Thursday, July 16, 2020

Katsuura Castle - History of peninsular brave (3) Ally or subordinate?-

Katsuura Castle

-History of peninsular brave (3) Ally or subordinate?-



Name: Katsuura castle (Katsuura-jo)
Place: Hama-Katsuura Katsuura city, Chiba
Location: 35.13523113044908, 140.31093243629005
Type: Hill Castle
Built: 15th century?
Remaining remnants: Clay walls

Brief History

Continued from Part 2

Katsuura castle (勝浦城) exists at the tip of Cape Hachiman-misaki, one of about 300 meter long cape at the east end of Katsuura bay. The cape prolongs to the sea then has spectacular scenery of curved beach of Katsuura bay at westward and wide range view of Pacific Ocean ahead of rocky cliff at eastward. This point also is a famous view spot of sunrise on New Year’s Day along with Cape Choshi.

Katsuura city has Katsuura port, a core fishery port of outer rim of Bosho peninsula. Along with sufficient water depth and Cape Hachiman-misaki as a natural breakwater toward Pacific Ocean, Katsuura area is at the end of linear road from inner area of Tokyo Bay to Pacific Ocean now remains as Route 297. Because of these conditions and warm climate, Katsuura area becomes a casual resort for metropolitan residents.

Origin of Katsuura castle

The origin of Katsuura castle is not clear but it is said to be built by Prince Okiyo, one of the leader of the revolt of Masakado Taida (?-940) against central government of Kyoto city. It is not clear if this story is true or not, but considering its location suitable for guarding the port and watching the sea there might be some fort from early time.

In the beginning of 16th century, Mariyatsu Takeda clan which was the lord of Mariyatsu castle (Chiba prefecture) captured major part of Kazusa province (upper half of Boso peninsula) , under the name of Oyumi Kubo Highness, the younger brother of Koga Kubo Highness. 

Under its leader Jokan Mariyatsu (?-1534), Mariyatsu Takeda clan once seized west coast and middle part of upper Boso peninsula, having many branch castles such as Shiizu castle, Sanuki castle, Tsukuroumi castle, Otaki castle, Mangi castle or Kururi castle. At first Satomi clan and Mariyatsu Takeda clan allied.

Use by Mariyatsu Takeda clan

However, facing the internal conflict of Satomi clan between original main family including Yoshitoyo Satomi (?-1534) and its branch family such as Sanetaka Satomi (1484?-1533) and his son Yoshitaka Satomi (1507-1574?), Yoshitaka Satomi won the conflict under the support of Hojo clan, the warlord of Sagami province (Kanagawa prefecture), and the enemy of Mariyatsu Takeda clan.

Mariyatsu Takeda clan could not save Yoshitoyo Satomi, and the relationship of Mariyatsu Takeda clan and Satomi clan broke. Furthermore, at this timing Jokan Mariyatsu died then Mariyatsu Takeda clan fell into internal conflict. Under such condition, Katsuura castle might be renovated by Mariyatsu Takeda clan to stop the move of Satomi army at the border of the province.

Once Oyumi Kibo Highness. Mariyatsu Takeda clan and Yoshitaka Satomi gathered to compete with Hojo clan. But in 1538, this alliance suffered fatal defeat before Hojo army in the first battle of Konodai, and Oyumi Kubo Highness himself died in the battle. Hojo clan changed the leader of Mariyatsu Takeda clan to their supporter, and Satomi army expected the loss in battle already left the battlefield without serious damage.

Origin of Masaki clan

Satomi army returned to their territory started to invade the territory of Mariyatsu Takeda clan now became their enemy. Owing to the brave fight of their vanguard Tokishige Masaki (1513-1561), Satomi army captured several castles at the border area in short time, and finally captured Otaki castle (Chiba prefecture), the core castle in the east part of Kazusa province in 1544. 

Masaki clan is said as a descendant of Miura clan, a traditional samurai spreads over current Miura peninsula on the opposite of Uraga Suido straight. Miura clan was once the strongest retainer of Kamakura Shogunate but was ruined by the battle of Hoya in 1247. But some of branch families continued as the local lord of the peninsula, and spread to Boso peninsula across Uraga Suido straight.

Due to the geographic condition of their territory, Miura clan was good at naval skill. Later main family of Miura clan was attacked by Hojo clan, Miura clan besieged their main base Miura castle and stood for three years based on the supply from sea. As Satomi clan was a land clan, they might seek assistance of Miura clan to enter Boso peninsula.

Core part of Satomi army

At first Masaki clan spreads inner coast of the peninsula around the border of Awa province and Kazusa province, such as Tsukuoumi castle (Chiba prefecture) or Katsuyama castle (Chiba prefecture). On the internal conflict of Satomi clan between Yoshitoyo Satomi and Sanetaka Satomi, the leader of Masaki clan was assassinated with Sanetaka Satomi by Yoshitoyo Satomi at Inamura castle (Chiba prefecture).

But Yoshitaka Satomi, the son of Sanetaka Satomi and husband of the female of Masaki clan, defeated Yoshitoyo Satomi at the battle of Inukake in 1534 under the support from Hojo clan. Soon Yoshitoyo Satomi broke with Hojo clan and started to intrude northward into the territory of Mariyatsu Takeda clan.

