Sunday, June 14, 2020

Katakura Castle -Same plan and structural progress (2)-

Katakura Castle

-Same plan and structural progress (2)-



Name: Katakura castle (Katakura-jo)
Place: Katakura-cho Hachioji city, Tokyo
Type: Hill Castle
Built: 15th century?
Remaining remnants: Clay wall and dry moats 

Brief History

Katakura castle (片倉城) is built at the edge of peninsular like plateau which is formed by erosion of Tama-Kyuryo hills by Yudono-gawa river and Hyoe-gawa river, at 2 kilometer south of current Hachioji city central. Tama Kyuryo hill is a long one spreads over 30 kilometer from the side of Takao mountain to the north part of Kawasaki city, between Tama-gawa river and Sagami-gawa river.

Castle site is a passing point of Tama-Kyuryo hill due to low height and narrow width. Geographically this point is a linear line connects Sagami plain such as Kamakura area or Odawara area to middle part of Kanto plain like Kawagoe area. It is an important point of communication historically Kamakura Kaido road passed, and even now Route 16, the outer rim of Tokyo metropolitan area, runs aside of the castle.

Origin of Katakura castle

The origin of Katakura castle is unknown but in 11th century Hachioji area was held by Yokoyama-to, a group of local samurais, and considering the location that can control two rivers there might be some fort in early era. Yokoyama-to group contributed to the establishment of Kamakura Shogunate but fell after the battle of Wada Gassen in 1213.

After the fall of Yokoyama-to, their territory was given to Hiromoto Oe (1148-1225), the highest administrative staff of Kamakura Shogunate and the ancestor of Mouri clan which became the large feudal lord of Chugoku region. Later Nagai clan, the descendant of Hiromoto Oe, became a local lord of this area and might hold Katakura castle.

In the latter half of 15th century, Kanto region experienced long turbulence from endless battle between Kamakura Kubo Highness and its chancellor Kanto Kanrei kept by Uesugi clan, and succeeding internal conflict of Uesugi clan between its main family Yamanouchi Uesugi clan and branch family Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan.

During endless battle of Kanto region

Same as Oishi clan, which was a neighbor strong local lord of Takiyama castle (Tokyo metropolis), Nagai clan might belong to Kanto Kanrei at first conflict and Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan at second battle. At last Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan followed to Yamanouchi Uesugi clan in 1505, but utilizing long battle of two clans Soun Hojo (1456-1519) rose as emerging power of Kanto region.

Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan had the territory of current Tokyo metropolis and Kanagawa prefecture, but gradually loss its territory from westward by Hojo clan, which entered into Kanto region from Izu peninsula. In 1495 Soun Hojo captured Odawara castle (Kanagawa prefecture), and after fierce battle ruined Miura clan, an important retainer of Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan at Miura peninsula in 1516.

In 1524, Hojo clan captured Edo castle (Tokyo metropolis), an important castle of Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan at the eastern edge of its territory. In response to this, Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan built horizontal defense line along with Tama-gawa river, including Jindaiji castle (Tokyo metropolis) at the middle and Katakura castle at upstream.

Capture by Hojo clan

However, Hojo clan directly marched to Kawagoe castle (Saitama prefecture), remaining main base of Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan and fell it in 1537. Being forced by corner, Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan allied with other ancient regimes of Kanto region such as Yamanouchi Uesugi clan or Koga Kubo Highness, but suffered fatal defeat at the night battle of Kawagoe castle (Saitama prefecture) in 1545 and disappeared from history.

During this process, Nagai clan might fall along with their master. On the other hand. Oishi clan barely survived but was suppressed by Hojo clan then followed and adopted Ujiteru Hojo (1542-1590) as their successor. Oishi clan became an important component of Hojo clan also held former territory of Nagai clan.

Different from Jindaiji castle abolished after the battle, Katakura castle might be kept to guard connecting road from Odawara castle, the main base of Hojo clan, to their major branch castles such as Takiyama castle of Oishi clan or Hachigata castle (Saitama prefecture) of Fujita clan, former important retainer of Yamanouchi Uesugi clan and also accepted Ujikuni Hojo (1548-1597) as a successor.

