Thursday, October 15, 2020

Futago Castle -Desperate resistance against unfair destiny-

Futago Castle

-Desperate resistance against unfair destiny-

Futago Castle


Name: Futago Castle (Futago-jo)
Alias: Tobuse-jo (Tobuse castle)
Place: Futagocho Kitakami city, Iwate
Type: Mountain Castle
Built: 15th century?
Remaining remnants: Gate (moved), clay walls and dry moats 

Brief History

Futago castle (二子城) is located over the edge of river plateau of Kitakami-gawa river at 5 kilometer north of current Kitakami city central. There are two hills which are the origin of the name Futago (twins), and triangle flat space surrounded by east hill, Kitakami-gawa river and edge of the river terraces were used as the residential area of the castle.

Kitakami area is a vast flat area of 10 kilometer long square surrounded by Kitakami-gawa river, Toyosawa-gawa river, Waga-gawa river and Ou mountains. Not so developed before modern era, but today utilizing its flat ground and a junction of north and southward road from Sendai to Aomori and east and westward road from Akita to Kamaishi, Kitakami area has developed by agriculture and manufacturing industries.

Origin of Waga clan

Precise year is unknown but Futago castle might be built by local lord Waga clan in 15th century. The origin of Waga clan is also not clear, and is recorded as the distant descendant of Yoritomo Minamoto (1147-1199), the founder of Kamakura Shogunate, or a descendant of Nakajo clan at current Hachioji area of Tokyo metropolis.

Anyway Kamakura Shogunate which ruined Oshu Fujiwara clan that held whole part of Kitakami basin in 1189 placed its retainers around former territory of Oshu Fujiwara clan, such as Nanbu clan at Sannohe area, Hienuki clan at Hanamaki area, Kasai clan at Ishinomaki area. At this time Waga clan was appointed as the magistrate of Waga area.

At first the main family of Waga clan resided at Iwasaki castle (Iwate prefecture) of Kuroiwa area at 3 kilometer southeast from Futago castle opposite of Kitakami-gawa river, and a major branch family lived at Saraki castle (Iwate prefecture) of Saraki area at 2 kilometer eastward from Futago castle also opposite of Kitakami-gawa river. 

After the fall of Kamakura Shogunate in 1333, the conflict between Muromachi Shogunate and the South Court occurred throughout Japan by the end of 14th century. The main family at Iwasaki castle belonged to Muromachi Shogunate, and branch family at Saraki castle which might have Futago area supported the South Court.

Build of Futago castle

At first the South Court was supreme at Tohoku region, but after the loss of its regional commander Akiie Kitabatake (1318-1338) the situation had turned. Muromachi Shogunate seized Tohoku region in the latter half of 14th century, then the branch family of Waga clan at Saraki castle declined then the main family seized whole part of the territory of Waga clan.

However, at the south edge of the territory, there were strong branch families or retainers such as Oniyanagi clan, Susumago clan or Kurosawajiri clan, and the main family of Waga clan could not control such major retainers. In 1401, Oniyanagi clan was approved as the main family of Waga clan by Muromachi Shogunate and succeeded Waga clan.

But facing this succession of Waga clan, other major retainers such as Susumago clan or Kurosawajiri clan did not approve it and raised their army in 1435. Rebel army was assisted by Hienuki clan which was the lord of Hanamaki castle (Iwate prefecture) at Hanamaki area, and surrounding warlords sent reinforcement army to the main family of Waga clan under the order of Shogunate.

After one year battle, the rebel was suppressed then the situation of Waga clan had stabilized. But considering the succession of Waga clan from branch family and conflict after that, Waga clan needed new main base to change the atmosphere of the clan and protect themselves. Waga clan built Futago castle as their new main base at the opposite of Kitakami-gawa river, where it is suitable to manage the whole part of the territory.

Structure of Futago castle

The main part of Futago castle spread over Hachimanyama hill, the east one of two hills that is about 300 meter long and 100 meter wide. At the top of the hill there is a large flat space of about 120 meter long and 20 meter wide which might have hilltop residence, and two attached area at the north and south edge of the hill.

At the western line of hilltop area, line of dry moat prolongs whole part of westward of Hachimanyama hill. This line of dry moat spreads northward and southward to the edge of the castle ahead of the hill over 500 meter, which formed the western border of the castle. Eastward of hilltop area is layer of corridor areas exist toward hillside.

At the eastward of the Hachimanyama hill, there were residences of Waga clan and high class retainers. The residence of Waga clan might exist at the ground where Shirotori Shrine exists, that is about 100 meter long square and separated by dry moat. At the south of Shirotori area there is same size square area and might be used by relative of Waga clan.