As old retainers of Satomi clan such as Anzai clan or Kiso clan supported Yoshitoyo Satomi and fell, Masaki army became the core of new Satomi army. Yoshitaka ordered Tokishige Masaki (1513-1561) who was famous as “Yari Daizen” (spear Daizen) and his younger brother Tokimasa Masaki (1521-1576) to lead this operation. 

Growth and separation of Masaki clan

Tokishige Masaki made brave battles and captured castles of Mariyatsu Takeda clan, and in 1544 Tokishige fell Otaki castle (Chiba prefecture), the core castle in the east part of Kazusa province ruining the lord of Mariyatsu Takeda clan. At this time Masaki army fell Katsuura castle, then Tokishige placed Tokimasa Masaki as the lord of Katsuura castle.

Otaki Masaki clan lead by Tokishige Masaki managed land army of Masaki clan with vast territory, and Katsuura Masaki clan lead by Tokimasa Masaki had small territory but held strong navy being supported by economic activities at Katsuura port. Now Masaki clan had one land army and two navies at both side of the peninsula, and became the core part of Satomi army both in name and reality.

Due to the closeness of the power between Masaki clan and Satomi clan, it is not clear if Masaki clan was a subordinate or just an ally of Satomi clan. This was same for people at that time, and Soteki Asakura (1477-1555), a talented general of Asakura clan, reported Tokishige Masaki as the lord could use retainers well, along with famous warlords such as Motonari Mouri (1497-1571), Nagayoshi Miyoshi (1522-1564) or Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582).

Tokitada Masaki supported the army of Tokishige Masaki by transportation of supplies or direct reinforcement of its army. Tokitada also organized naval clans at that area into Satomi navy. Satomi navy often attacked the town of Hojo territory such as Kamakura city or Misaki city from the sea, and this attack might be lead by Masaki navy. Under Masaki clan, Katsuura castle might be expanded into large one.

Structure of Katsuura castle

Core part of Katsuura castle exists at the tip of Hachiman-Misaki cape. Inner area now used as a park might be the central area of the castle which might be used for commanding and watching place, and next small peak used as the ground of the shrine might be secondary area. Higher area now penetrated by tunnel might be the third area, which protect the entrance from outside.

At the north of core area, the castle spread over 500 meter northward toward the edge of the plateau. As current fishery port area might be the military port area of the castle, terraces were built over curved plateau encircling eastward of the port, to prevent intrusion of enemy soldier into the fishery area. 

Furthermore, castle structure might spread over two ridges prolongs northeastward to the end of each ridges. On the small valley between two ridges there might be castle town. The structure of the castle shows intention to protect the port area by line resembles Shimoda castle (Shizuoka prefecture), the most sophisticated medieval marine castle of Hojo clan.

Troubled relationship with Satomi clan

Although being connected by marriage, the strong force and subtle situation of Masaki clan was a good target for their enemy Hojo clan. In 1564, Katsuura Masaki clan left Satomi clan and belonged to Hojo clan, but because of remote place Hojo clan could not support well then later came back to Satomi clan.

On the other hand, Otaki Masaki clan which lost the leader Nobushige Masaki (?-1564) at the second battle of Konodai also rebelled to Satomi clan in 1581. Saromi clan once ruined Masaki clan but needed the fame of Masaki clan to seize Kazusa province, they sent their relative as the successor of Masaki clan.

Around this time power difference between Hojo clan and Satomi clan became significant, thus Satomi clan itself had to subordinate to Hojo clan. Due to this subordination the border became stabilized, but at the campaign of central ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598) toward Hojo clan in 1590, Satomi clan and Masaki clan were involved in the campaign as the enemy.

Afterward of Masaki clan and Katsuura castle

In 1590, Katsuura Castle was attacked by Tadakatsu Honda (1548-1610), the bravest general of Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616) who belonged to Hideyoshi Toyotomi. There is a tale that Lady Oman (1577-1653), the daughter of the lord, climbed down the 40 meter tall cliff of the castle holding white cloth to the sea and escaped from burning castle.

Lady Oman later became a concubine of Ieyasu Tokugawa, and became the mother of Yorinobu Tokugawa (1602-1671), the lord of Wakayama domain, and Yorifusa Tokugawa (1603-1661), the lord of Mito domain, the two of three special relative domains of Edo Shogunate. Eight of fifteen Shogun of Edo Shogunate were descendants of Lady Oman, thus Masaki clan made significant footprint in the history of Japan.

Now core area of Katsuura castle is used as Hachiman-Misaki Koen park, and covered with colorful tropical flowers. Spectacular view of Pacific Ocean from the park shows this was exactly a sea castle which was the base of Masaki navy. And largeness of this castle expresses the history of Masaki clan which was strong and therefore became the target of plot from Hojo clan.

Continue to Part 4


60 minutes drive from Keno-do Expressway Ichihara Tsurumai interchange to parking of Hachiman-Misaki park via Route 297.

Related Castles

Inamura Castle -History of peninsular brave (2) Coup d'etat erased from history-
Tsukuroumi Castle -History of peninsular brave (4) sea port of active Satomi navy-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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