho clan was a descendant of Nobutsura Hasebe (?-1218), who was originally a guard of Prince Mochihito (1151-1180) who raised army against Taira clan which controlled the government in the middle of 12th century.

This rising failed and Prince Mochihito lost in the battle before overwhelming army of Taira clan. Nobutsura was captured in the battle but did not surrender and give information to Taira clan, and being evaluated his loyalty to his master, Nobutsura avoided execution and only was exiled.

After the fall of Taira clan by Yoritomo Minamoto (1147-1199) who was the founder of Kamakura Shogunate, Nobutsura once retired but was invited by Yoritomo. Nobutsura became an administrative staff of Aki province (Hiroshima prefecture), and also achieved his manor at suzu providence of Noto province (Ishikawa prefecture) and named Cho clan utilizing one letter of their former surname.

Survival in turbulent period

After the fall of Kamakura Shogunate in 1333, there was complex conflict between the South Court of Emperor Godaigo (1288-1339) and Muromachi Shogunate established by Takauji Ashikaga (1305-1358). In addition to internal conflict in Muromachi Shogunate, there were rises of former retainers of Kamakura Shogunate, and whole part of Japan was involved into some kind of battles.

Same as other local lords, Cho clan became a group of branch families because of dividing inheritance culture. Each branch belonged to different powers, both for the continuation of clan and their own interest. Under such turbulence, Cho clan lost their territory at Suzu area and moved to Anamizu area.

After the stabilization under Muromachi Shogunate, Noto province was governed by Hatakeyama clan. Hatakeyama clan was a branch family of Muromachi Shogunate who succeeded the traditional family, and became one of three highest class retainer of Shogunate along with Shiba clan and Hosokawa clan.

As a highest class retainer, main family of Hatakeyama clan served as governor of important provinces near Kyoto city such as Kawachi province, Izumi province (Osaka prefecture) or Kii province (Wakayama prefecture). Their branch family seized the governor of Ecchu province (Toyama prefecture) and Noto province at the end of 14th century.

At first Hatakeyama clan stayed at Kyoto city, and sent their retainer Yusa clan as deputy governor. As north half of Noto peninsula was a combination of small flat areas separated by mountains, Hatakeyama clan did not directly govern this area but indirectly managed by local lords such as Cho clan or Nukui clan of Wajima area. As an important retainer of Hatakeyama clan, Cho clan grew its power and Anamizu castle might be expanded.

Structure of Anamizu castle

Anamizu castle is built at peninsular like narrow hill between deep valleys. Central area of the castle is a rectangular one of about 50 meter long and 20 meter wide, which might have main building of the castle. At the west of central area, secondary area of about 40 meter long and 15 meter wide exist at a bit lower from central area.

Surrounding these two areas, third area remains like a corridor. Backside of central area is separated by wide dry moat from another higher point which might be a front fort which controls choke point toward backside mountains. Residence of the road might be south hillside of the hill, and climbing roads passed the valley and climbed to the backside of central area.

Total size of the castle is about 200 meter long square and relatively large in the north half of Noto peninsula. Omata-gawa river flows in front of castle worked as a natural water moat of the castle, and also a good port. Other than Anamizu castle, Cho clan built several castles throughout their territory such as Tanagi castle or Kabutoyama castle.

Taking control of Hatakeyama clan

Hatakeyama clan at Noto province experienced its peak period in the former half of 16th century under good leader Yoshifusa Hatakeyama (1491-1545). Yoshifusa built huge and secure Nanao castle (Ishikawa prefecture) as his main base, and Nanao town prospered and accepted central nobles escaped from Kyoto city. Yoshifusa also attacked Ecchu province where controlled by local lords and Ikko Ikki army.

However, after the death of Yoshifusa, Hatakeyama significantly lost its power by internal conflict. Ikko Ikki army of Ecchu province reversely attacked Hatakeyama clan, and Hatakeyama clan had to besiege at Nanao castle. As Hatakeyama clan relied on the military power of important retainers including Cho clan, gradually Hatakeyama clan became controlled by the group of important retainers.

At first Nukui clan which contributed to the repulse of Ikko Ikki army seized the power in Hatakeyama clan, but was assassinated in 1555 by Yoshitsuna Hatakeyama (?-1594) who tried to regain the power of the clan. Yoshitsuna subjugated the rebel of other retainer and once established his hegemony.

Among two powers

In response to this, other important retainers such as Yusa clan and Cho clan expelled Yoshitsuna in 1566, and seized the authority again. Retainers placed two person of Hatakeyama clan as puppet leaders but they died in youth, and Yusa clan is suspected to assassinate them who tried to escape from control.

