Monday, August 3, 2020

Uri Castle -Long journey to Pax Tokugawana (5) temporal unite of Mikawa province-

Uri Castle

-Long journey to Pax Tokugawana (5) temporal unite of Mikawa province-



Name: Uri castle (Uri-jo)
Place: Naka-Uri Shinshiro city, Aichi
Location: 34.86732885943563, 137.53225150760795
Type: Mountain Castle
Built: 15th century?
Remaining remnants: Stone walls, clay walls and dry moats 

Brief History

Continued from Part 4

Uri castle (宇利城) is built over Shiroyama mountain, one of about 100 meter height from hillside in the southeast part of current Shinshiro city. From northward to westward of Lake Hamanako, line of Yumihari mountains spreads in a curve over 30 kilometer and forms the border of Mikawa province (east part of Aichi prefecture) and Totomi province (west part of Shizuoka prefecture).

There are five passes across Yumihari mountains, and Uri-toge pass, Binwari-toge pass and Jinza-toge pass, three of five passes stands at the north of Lake Hamanako in 5 kilometer distance. Especially Uri-toge pass is the lowest height of only 154 meter and narrow height, thus even now Tomei Expressway underpasses the path by Uri tunnel. Uri castle stands at the entrance of the valley toward these three passes thus it was an important place to control the border.

Origin of Kumagai clan and Uri castle

Precise year is unknown but Uri castle might be built by local lord Kumagai clan in 15th century. Kumagai clan was a descendant of Naozane Kumagai (1141-1207), who was famous for the tale in “Heike Monogatari” stating that at the battle of Ichinotani Naozane had a single combat with Atsumori Taira (1169-1184), only 17 years old enemy general. Naozane killed Atsumori but felt strongly impermanence of the world thus entered Buddhist way leaving the world of Samurai.

Descendants of Kumagai clan spreads over the nation and prospered at Aki province (Hiroshima prefecture) or Mutsu province (Miyagi prefecture), and a branch family of Kumagai clan contributed to the establishment of Muromachi Shogunate then achieved Uri area as a territory. In the latter half of 15th century Kumagai family moved to Uri area and became local lord, then built Uri castle as their main base.

As the government of Mikawa province was distant at Okazaki area, east edge of Mikawa province was strongly affected by Totomi province. Originally the governor of Totomi province was Shiba clan, but Imagawa clan which was the governor of Suruga province (middle part of Shizuoka prefecture) expanded into Totomi province in the latter of 15th century.

Effect of Imagawa clan to Mikawa province

Losing its leader Yoshitada Imagawa (1436-1476) at the battle of Shiokaizaka, his son Ujichika Imagawa (1471-1526) advanced into western edge of Totomi province by the end of 15th century, under the support of guest general Sozui Ise (1456-1519, famous as Soun Hojo). Kumagai clan belonged to Imagawa clan at that time.

In 1506, Imagawa army lead by Sozui Ise further intruded into Okazaki area at western part of Mikawa province. Imagawa army broke Iwatsu Matsudaira clan, the main family of Matsudaira clan at Iwatsu castle (Aichi prefecture), but facing counter attack of its branch family Anjo Matsudaira clan at Anjo castle (Aichi prefecture) finally retreated.

From 1510’s to 1520’s, Imagawa clan finally rejected the attack of Shiba clan which tried to recover Totomi province, and built a stable dominance to the province. But at the same time conflict between Imagawa clan and Takeda clan, the warlord of Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture) arouse and Imagawa clan concentrated on the conflict with Takeda clan.

Rise of young leader of Matsudaira clan

During this period, in the west half of Mikawa province, Kiyoyasu Matsudaira (1511-1535) who succeeded Matsudaira clan in 1523 only 13 years old, aggressively expanded his territory. In 1526, Kiyoyasu Matsudaira fell Yamanaka castle (Aichi prefecture) held by Saigo clan, and then achieved Okazaki castle (Aichi prefecture)  which was the main base of Saigo clan by their surrender.

Kiyoyasu Matsudaira decided Okazaki castle as the main base of Matsudaira clan, and established castle town for the purpose of economic income. Being supported by its army and economic resource, Matsudaira clan suppressed surrounding local lords and united west half of Mikawa province by 1529.

Upon the unite of west half of Mikawa province, Kiyoyasu made blitz tactics to the east half of the province. At that point east half of the province were separately managed by local lords such as Makino clan at Imahashi castle (Aichi prefecture, later Yoshida castle), Toda clan at Tahara caslte (Aichi prefecture), or Yamaga Sanposhu which was the group of small local lords spreads around Shinshiro area.

