Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Moto-Yoita Castle -Irreconciable conflict after god of war (2) supporters of Kagekatsu Uesugi-

Moto-Yoita Castle

-Irreconciable conflict after god of war (2) supporters of Kagekatsu Uesugi-



Name: Moto-Yoita castle (Moto-Yoita jo)
Place: Moto-Yoita, Nagaoka city, Niigata
Location: 37.551249956606384, 138.80440665041723
Type: Hill Castle
Built: Unknown
Remaining remnants: Clay walls and dry moats 

Brief History

Continued from Part 1

Moto-Yoita castle (本与板城) is located over the hill of about 90 meter height from hillside at the northwest of Yoita town, in the west part of current Nagaoka city. Yoita area is the point where Shinano-gawa river flows northward turns eastward facing Kubiki-Kyuryo hills. Narrow flat area between the hill and river was suitable for hilltop castle and river side town as a point of river transportation.

Formerly Shinano-gawa river did not flow directly to the Sea of Japan by sub-channel, and vast marsh area spread all around current Niigata city area. Yoita area was a communication point of water transportation of Shinano-gawa river and marsh area of Niigata area with coast area of Joetsu area such as Kashiwazaki area or Naoetsu area.

Origin of Moto-Yoita castle

Precise year is unknown but Moto-Yoita castle might be built by local lord Iinuma clan. The history of Iinuma clan is also unknown but is said to be an important retainer of Uesugi clan, the governor of Echigo province (Niigata prefecture). Iinuma clan had a wide territory around Nagaoka area, and this shows the importance of Yoita area as a forefront castle toward east side of Shinano-gawa river.

In 1507, Tamekage Nagao (1486-1543), the father of Kenshin Uesugi (1530-1578), raised his army against Fusayoshi Uesugi (1474-1507), the governor of Echigo province. Tamekage lost his father Yoshikage Nagao (1464-1506) due to the order of Fusayoshi to support Jinbo clan of Ecchi province. 

Tamekage assaulted Fusayoshi at Joetsu city thus Fusayoshi tried to escape to the main family of Yamanouchi Uesugi clan at Kanto region. But Tamekage chased Fusayoshi at Nomine castle (Niigata prefecture) on the way from Joetsu city to Mikuni Toge pass, then Fusayoshi finally killed himself.

Change from Iinuma clan to Naoe clan

Two years later in 1509 Akisada Uesugi (1454-1510), the elder brother of Fusayoshi and who was at Kanto Kanrei, marched to Echigo province to make revenge of this brother. Tamekage once escaped to Sado island, but next year returned to the mainland and finally broke Akisada Uesugi at the battle of Nagamorihara and killed in the battlefield.

Among this battle, Iinuma clan might fought for Uesugi clan from its position. After the cease of the battle Iinuma clan was ruined by Tamekage Nagao, and Tamekage placed Naoe clan which was originally the retainer of Iinuma clan but supported Tamekage as the commander of Moto-Yoita castle.

Sanetsuna Naoe (1509?-1577) was the leader of Naoe clan at the middle of 16th century. Tamekage Nagao retired in 1536 and left the position to his eldest son Harukage Nagao (1509-1553), but Harukage could not control local lords well and raise of local lords occurred for the acceptance of adopted son for Uesugi clan from Date clan.

Appearance of Kenshin Uesugi

Harukage Nagao sent his younger brother Kagetora Nagao (before rename to Kenshin Uesugi) to suppress rebels. Kenshin skillfully broke the enemy at the battle of Tochio castle (Niigata prefecture) as his first battle, and next ruined other rebellious lords such as Kuroda clan at Kurotaki castle (Niigata prefecture). As Tochio castle or Kurotaki castle were close to Yoita area, Sanetsuna had relationship with Kenshin.

In 1547, major local lords of Echigo province planned to place Kenshin Uesugi as the governor replacing to Harukage. Under coordination of Sadazane Uesugi (?-1550), the nominal governor of the province, Harukage adopted Kenshin and retired then Kenshin became new governor of the province. At this incident Sanetsuna Naoe strongly supported Kenshin Uesugi.

Under the governance of Kenshin Uesugi, Sanetsuna Naoe served to Kenshin both for the magistrate and close guard. In peaceful time Sanetsuna served administration and communication with the Imperial Household or Muromachi Shoghnate, utilizing his knowledge on culture.

On the other hand, Sanetsuna had a large troop and served as one of seven troops named “Nanate-Gumi”, the direct command army of Kenshin. At the battle of Kawanakajima, Sanetsuna participated in supply troop but broke the unit of Yoshinobu Takeda (1538-1567), the successor of Shingen Takeda (1521-1573), and served as the rearguard of retreating Uesugi army.

As Kenshin resided his main base Kasugayama castle (Niigata prefecture) at western edge of province, Sanetsuna served as the representative of Kenshin and watched local lords of whole province. Echigo province (Niigata prefecture) has “T” letter shape and Yoita castle existed at the merging point of two lines and suitable for this mission.

