Sunday, May 17, 2020

Moriyama Castle (Ecchu) -Fateful confrontation of former colleagues (4) afterward of confrontation-

Moriyama Castle (Ecchu)

-Fateful confrontation of former colleagues (4) afterward of confrontation-



Name: Moriyama castle (Moriyama-jo)
Place: Higashi-Ebizaka Takaoka city, Toyama
Type: Mountain Castle
Built: 14th century?
Remaining remnants: Stone walls, clay walls and moats 

Brief History

Continued from Part 3

Moriyama castle (守山城) is built over the peak of Shiroyama mountain, one of 250 meter height from hillside which is a part of Futagamisan mountain, an eye catching one at the mouth of Oyabe-gawa river and faces Toyama-wan bay. Moriyama castle is regarded as one of three mountain castles of Ecchu province (Toyama prefecture), along with Matsukura castle (Toyama prefecture) and Masuyama castle (Toyama prefecture).

Historically Fushiki area between Oyabe-gawa river and Futagamisan mountain had been the center of Ecchu province, and famous ancient poet Okura Yamanoue (?-785) who also served as the governor of Ecchu province recorded his poem referring the mountain. Furthermore, Hoshodu port at the opposite of Oyabe-gawa river and Sho-kawa river was one of the major commercial ports of the Sea of Japan in medieval era. Castle place had been the political and economic center of the province for long time.

Origin of Moriyama castle and Jinbo clan

Precise year is unknown but Moriyama castle might be built in 14th century, after the fall of Kamakura Shogunate. At that time Hokuriku region became the place of struggle between Muromachi Shogunate and the South Court, and it became necessary to protect province government office and Hoshodu port from enemy.

After the decline of the South Court, Ecchu province was given to Hatakeyama clan, one of the highest class retainers of Muromachi Shogunate. But like other major retainers Hatakeyama clan stayed at Kyoto city and managed neighbor territories, thus appointed Jinbo clan, Yusa clan and Shiina clan as deputy governors of the province. 

Among three clans, the position of Jinbo clan was highest by managing important place. Continuous internal conflicts of Hatakeyama clan affected the situation of Ecchu province, and in spite of temporary decline Jinbo clan gradually grew their power located at Moriyama castle.

Rise and fall of Jinbo clan

In 1493, Yoshiki Ashikaga (1466-1523), the 10th Shogun of Muromachi Shogunate but was expelled by a coup d’?tat by his retainer Masamoto Hosokawa (1466-1507), was rescued by Hatakeyama clan then moved to Hoshodu port relying on Jinbo clan. Yoshiki stayed Hoshodu port five years then moved to Asakura clan of Echizen province (Fukui prefecture).

But in the beginning of 16th century, Jinbo clan was suddenly exposed to the attack of Hatakeyama clan of Noto province (north part of Ishikawa prefecture) and Nagao clan which was deputy governor of Echigo province (Niigata prefecture). Once Jinbo clan rejected attack of two clans at Moriyama castle in 1519, but next year the leader of Jinbo clan died in the battle against Nagao clan.

However, Jinbo clan was restored by Nagamoto Jinbo (?-1572?) .Nagamoto expanded the territory of Jinbo clan eastward and captured current Toyama city area, then built Toyama castle as his new main base. But Moriyama castle and Masuyama castle were still the important bases of Jinbo clan.

Change of holders

Since 1560, Kenshin Uesugi (1530-1578), who was the leader of Nagao clan and praised as the god of the war, marched to Ecchu province and attacked Jinbo clan. Nagamoto Jinbo lost Toyama castle but kept resistance at Moriyama castle and Masuyama castle over 10 years. But finally the main family of Jinbo clan lost Masuyama castle and disappeared.

Instead of main family, Ujiharu Jinbo (1528-1592), a branch family of Jinbo clan, was appointed as the lord of Moriyama castle. After the death of Kenshin Uesugi, Ujiharu Jinbo turned to the army of central ruler Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582). When Narimasa Sassa (1536-1588) was appointed as the lord of Ecchu province, Ujiharu became the retainer of Narimasa.

