Sunday, August 23, 2020

Nomine Castle -Irreconciable conflict after god of war (4) reversi game-

Nomine Castle

-Irreconciable conflict after god of war (4) reversi game-


Name: Nomine castle (Nomine-jo)
Place: Bogane Yasuzuka-ku Joetsu city, Niigata
Type: Mountain Castle
Built: 13th century
Remaining remnants: Clay walls and moats 

Brief History

Continued from Part 3

Nomine castle (直峰城) is placed over Shiroyama mountain, one of about 280 meter height from hillside between Hosono-gawa river and Oguro-gawa river at the east edge of current Joetsu city. Shiroyama mountain is separated by saddle point named “Jo-no-Koshi” from backside mountain, and now Route 403 runs through this bottleneck.

Between Joetsu city and Tokamachi city Higashi Kubiki Kyuryo hills spreads over 30 kilometer. Now Route 253 and Route 403 cross hilly area east and westward, complexly winding to trace the valley as long as possible. In the past Matsunoyama Kaido Road also crossed hilly area, but it took linear route tracing the ridge and directly crossed the hills at the north of current Route 403.

Contrary to modern road which is planned to east gradient for cars, the first priority of ancient road was to shorten the distance even though climbing slopes. Furthermore, this area is a one of heavy snowfall, and considering snow and avalanche ridge line is safer compared with valley line. Due to these reasons, Matsunoyama Kaido Road traced ridge line except for the cross point of the river.

Origin of Nomine castle

Precise year is unknown but Nomine castle might be built by the end of 13th century. It is said that Nomine castle was used as a main base of Nobuaki Kazama (?-1354?), a local lord belonged to the South Coat army at the conflict between Muromachi Shogunate and South Court.

The origin of Kazama clan is said to be the priest of Kazama Shrine at Nagano city, originally came from Suwa Shrine of Shinano province (Nagano prefecture). Kazama clan moved to Echigo province in the end of Kamakura era, and at first lived at Muraoka castle (Niigata prefecture) faces the Sea of Japan.

At the conflict between Muromachi Shogunate and South Court, Echigo province was a major base of South Court army as relative of Yoshisada Nitta (1301-1338), the commander of South Court army, had territories at the province. Nobuaki Kazama belonged to the South Court army and fought at various battles.

In 1338, Yoshisada Nitta died in the battle at Echizen province (Fukui prefecture), and the pressure of Muromachi Shogunate increased. Nobumasa Kazama moved his main base from Muraoka castle to Nomine castle in mountain area and continued resistance against North Court army.

Communication route to Kanto region

Nagayori Kazama (?-?), son of Nobuaki Kazama, turned to Muromachi Shogunate and attacked Norimasa Uesugi (?-1366), son of Noriaki Uesugi (1306-1368) who was the governor of Echigo province but was once dismissed and raised at Kenpoji castle (Niigata prefecture). However, Norimasa Uesugi returned to the governor of Echigo province, and Kazama clan was expelled then Nomine castle was managed by Uesugi clan.

In 1507, Fusayoshi Uesugi (1474-1504) who was the governor of the province and faced the rebel of deputy governor Tamekage Nagao (1486-1543) visited at Nomine castle on the way of escape from Joetsu city to Kanto region, but was chased by the army of Tamekage and finally killed himself at Amamizu-Goe pass at the border to Shinano province (Nagano prefecture).

At the time of Kenshin Uesugi (1530-1578), son of Tamekage Nagao, Matsunoyama Kaido road was used as military road for expedition to Kanto region across Mikuni-Toge pass. Nomine castle was 25 kilometer apart from Kasugayama castle, the main base of Kenshin, thus used as a camping point of first day of expedition. Nomine castle might be expanded to accommodate generals and soldiers of Uesugi army.

Structure of Nomine castle

Nomine castle spreads over the peak and ridges of the mountain. Central area of the castle is a triangle shaped one of about 60 meter long and 30 meter width, having two gates at north and south. Ahead of north gate, secondary area and third area both are about 40 meter long continues eastward to the end of the peak.

At the north and west of third area, narrow ridges are separated by combination of dry moats but western one is not accessible covered by bush. At the south of third area, sheer slope is processed to layers of small terraces where climbing road from halfway space comes up. Flat space between two ridges used as parking might have some building.