At the north west of these areas, along with Kitakami-gawa river, there are large size areas separated by dry moat to Kaga-yakata area which is at the north edge of triangle shaped castle. At the southwest of these areas, there is a straight road spreads toward the edge of the plateau having houses at its both side, where might be the residential area of retainers.

At the west of Hachimanyama-hill, there is a corned shape hill used by Akiba Shrine, which might be used as the front side fort of the castle. Total size of the castle is about 800 meter long and 500 meter wide, and it is suitable for the main base of Waga clan. At the east of the edge of the plateau there was a water moat, and ahead of it there was a castle town along with the road still remains as a village.

Sudden end forced by Toyotomi government

In 16th century Waga clan established its sovereign at Kitakami area, but was included into the restless conflict with surrounding warlords. Especially Nanbu clan which was originally the local lord at the border of current Iwate prefecture and Aomori prefecture expanded southward since the beginning of 16th century, and Waga clan had to fight with Nanbu army.

Waga clan barely kept its territory from Nanbu clan, but in 1590 central ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598) ruined Hojo clan which was the large warlord of Kanto region at Odawara campaign. Hideyoshi Toyotomi ordered warlords of Tohoku region to participate in the campaign, and major warlords such as Nanbu clan, Date clan or Mogami clan followed this order.

However, majority of small warlords including Waga clan did not visit the headquarter of Hideyoshi Toyotomi. After the cease of the campaign, Hideyoshi ordered to confiscate the territory of local lords who did not visit the headquarter including Waga clan. Waga clan was expelled from Futago castle, and the territory of Waga clan was directly managed by Toyotomi government.

Desperate resistance against unfair destiny

But this policy of Toyotomi government which ruined the local lords only by not visiting his headquarter without exception raised antipathy in the area along with strict policy of land certification. After the return of Toyotomi army, former retainers of ruined local lords such as Osaki clan or Kasai clan rose at each area and expelled the magistrate of Toyotomi government.

Yoshitada Waga (?-1591), the leader of Waga clan, rose against Toyotomi army along with Hirotada Hienuki (?-1591) who was the warlord of Hanamaki area but also lost its territory by Toyotomi government. Rebel army assaulted Futago castle held by the retainer of Asano clan who was the magistrate of Toyotomi government and recovered it.

Next the rebel army attacked Toyagasaki castle (Iwate prefecture, later Hanamaki castle) which was the main base of Hienuki clan. The guardians of Toyagasaki castle was far smaller than the rebel army but Toyagasaki castle well stood against the rebel army. Nanbu clan that followed to Toyotomi government sent reinforcement army and rescued the retainers of Asano clan, but due to heavy snow once retreated then rebel army also captured Toyagasaki castle.

Suppression of resistance by central government

But in June of 1591, Toyotomi army sent large army to ruin the rebel of Kasai clan and Osaki clan, Waga clan and Hienuki clan, and Masazane Kunohe (1536-1591) who was a major relative of Nanbu clan but was not approved as the lord then rebelled against Nanbu clan. To protect the authority of central government, Hideyoshi planned to slaughter the rebels.

Toyotomi government army crushed of Kasai clan and Osaki clan in one month, the next suppressed the rebel of Waga clan and Hienuki clan. Waga clan and Hienuki clan resisted against this overwhelming army but was broken, then Yoshitada Waga escaped from Futago castle but was killed by local resident on the escape.

Tadachika Waga (1576-1601), the son of Yoshitada Waga, escaped to the territory of Masamune Date (1567-1636) who became the feudal lord of Sendai area under Toyotomi government. Masamune succeeded the former territory of Kasai clan at the south of Kitakami area still had an ambition to expand its territory toward north, then kept Waga clan for the plot.

Afterward of castle

After the cease of the rebel, former territories of Waga clan and Hienuki clan were given to Nanbu clan. Nanbu clan mainly used Toyagasaki castle and renamed it to Hanamaki castle, but still kept Futago castle for a while. But in 1592, Futago castle was abolished along with other surplus castles throughout the territory of Nanbu clan. The main gate of Futago castle was moved to Hanamaki castle and still remains now.

Today no building except for moved main gate remains, but structure of hilltop castle and former residence of Waga clan remains at the hill and plateau. Castle site is a calm area where Kitakami-gawa river slowly flows, and Waga clan might hope to continue as a lord of this peaceful area long time. But it was hit sudden storm of Toyotomi government and unfairly ruined, like a flood of the river.


30 minutes drive from Tohoku Expressway Kitakami-Eduriko interchange to parking of Hachimanyama hill. 

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Pictures (click to enlarge)

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