Structure of Moto-Yoita castle

Moto-Yoita castle consists of core part on the hill and front fort at small peak of eastward. Central area of the castle is a trapezoid one of about 50 meter long and 30 meter wide, which has thick clay wall at eastside. Opposite of deep and wide dry moat, secondary area which is same size exists, and ahead of secondary area third area of about 40 meter long square places.

The castle has a typical structure of old style castles of Echigo province, which divided the ridge into several spaces by huge dry moats and form the line of core areas, and build small terraces at both slopes like a shell of turtle. The backside of the castle at westward is separated from back side mountain by the layer of two large dry moats.

At the south of central area, there is a south fort of 50 meter long and 20 meter wide at small peak ahead of saddle point. Front fort at east side of the castle has numerous small terraces over the slope, and residence of Naoe clan might exist between two projections of the hill at eastward. 

Total size of the castle is about 500 meter long and 300 meter wide, and not so different from Yoita castle (Niigata prefecture) later replaced Moto-Yoita castle. This size of Moto-Yoita castle shows the wealth of Naoe clan obtained from river and land transportation, and expectation of Kenshin Uesugi as an anchor of Uesugi clan into the middle part of the province.

Occurrence of internal conflict

Sanetsuna Naoe well worked for Kenshin throughout his life and died in ill in 1577, on e year earlier than Kenshin. As Sanetsuna only had daughter named Sen (1557-1637), thus her husband Nobutsuna Naoe (?-1581) who was originally the person of Soja Nagao clan, the distant relative of Kenshin Uesugi, succeeded Naoe clan.

At the “Otate-no-Ran”, the internal conflict between Kagekatsu Uesugi (1556-1623) and Kagetora Uesugi (1554-1579) after the death of Kenshin Uesugi, Nobutsuna Naoe belonged to Kagekatsu Uesugi and besieged at Kasugayama castle along with Kagekatsu. As opponent of Shinano-gawa river belonged to Kagetora Moto-Yoita castle was attacked but remaining soldiers protected it.

At the internal conflict, Kagetatsu Uesugi was no need to say supported by its parental home Ueda Nagao clan. As Kagekatsu succeeded the administrative structure of Kenshin, close retainers such as Naoe clan, Saito clan which was the commander of Akada castle (Niigata prefecture), or generals of direct troop such as Yoshie clan or Yamayoshi clan chose Kagekatsu Uesugi.

Beside, two other adopted son of Kenshin it mean Masashige Jojo (1553-1643) and Kunikiyo Yamaura (1546-1592) who were not the participant of internal conflict supported Kagekatsu Uesugi, thus it seems Uesugi clan itself supported Kagekatsu Uesugi who was the relative, not Kagetora Uesugi who was born at external Hojo clan.

Distribution of Kagekatsu side local lords

For local lords, in addition to the lords of Joetsu area where Kasugayama castle locates and regarded as the part of Uesugi clan, major local lords of Kaetsu area such as Irobe clan of Hirabayashi castle (Niigata prefecture), Honjo clan of Murakami castle (Niigata prefecture) or Shibata clan of Shibata castle (Niigata prefecture) belonged to Kagekatsu.

As local lords of Kaetsu area faced external powers such as Ashina clan of Kurokawa castle (Fukushima prefecture) at Aizu basin or Date clan of Yonezawa castle (Fukushima prefecture) at Yonezawa basin which formerly tried to intrude into Echigo province, they would choose Kagekatsu Uesugi born at the province, not Kagetora who was came from external power.

On the other hand, local lords of Nagaoka area and Kariwa area who formerly supported the succession of Kenshin Uesugi opposed to Kagekatsu Uesugi, Kagekatsu Uesugi held three edge of “T” letter but center point of the latter was seized by the opponent, then communication between three territories were seriously obstructed.

Furthermore, ahead of the three edges of “T” letters, external powers such as Takeda clan, Hojo clan or Ashina clan existed connecting to Kagetora Uesugi. For Kagekatsu Uesugi, it was necessary to build connection between three territories internally, and prevent intrusion of warlords connecting to Kagetora Uesugi externally.

Afterward of castle

Kagekatsu Uesugi and Nobutsuna Naoe won the internal conflict in 1579, but Nobutsuna was assassinated in 1581 for the trouble of the reward for the internal conflict. Kagekatsu let his close retainer Yoroku Higuchi (1560-1620) let marry with remaining Osen and succeed Naoe clan, then Yoroku renamed to Kanetsugu Naoe.

Kanetsugu Naoe became the chancellor of Kagekatsu Uesugi and controlled both of administration and military affairs, like Sanetsuna Naoe for Kenshin. Kanetsugu Naoe built Yoita castle about 1 kilometer southward from Moto-Yoita castle, but two castle stand at north and south edge of Yoita town thus cooperatively used until the move of Uesugi clan to Aizu basin in 1590.

Now no building remains but structure of the castle well remain on the mountain, even though covered by heavy bush. Not so prominent but solid structure of the castle is like the image of Nobutsuna Naoe steadily supported Kenshin Uesugi, compared to the image of Yoita castle and Kanetsugu Naoe famous for their existence.

Continue to Part 3


30 minutes drive from Hokuriku Jidoshado Expressway Nakanoshima-Mitsuke interchange to parking space at the entrance of castle.

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Pictures (click to enlarge)

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