As the castle site is a diverging point of Himi Kaido road toward Himi area and Nanao area from Hokurikudo Road which comes from Kanazawa area to Joetsu area, Uesugi clan and Sassa clan treated Moriyama castle as an important branch castle. Moriyama castle might be expanded and strengthened under these two clans.

Structure of Moriyama castle

Moriyama castle is built utilizing relatively flat shaped peak of Shiroyama mountain. Central area of the castle is a tadpole shape like area of triangle shaped head and narrow tale. At the backside of central area, there was a large flat area used for stable now used as a parking, and combination of dry moats built for backside mountains.

Around central area, layers of terraces were built digging slope. At final phase slope of central area is covered by stone walls, and remnant of the stone wall slightly remains in the bush. Secondary area and third area were built at south slope of central area.

Below of these core areas, along with the ridge prolongs westward, several large size terrace and surrounding corridor remains. Although they might be changed from cultivation, could be the residence of important retainers. Total length of the castle exceeds 500 meter and one of the largest mountain castles in the province.

Surrender of Narimasa Sassa to Hideyoshi Hashiba

After the death of Nobunaga Oda in the incident of Honnoji in 1582, during the conflict for successor Katsuie Shibata (1521-1583), the commander in Hokuriku region, was defeated by Hideyoshi Hashiba (1537-1598) at the battle of Shizugatake and died. Narimasa Sassa once followed Hideyoshi but raised in 1584 and attacked Suemori castle (Ishikawa prefecture) held by Toshiie Maeda (1539-1599) belonged to Hideyoshi in 1584.

At this battle Ujiharu Jinbo was ordered to obstruct rescue of Toshiie Maeda, but by skillful maneuver Toshiie could pass Jinbo army and entered into Suemori castle. Next Ujiharu attacked Ao castle turned to Maeda clan, but a rebellion occurred at Moriyama castle. Ujiharu barely suppressed this rebellion but could not move from the castle.

In the meantime, next year Hideyoshi Toyotomi lead overwhelming army to Ecchu province, and looking at inferior situation Narimasa voluntary surrendered to Hideyoshi. Narimasa lost west half of the province and fell into guest general of Hideyoshi, then Ujiharu also left Moriyama castle and followed Narimasa.

Afterward of Narimasa Sassa and Moriyama castle

Narimasa Sassa was brave general and also well organized local lords of Ecchu province in short period, thus Hideyoshi appointed Narimasa as the lord of newly concurred Higo province (Kumamoto prefecture) after his Kyushu campaign in 1587. But Narimasa’s hasty land survey brought the raise of local lords of the province such as Kumabe clan or Wani clan.

Ujiharu Jinbo well kept their main base Kumamoto castle (Kumamoto prefecture) before overwhelming rebellion army, and local lords were broken by reinforcement army from Hideyoshi in 1588. But Narimasa was blamed for his failure and forced to suicide. Ujiharu Jinbo once became unemployed but later became a small retainer of Edo Shogunate.

West half of Ecchu province was given to Toshiie Maeda, and Toshiie placed his successor Toshinaga Maeda (1562-1614) as the commander of Moriyama castle. In 1595 Maeda clan also received east half of the province, and after the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Maeda clan rebuilt Toyama castle as the center of Ecchu province. Moriyama castle might be abolished at this time.

Today due to the construction of the park most part of important structure was lost, but good scenery from the mountain certifies the existence of the castle along with slightly remaining remnants. The end of Moriyama castle also meant the turbulent medieval era of Ecchu province, occurred by internal and external participants such as Jinbo clan, Uesugi clan or Sassa clan.


30 minutes drive from Noetsu Jidoshado Expressway Takaoka-Kita interchange to hilltop parking through Futagamisan Manyo Line road.

Related Castles

Matsukura Castle (Ecchu) -Castle of definite defense line-
Masuyama Castle -Massive clay walls and dry moats on mountain-
Shiratori Castle (Ecchu) -Fateful confrontation of former colleagues (3) across heavy snowy Tateyama Mountains-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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