In the middle of 1570’s, two strong power approached to Noto province. From south central ruler Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582) which broke Ikko Ikki army at Echizen province (Fukui prefecture) and started to ascend Kaga province (Ishikawa prefecture). 

On the other hand, Kenshin Uesugi (1530-1578) who was a warlord of Echigo province (Niigata prefecture) and praised as god of war, also captured Ecchu province (Toyama prefecture) and aimed further western area. 

At first both power allied to cope with Takeda clan which was the warlord of Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture), but after severe defeat of Takeda clan at the battle of Nagashino in 1575, Nobunaga and Kenshin broke. As Nobunaga slaughtered Ikko Ikki army, Ikko Ikki army allied with Kenshin and tried to resist it.

Siege of Nanao castle by Kenshin Uesugi

In 1576, Kenshin who completely seized Ecchu province next aimed at Noto province and attacked Nanao castle. Tsugutsura Cho (?-1577), the leader of Cho clan, besieged at Nanao castle and strongly resisted against Uesugi army. Vacant Anamizu castle was fallen by Uesugi army, but Nanao castle stood over one year and once rejected Kenshin.

After the return of Kenshin, Hatakeyama army once made counter attack to remaining army, and Tsugutsura attacked captured Anamizu castle but could not fell. In the meantime, Kenshin attacked Nanao castle again in 1577. This time Hatakeyama army also besieged at Nanao castle, but because of plague lost their nominal leader Haruomaru Hatakeyama (1572-1577) and many soldiers.

To cope with this situation, Tsugutsura sent his second son Tsuratatsu Cho (1546-1619) to Nobunaga for reinforcement army. But Nobunaga accepted it but at this time Nobunaga had to subjugate the rebellion of his retainer Hisahide Matsunaga (1508-1577), Nobunaga could not send large army.

Grudge and revenge

On the other hand, Kenshin made plot to other important retainers such as Tsugumitsu Yusa (?-1581) or Kagetaka Nukui (?-1582). Finally Yusa clan and Nukui clan turned to Kenshin and opened Nanao castle. Tsugutsura and other person of Cho clan were wholly killed by Yusa clan and Nukui clan, and only Tsugutsura survived.

Next Kenshin broke reinforcement army from Nobunaga at the battle of Tedorigawa, but next year Kenshin died in ill and severe internal conflict occurred at Uesugi clan. Looking at this opportunity Tsuratatsu entered Noto province and raised his army. Tsuratatsu captured Anamizu castle, and being separated from Oda army struggled along against Nukui and Yusa army stayed at Nanao castle.

In 1579, this time Nukui clan turned to Nobunaga and opened Nanao castle. Tsugumitsu Yusa and his relative escaped from Nanao castle and concealed themselves, but Tsugutsura Cho tenaciously searched them and found then killed all of Yusa clan. Tsugutsura could accomplish his bloody revenge, and looking this Nukui clan also escaped to Uesugi clan.

Afterward of revenge

After this Tsugutsura became the retainer of Toshiie Maeda (1539-1599), Tsugutsura was attached to Toshiie and became his retainer. After the sudden death of Nobunaga in the incident of Honnoji in 1582, Maeda clan was involved into many battles against the rebellion of local army including Nukui clan, Uesugi clan or his former colleague Narimasa Sassa (1536-1588).

Tsuratatsu activated at many battles and established his position as an important retainer of Maeda clan. Tsuratatsu followed the battle of Osaka castle in 1615, the last battle of Sengoku period, and became one of eight important retainer of Kaga domain under Maeda clan.

Today no building was left but structure of the castle remain on the hill which looked down on Nanao bay. Today castle site become a park and there is a memorial built by descendant of Cho clan. Apart from past tale of ghastly revenge in turbulent period, now castle quietly looks small port town.


20 minutes walk from Noto-Tetsudo Nanao-sen line Anamizu station. 15 minutes drive from Noetsu Jidoshado Expressway Anamizu interchange.

Related Castles

Nanao Castle –"Frost fills encampment and autumn air is purified"-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

Monday, October 1, 2018

Kajita Castle -Small but strong castle-

Kajita Castle

-Small but strong castle-



Name: Kajita castle (Kajita-jo)
Place: Kajita Tomika town, Gifu
Type: Mountain Castle
Built: 14th century
Remaining remnants: Stone wall, clay walls and moats 

Brief History

Kajita castle (加治田城) is built on the peak of Nashiwari-yama mountain, one of about 180 meter tall from hillside at the northeast edge of current Tomika town. As told in its name as divided pear mountain, the mountain has two line of ridge separated by valley, and Kajita castle is built at southern line of ridge which faces southward, the main body of Nobi plain.