Structure of Katakura castle

Katakura castle consists of central area at the edge of the plateau and secondary area outside of central area. Central area is a roughly square shaped one of 50 meter long, which has a basement turret of at northwestern corner same as Jindaiji castle. But different from Jindaiji castle this basement prolongs at the side of the bridge from secondary area and enabled side attack to this bridge.

Backside of central area is surrounded by corridor area currently used as ground of a shrine. Westward of central area is separated from secondary area by 10 meter width dry moat. Secondary area of the castle is about 100 meter long and 60 meter wide oblong shaped one at the west of central area. 

Secondary area has a line of large clay wall utilizing undulation and dry moat at western line, to separate from root of plateau. Both edges of the plateau which are weak point of defense line are protected by inner turret at north edge and outer fort at south edge. This outer fort also guarded entrance route to main gate, at the middle of south line formed by narrow road between two dry moats.

Among battle between Hojo clan and Takeda clan

In 1568, Hojo clan broke with its ally Shingen Takeda (1521-1573), the warlord of Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture), due to the invasion of Shingen to Imagawa clan, the governor of Suruga province (middle part of Shizuoka prefecture) breaking triangle treaty between three clans.

As Hachioji area was next to the territory of Takeda clan, the tension of this area significantly rose. Being obstructed its military operation at Suruga province by Hojo clan, next year Shingen invaded the territory Hojo clan. Its main army lead by Shingen passed Usui Toge pass, then attacked Hachigata castle and Takiyama castle.

Ujiteru Hojo barely kept Takiyama castle, then Shingen turned its army to Odawara castle passing Katakura castle and went down along with Sagami-gawa river. In response to this, Hojo clan besieged at Odawara castle and tried to Takeda army from backside by the troop of Ujiteru Hojo and Ujikuni Hojo. Both troop gathered at Katakura castle and chased Takeda army from backward.

Fail of pincer attack to Takeda army

Shingen noticed this plan made only small attack to Odawara castle then retreated to Kai province along with Nakatsu-gawa river. Hojo clan tried to made pincer attack by the army of Ujiteru Hojo and Ujikuni Hojo from northward and main army of Odawara castle from southward, but both army could not cope.

To avoid pincer attack, Shingen intentionally stayed lower place and showed weakness to the army of Ujiteru Hojo and Ujikuni Hojo already arrived at Mimase-Toge pass. Hojo army attacked Takeda army and Takeda army lost its commander Nobutane Asari (?-1569). But detached troop of Takeda army appeared at backward of Hojo army at higher place, then Hojo army became confused and collapsed.

By the collapse of the army of Ujiteru Hojo and Ujikuni Hojo, Shingen could leave the battlefield, only several hours before arrival of main army of Hojo clan. In 1571 Hojo clan and Shingen Takeda allied again but broke with Katsuyori Takeda (1546-1582), the successor of Shingen in 1578. 

Afterward of castle

Preparing for Takeda clan, Ujiteru Hojo moved his main base from Takiyama castle to Hachioji castle (Tokyo metropolis), which was at the next of the border. The route between Odawara castle and Hachioji castle moved westward, and the importance of Katakura castle decreased but still worked as a branch castle. Finally along with the ruin of Hojo clan in 1590 Katakura castle was abolished.

Today structure of the castle well remains on the plateau, even though next to residential area. Compared with Jindaiji castle, clearer intention of moving line and introduction of securer defense facilities show progress of castle construction under Hojo clan during 30 years. 

On the other hand, no use of the latest technology of Hojo clan at this castle shows limited importance of this castle only as a connecting point, along with no clear record of castle. Today Castle site becomes Katakura Joseki Koen park filled with colorful flowers, and the difference of two castles disappeared like the period prior to the use of Hojo clan.


15 minutes walk from JR East Yokohama-sen line Katakura station. 30 minutes drive from Chuo Jidoshado Expressway Hachioji interchange to hillside parking of castle park.

Related Castles

Jindaiji Castle -Same plan and structural progress (1)-
Takiyama Castle -Expansion and limitations of hill castle-
Kawagoe Castle -Place of great leap of Hojo clan-
Hachioji Castle -Place of final battle for unification by Hideyoshi-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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