Saturday, March 22, 2014

Kuno castle -First master of future ruler-

Kuno Castle

-First master of future ruler-



Name: Kuno castle (Kuno-jo)
Place: Washizu Fukuroi city, Shizuoka
Location: 34.76617884597447, 137.92925345361553
Type: Hill castle
Built: Originally 15th century, expanded in 16th century
Remaining remnants: Clay walls and dry moats

Brief History

Kuno castle (久野城) is located at the hill in the north part of Fukuroi city. The place is just the north of Tomei Highway and sign board of the castle is seen from the road. Even if it is a small castle, surrounded by marsh it was a secure castle. To make sure, see this link to see Kunozan castle, which is famous for beautiful shrine buildings.

Kuno castle was originally built by Kuno clan, a local lord around 1500. At first Kuno clan served to Imagawa clan, a house of governor of Suruga province (middle part of Shizuoka prefecture), but after the fall of Imagawa clan they worked for Tokugawa clan, and moved to Kanto region with them in 1590. After Kuno clan, Yukitsuna Matsushita (1537-1598) was appointed as a commander of Kuno castle by central ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598). Yukitsuna was formerly a retainer of Imagawa clan, and is known by hiring Hideyoshi short time when Hideyoshi was young.

First master of future ruler

Hideyoshi was born in Nakamura village (Nagoya city) of Owari country (western part of Aichi prefecture). His father Yaemon was thought as a low class pheasant or soldier, but anyway died when Hideyoshi was young. Not getting along with his stepfather Chikuami, Hideyoshi ran away from his house and wondered countries.

It is said that Hideyoshi was hired by Sadatsuna who served as a commander of Zudaji castle (Hamamatsu city) and workds as underling, but had to leave because of false accusations from his colleagues jealousing his talent and hard work. After the fall of Imagawa clan, Yukitsuna was hired by Hideyoshi and finally promoted to a lord.

The truth or falsehood of above story in unclear, but based on the fact Yukitsuna was promoted by Hideyoshi as a lord in spite of lacking notable achievement, there supposed to be some old relationship between them.

Reform and abolish of Kuno castle

The shape of the hill where Kuno castle locates is a triangle of 150 meter length faces toward south. Originally areas such as central area, secondary area and watching area on the hill might be built under Kuno clan, as these areas are small and not so well shaped.

Yukitsuna transformed Kuno castle into a modern one matching for the residence of feudal lord. Outer areas such as eastern area, southern area or western area were built surrounding the hill, and water moats guarded whole direction of these outer areas. Main entrance consist of folding path and guarding turret were built at the east of the castle, and combination of rough hilltop area and wide outer area has sufficient dignity even though without stone walls. 

After the death of Hideyoshi, Matsushita clan supported next ruler Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616) and once survived under Edo Shogunate. But Matsushita clan was finally expelled due to reform of the castle without notice. After Matsushita clan, Kuno clan returned from Kanto region and became the lord, but Kuno clan also lost their territory due to their problem. 

Finally Ujishige Hoj
o (1595-1658), a hereditary retainer of Edo Shogunate who succeeded the sir name of Hojyo clan which was formerly the ruler of Kanto region. But Ujishige promoted and moved to Sekiyado castle (Chiba prefecture), and along this movement Kuno castle was abolished. The terrain including outer areas of the castle has been well preserved, and now the investigation and repair of the site is proceeding.

Related Castles

Sekiyado Castle -Castle coexisted with large rivers-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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