Blitz attack of Kiyoyasu Matsudaira to east part of province

At first Kiyoyasu attacked Imahashi castle of Makino clan at current Toyohashi area. Toyohashi area is important flat area of Mikawa province along with Okazaki area, and also the center of marine transportation at Mikawa bay. It was also a entrance of Mikawa province from Totomi province, the source of support from Imagawa clan.

At that time Imagawa clan was at the transition from Ujichika Imagawa (1523-1526) to Ujiteru Imagawa (1513-1536) and could not provide support to Makino clan at distant area. Kiyoyasu broke the army of Makino clan at field battle and generals of Makino clan died in the battle, then assaulted Imahashi castle and quickly fell it.

Kiyoyasu seized Imahashi castle turned his army to Tahara castle at Atsumi peninsula. Toda clan could not resist against overwhelming army of Kiyoyasu by themselves and surrendered, then Kiyoyasu suppressed remaining small lords of the province to subordinate. Responding to this, small lords such as Suganuma clan or Okuyama clan belonged to Kiyoyasu, but Kumagai clan still stood against Kiyoyasu relied on Uri castle.

Structure of Uri castle

Core part of Uri castle consists of two terraces, it means central area at the west and Hime area at the east. Both areas are about 40 meter long and 20 meter wide, and two areas area separated by dry moat used as corridor. Central area is surrounded by clay wall which has remnant of low height stone wall, often seen in castles under the management of Imagawa clan.

Southward of core area is a front side of the castle, and layers of terraces are built along with three ridges. Southeastern ridge is most carefully constructed with deep dry moat and combined gate, and this area might be the main gate of the castle even though current walkway directly climbs central ridge without passing southeastern ridge.

North side of the mountain is a backward of the castle connected to next mountains, and separated by combination of dry moat and buffer area. But there was only 20 meter height difference from the peak and saddle point, and only 50 meter length of the point, this was the clear weak point of the castle actually targeted by the enemy. Total size of the castle is about 300 meter long and 100 meter wide, and relatively large castle of the area.

Fall of Uri castle and temporal unite of province

In 1530, Kiyoyasu Matsudaira made fierce attack to Uri castle. Before desperate counter attack of the castle, Chikamori Matsudaira (?-1530?), the uncle of Kiyoyasu who attacked main gate of Uri castle, died in the battle. On the other hand, Kiyoyasu coordinated Iwase clan who was the retainer of Kumagai clan in advance, then Iwase clan set fire the castle then finally Uri castle fell.

By falling Uri castle, Kiyoyasu Matsudaira could unite Mikawa province, even though local lords at east half of the province nominally belonged to Matsudaira clan. It easily collapsed by too early death of Kiyoyasu in 1535, but this fact and memory later supported his grandson Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616) who tried to unite the province again 30 years later.

After the decline of Matsudaira clan subsequent to the death of Kiyoyasu Matsudaira, Imagawa clan which stabilized its backward by triangle treaty with Hojo clan and Takeda clan again ascended to Mikawa province. Imagawa clan captured Uri castle again and placed their retainer Kondo clan as the commander of the castle.

Afterward of castle

As a result of the battle of Okehazama in 1560, Imagawa clan declined and Ieyasu Tokugawa became an independent warlord of Mikawa province. In 1568, Ieyasu Tokugawa who united the province ascended into Totomi province, and Kondo clan which held the main territory at Inasa area of Totomi province subordinated to Tokugawa clan.

Around 1570, Ieyasu Tokugawa was attacked by Shingen Takeda (1521-1573), the warlord of Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture), and Shingen intruded into the border of Mikawa province and Totomi province. Uri castle was attacked by Takeda army but Kondo clan might keep Uri castle and there was no record of fall. After the decline of Takeda clan next to the battle of Nagashino in 1575, Uri castle might be abolished.

Today no building remains but structure of the castle well remain on the mountain. The mountain itself is not so high but slope of upper area of quadratic curved mountain and structures with sheer cliff seems powerful. Location of the castle at Mikawa province and structure affected by Imagawa clan shows complex and long relationship of Matsudaira clan and Imagawa clan over 50 years.


30 minutes drive Shin-Tomei Expressway Shinshiro interchange to parking at Nakauri intersection. 30 minutes walk from parking to hilltop castle.

Related Castles


Pictures (click to enlarge)

No comments:

Post a Comment