Saturday, March 22, 2014

Kokokuji Castle -Launch place of Hojo clan-

Kokokuji Castle

-Launch place of Hojo clan-



Name: Kokokuji castle (Kokokuji-jo)
Place: Negoya Numazu city, Shizuoka
Location: 35.14332593545117, 138.80153111507656
Type:  Hill castle
Built: 15th century, expanded in 17th century
Remaining remnants: Stone walls, clay walls and dry moats
Title: 100 more famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Kokokuji castle (興国寺城) is located on a ridge of Ashitaka mountain toward southward, at a west of central Numazu city. Utilizing the terrain this castle has several terraces along the edge, and had a tall basement of main tower with stone wall and deep moat. 

This castle was built by Imagawa clan, a house of governor of Suruga province (eastern part of Shizuoka prefecture) in 15th century. In 1487, Soun Hojo (1432-1519), original named as Nagauji Ise but renamed after his death, become a commander of this castle.

Formerly Soun Hojo is regarded as a person who promoted from masterless wanderer to the warlord only by his talent, along with Dosan Saito (1494-1556), the governor of Mino country (Gifu prefecture). But according to the resent research, this image was wrong.

Promotion of Souun at Imagawa clan

Ise clan, where Soun was born, was a house of administrative noble of Muromachi Shogunate located at Bicchu province (Okayama prefecture). Because his sister Kitagawa-dono married with Yoshitada Imagawa (1436-1476), current leader of Imagawa clan, Soun also move to Suruga province and served for Imagawa clan.

In 1476, Yoshitada Imagawa died among his battle against local lords of Totomi province (western part of Shizuoka prefecture) in 40 years old, and Ujichika Imagawa (1471-1526), his son between Yoshitada and Kitagawa-dono, and Norimitsu Ojika (?-1487), a powerful relative fought for the position of leader. 

Under the arbitration of Dokan Ohta (1432-1486), an excellent chancellor of Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan at Musashi country and known as building Edo castle originally, Norimitsu temporally succeeded leader position and transfer to Ujichika when Ujichika become 15 years old.

But after this condition fulfilled, Norimitsu did not carry out this agreement, thus Souun and his colleagues assaulted Norimitsu and killed him in 1487. Due to this achievement, Soun was appointed as a commander of Kokokuji castle by Ujichika who became the new Soun supported Ujichika and and fought for Imagawa clan in Totomi province or Mikawa province (eastern part of Aichi prefecture).

Occupation of Izu and independence

A turning point for Soun came in 1491. In Izu province, there was a Horikoshi Kubo (Horikoshi Highness), a branch house of Ashikaga clan. Masatomo Ashikaga (1435-1491), a founder of Horikoshi Kubo and brother of Yoshimasa Ashikaga, 8th shogun of Muromachi shogunate died in 1491. 

His sons named Chachamaru and Jundoji conflicted for the next leader, and Chachamaru killed Jundoji and succeeded the position forcibly but brought dissatisfaction of retainers. At the same time, in Kyoto, Yoshitame Ashikaga (1466-1523, 10th shogun) and Yoshizumi Ashikaga (1481-1511) also fought for the next shogun, and Yoshizumi Ashikaga was a younger brother of Jundoji.

Masamoto Hosokawa (1466-1507), a powerful lord in Kyoto area and who made Yoshizumi as shogun in 1493, ordered Soun to extinguish Chachamaru together with his action. Based on this order, in the same year, Soun attacked Chachamaru and expelled him, then seized Izu province in several years. This accident was a beginning of Sengoku era in Kanto region, and also was a first step of Hojo clan as a warlord which expanded to whole Kanto region.

Afterward of the castle

When Souun moved to Nirayama castle at Izu province Kokokuji castle was returned to Imagawa clan, and after the fall of Imagawa clan, along with other castles in Suruga country this castle was governed by Takeda clan or Tokugawa clan. 

After the battle of Sekigahara in 1600 this castle was held by Yasukage Amano (1537-1613), an old retainer of Tokugawa clan, but he was expelled taking responsibility of dispute between people in his territory and government territory, and Kokokuji castle was abolished at that time. The site of castle well holds former shape, and repairment is proceeding.  


30 minutes walk from JR Central Tokaido-Honsen line Hara station. 15 minutes drive from Shin-Tomei Expressway Surugawan-Numazu smart interchange to parking at castle site.

Related Castles

Nirayama Castle -History of Hojo clan for 100 years of five generations-
Odawara Castle -Castle rejected attack of two famous warlords-


Pictures (click to enlarge)

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