Kajita castle stands between Tsubo-gawa river and Kawaura-gawa river, which are tributaries of Nagara-gawa river, and also close to Hida-gawa river. As Nagara-gawa river is a path to Gujo area and Hida-gawa river is a way to Hida province, Kajita castle is an important one to control both roads. Additionally, Kajita castle is only 5 kilometer apart from the border to Owari province (western part of Aichi prefecture), and if this castle kept by Owari province, communication between central part and east part of Mino province (Gifu prefecture) are easily shut at this point.

Origin of Kajita castle and Sato clan

Precise year is unknown but Kajita castle might be built in 14th century by local lord Sato clan. Sato clan was a descendant of Hidesato Fujiwara (?-?), a military noble of 10th century who subjugated Masakado Taira (?-940) who rebelled at Kanto region. Later descendants of Hidesato named Sato clan and spreads to many places, and one family lived at Fukushima prefecture and followed Yoshitsune Minamoto (1159-1189) became famous.

Sato clan also moved to the middle part of Mino province, and lived around current Seki city, Mino city and Tomika town. Especially the family lived at Nataoyama castle of Kozuchi area and another family at Kajita castle were major two families of the clan. Sato clan at Kajita castle gradually grew to major local lord in the middle part of Mino province.

In Muromachi era, the governor of the province was Toki clan but it significantly declined by internal conflicts. Replacingly, Saito clan which was the deputy governor of the province significantly grew under its leader Myochin Saito (1411-1480), but Saito clan also lost its power after the death of Myochin. Mino province was interfered by surrounding warlords such as Oda clan, Ashikaga clan or Rokkaku clan.

Follow to jumped-up governor

Under such situation, Dosan Saito (1494-1556), whose father was originally a merchant of Kyoto city but became the retainer of Nagai clan which was an important retainer of Saito clan, using plots and overtook Nagai clan and Saito clan by the middle of 16th century.

Finally Dosan expelled Yoriaki Toki (1502-1582), the last leader of Toki clan, and became the governor of Mino province. Dosan rejected the attack of Nobuhide Oda (1511-1552), the warlord of Owari province and father of Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), the allied with Nobuhide and fixed his power. At this time Sato clan belonged to Dosan and approved to hold their territory.

However, in 1555, Dosan and his eldest son Yoshitatsu Saito (1527-1561) became opponent for the succession. Yoshitatsu killed younger brothers who are planned to succeed the leader position, and Dosan already retired raised his army to defeat Yoshitatsu. But Dosan lost the support of major retainers and could gather small force.

Start of attack from Owari province

Dosan and Yoshitatsu fought at the side of Nagara-gawa river, and Yoshitatsu overwhelmed Dosan thus Dosan died in the battle. Nobunaga Oda who married with the daughter of Dosan sent army to rescue his father in law but could not stop it. Yoshitatsu seized Mino province, but Dosan left the will to Nobunaga to hand Mino province.

Yoshitatsu well organized retainers and reformed the governance, but unfortunately died in ill in 34 years old. His successor Tatsuoki Saito (1548-1573) was not so talented compared with his father or grandfather, and on the other hand Nobunaga survived fierce internal conflict and beat Yoshimoto Imagawa (1521-1560), a strong warlord of Suruga province (middle part of Shizuoka prefecture) at the battle of Okehazama.

Now Nobunaga who united Owari province started to capture Mino province based on the will of Dosan. At first Nobunaga attacked the province from westward, but faced strong resistance of Saito clan and failed. Thus Nobunaga adopted indirect approach to the middle part of Mino province, to separated Saito clan from north part and east part of the province.

Leave triangle treaty and turn to Oda clan

Expecting the invasion of Nobunaga, Nagai clan who was an important retainer of Tatsuoki made triangle treaty between Nagai clan, Kishi clan at Dobora castle and Sato clan of Kajita castle. However, Nobunaga contacted to Sato clan and Tadayoshi Sato (?-1578), the leader of Sato clan, decided to turn to Nobunaga.

In 1565, Nobunaga left their army and proceeded into middle part of Mino province. As agreed, Tadayoshi Sato turned to Nobunaga, thus Oda army attacked Dobora castle along with Sato army. Kishi army bravely fought, but as reinforcement army from Nagai clan was stroke back, Oda army overwhelmed Kishi army thus Kishi clan shared their fate with the castle.

However, looking at the invasion of Nobunaga, Tatsuoki Saito sent large army to assault returning Oda army. Nobunaga quickly return but sent his general Toshiharu Saito (1541-1582), who might be the youngest son of Dosan Saito, to Kajita castle. This time Sato army held 2,000 soldiers had to face Saito army and Nagai army held 4,000 soldiers. Looking at the difference of the soldiers, Tadayoshi Sato decided to besiege at Kajita castle.