At the south of central area, relatively large areas of 50 meter long having the name of Nobuaki Kazama and its retainer continues along the climbing road from hilltop to halfway space. Main gate of hilltop area exists at the end of these terraces, and main route from entrance comes up along with the ridge to this point. Total size of the castle is about 600 meter long and 500 meter wide, and large one at this area.

Reversi game at internal conflict

After the death of Kenshin Uesugi in March 1578, internal conflict of two adopted sons Kagekatsu Uesugi (1556-1623) and Kagetora Uesugi (1554-1579) started. Both parties continues negotiation and gathering supporters for three month, but in May Kagetora Uesugi moved from Kasugayama castle to Otate castle (Niigata prefecture) and actual battle had began.

In the Echigo province has a form of “T” letter, Kagekatsu Uesugi had three edges of the latter it mean Kasugayama area, Uonuma area and Kaetsu area, but Nagaoka area and Kariwa area at the center of T letter was seized by Kagetora Uesugi. Besides, Kagetora Uesugi was at Otate castle and was surrounded by Kagetora Uesugi.

As both parties were obstructed to contact with the territory of their supporter, it was necessary to break encircling net and build a line to supporters like reversi game. Kagekatsu Uesugi needed the line to his native place Uonuma area, and Kagetora required transportation of supply from lords of center of province.

Attempts to open route

At first Kagetora gathered the troop of major local lords such as Kagenobu Uesugi (?-?) who was the lord of Suyoshi castle (Niigata prefecture) or Hidetsuna Honjo (?-?) who was the lord of Tochio castle (Niigata prefecture). Considering limited supply, Kagetora directly attacked Kagekatsu Uesugi at Kasugayama castle. 

But attack to secure Kasugayama castle failed then Kagetora suffered loss of commanders and soldiers. Kagetora changed his tactics to besiege at Otate castle waiting for the reinforcement of external powers such as Hojo clan or Takeda clan. Kagekatsu barely kept his encirclement to Kagetora Uesugi at Otate castle.

Reversely, Kagekatsu Uesugi tried to open route to Uonuma area by attacking castles belonged to Kagetora Uesugi such as Saruge castle (Niigata prefecture) of Kakizaki clan, Hatamochi castle at the coast of Kashiwazaki city and Nomine castle. Kageaki Nagao (?-?), the commander of Nomine castle supported Kagetora Uesugi.

As Kageie Kakizaki (?-1578), the leader of Kakizaki clan who supported Kagetora Uesugi was assassinated by opponent retainers, Saruge castle opened to Kagekatsu in the beginning of June. At the same time Kagekatsu made total attack to Otate castle, then killed Kagenobu Uesugi, the main force of Kagetora army. Kageaki Nagao who was the lord of Nomine castle also died in the battle then Nomine castle lost the commander also opened.

Now Kagekatsu Uesugi could open communication route to his supporters at Uomuna area, or west part of Nagaoka area such as Saito clan at Akada castle (Niigata prefecture) or Naoe clan at Moto-Yoita castle (Niigata prefecture). Domestically Kagekatsu Uesugi became superior to Kagetora Uesugi, but had to face with superior external powers such as Hojo clan or Takeda clan which supported Kagetora.

Afterward of castle

During the internal conflict, Nomine castle securely protected Matsunoyama Kaido road for Kagekatsu Uesugi along with Inubuse castle (Niigata prefecture) at the east. After the cease of internal conflict, Kagekatsu Uesugi who won the conflict placed Kanetoyo Higushi (?-1602), the father of Kanetsugu Naoe (1560-1620) who became the chancellor of Uesugi clan under Kagekatsu Uesugi, as the commander of Nomine castle.

In 1598, Kagekatsu Uesugi moved to Aizu region then Hori clan became the next lord of Echigo province. Hori clan placed their retainer Mitsuchika Hori (?-?) at Nomine castle, but in 1610 Hori clan lost Echigo province due to internal conflict and Nomine castle was abolished at that time.

Today no building remains but structure of the castle well remain on the mountain. Just below of the castle former road of Matsunoyama Kaido road still runs along with the ridge paved with stones. From castle site the scenery of Yasuzuka town is well seen, that might include the region of Kenshin Uesugi toward Kanto region or transport soldiers of Kagekatsu Uesugi coming and going through the road in the past.

Continue to Part 5


30 minutes drive from Hokuriku Jidoshado Expressway Joetsu interchange to halfway parking.

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Pictures (click to enlarge)

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