Victory against Saito army

As Kajita castle is surrounded by rivers and narrow valley, Saito army had to spread their army along the river. At both of east and west of the castle there were fierce battle at the bridge of the river, but Sato army broke Saito army in spite of severe damage. Finally Sato army rejected the attack of Saito and Nagai army. 

As Nagai army suffered severe damage at this battle, Kajita army promptly attacked Seki castle which was the main base of Nagai army. Nagai clan could not keep Seki castle then left, thus middle part of Mino province was seized by Nobunaga at this time. This capture resulted in the isolation of Saito clan, and Inabayama castle (later Gifu castle) which was the main base of Saito clan fell just after two years from this.

The successor of Tadayoshi Sato died in the battle, thus Toshiharu Saito was adopted by Tadayoshi and became his successor. As an important castle which control the communication of Mino province, Kajita castle was treated an important castle along with neighbor Kaneyama castle (Gifu prefecture) of Mori clan. Toshiharu activated at many battles under Nobunaga, and Kajita castle might be expanded along with the promotion of Toshiharu.

Structure of Kajita castle

Core part of Kajita castle is small and simple. Central area is an oblong shaped one of about 40 meter long and 20 meter long, might have entrance on its east edge. This area might be surrounded by stone wall which slightly remain on south side, and there might be two or three story main tower on western edge/

East part from central area might be the front side of the castle, and there are several terraces built on sheer slope. There is a folded path and remnant of stone wall which might be reformed by Toshiharu Saito using the technology of castle building of Oda clan. East edge of the castle is protected by several vertical dry moats.

On the other hand, west part from central area is a combination of simple terraces and might be keep original style of the castle. Surrounding core part of the castle, front forts were built at surrounding peaks to protect mountain as a whole. Core part of the castle is small one of about 150 meter long and 30 meter wide, but considering front forts it becomes larger and secure one.

Sudden death of the lord

Toshiharu Saito well supported Nobunaga and his successor Nobutada Oda (1555-1582). As a flying column of Oda army, Toshiharu fought at every battles of Nobunaga, and became an important retainer of Nobutada who reigned Owari and Mino province in 1576.

In 1578, Toshiharu marched to Ecchu province (Toyama prefecture) through Hida province, and broke Nagachika Kawada (1543-1581), a good general of Uesugi army who reigned Ecchu province. Because of the lack of support Toshiharu retreated, but this damaged the authority of Uesugi army and supported advance of Katsuie Shibata (1521-1583) who faced Uesugi army at Kaga province (Ishikawa prefecture).

However, in 1582, Nobunaga Oda suddenly died in the incident of Honnoji, a coup d’?tat by his general Mitsuhide Akechi (1528-1582). Mitsuhide ruined Nobunaga next siege Nobutada stayed neighbor place, thus Nobutada killed himself and Toshiharu also died in the battle. Toshitaka Saito (?-?), elder brother of Toshiharu, succeeded Toshiharu and became next commander of Kajita castle.

Victory against "Demon Musashi" and afterward

However, at this time Nagayoshi Mori (1558-1584), the lord of neighbor Kaneyama castle (Gifu prefecture) and known his strength as “Demon Musashi”, barely returned from Shinano province then became conflict with neighbor loads. Nagayoshi attacked them aiming capture east part of Mino province, and at first Hida clan was expelled from his castle then Nagayoshi next sent his army to Kajita castle.

Nagayoshi stayed at former ruin of Dobora castle and siege Kajita castle. This time Toshitaka again utilized the river in front of the castle, and once fell into dangerous situation but being supported by brave fight of generals barely stood fierce attack of Mori army and finally rejected it. 

After the battle, Toshitaka became an important retainer of Nobutaka Oda (1558-1583), the third son of Nobunaga who became the commander of Gifu castle (Gifu prefecture). But looking at the conflict of Nobutaka and Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598), Toshitaka retired thus Kajita castle was seized by Nagayoshi. But Kajita castle was too close to Kaneyama castle thus Nagayoshi abolished Kajita castle.

After the disappear of the castle, castle town prospered as a posting town of Hida Kaido road toward Hida province. Now Tokai Kanjo Jidoshado penetrates castle mountain connecting Tokai-Hokuriku Jidoshado toward Gujo area and Route 41 toward Takayama area, and this clearly shows geographic importance of the castle. Sheer slope of mountain makes good scenery of Nobi plain, and also gave courage to the lord to face against overwhelming enemy.


45 minutes walk from Nagaragawa Tetsudo line Tomika station. 20 minutes drive from Tokai-Kanjo Jidoshado Expressway Tomika-Seki interchange or Mino-Kamo interchange to the entrance of climbing road at Shimizu-Dera temple. 30 minutes walk to castle site.

Related Castles

Kaneyama Castle -Rowdy young lord of Sengoku era-

Pictures (click to enlarge)