Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sakamoto Castle –Uprising from wanderer to regional commander-

Sakamoto Castle

-Uprising from wanderer to regional commander-



Name: Sakamoto castle (Sakamoto-jo)
Place: Shimo-Sakamoto Otsu city, Shiga
Type: Plain castle
Built: 1573
Remaining remnants: None

Brief History

Sakamoto castle is located at the southwestern shore of Lake Biwako, in Otsu city. Sakamoto area places at 10 kilometer northeast of Kyoto city, and is an entrance to Kyoto city from Hokuriku region through western coast of Lake Biwako. 

Sakamoto castle also prospered as an attached town of Hieizan Enryakuji temple and Hie Taisha, traditonal temple and town. Especially Hieizan Enryakuji temple was a traditional temple established by famous Buddhist Monk Saicho (767-822), as a main temple of Tendaishu school. Enryakuji Temple was adored by emperors and nobles of Kyoto city, and in medieval era they had many number of monk soldiers and exercised their power to the politics of central area.

Origin of Mitsuhide Akechi

Sakamoto castle was built by Mitsuhide Akechi (1528-1582), a commander of central ruler Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582) in 1573. The origin of Mitsuhide is unknown, but it is said that Mitsuhide was a person of Akechi clan, a local lord stem from Toki clan and resided at Akechi castle the middle part of Mino province (Gifu prefecture). Princess Noh, a formal wife of Nobunaga Oda, is also said as descendant of Akechi clan.

In 1556, Dosan Saito (1494-1556), former governor of Mino country and his son Yoshitatsu Saito (1527-1561), fought at the riverside of Nagaragawa river, and Dosan died in the battle. As Akechi clan supported Dosan, it is said that later Akechi clan was attacked by Yoshitatsu and ruined, then Mitsuhide left the castle and wandered to raise his clan again. Mitsuhide wandered many provinces, and studied wide range of skills such as politics, strategy, courtesy or matchlock gun firing.

In 1565, Yoshiteru Ashikaga (1536-1565), 13th Shogun of Muromachi Shogunate, was assaulted and killed by Hisahide Matsunaga (1510-1577) and Miyoshi clan which dominated Kinki region. Yoshiaki Ashikaga (1537-1597), younger brother of Yoshiteru and who became a monk, escaped assault of Hisahide under the support of Fujitaka Hosokawa (1534-1610), an important retainer of Shogunate. 

Yoshiaki and Fujitaka exiled to Yoshikage Asakura (1533-1573), a strong warlord of Echizen province (Fukui prefecture) and asked assistance to raise him as next Shogun. At this time Mitsuhide visited Asakura clan, and being evaluated for his knowledge Mitsuhide became to serve for Yoshiaki.

March of Nobunaga and Yoshiaki to Kyoto

Yoshikage carefully served Yoshiaki, but he did not have intention to march to central area. Gradually Yoshiaki became irritated, then seeked next supporter to become next Shogun. Just that time Nobunaga Oda who captured Inabayama castle (Gifu prefecture, later Gifu castle) and seized whole Mino province in 1566 emerged as a strong power which had the possiblity to reach to Kyoto city. Probably considering the origin of Mitsuhide, Yoshiaki sent Mitsuhide as a messenger to Nobunaga, to ask for assistance.

The interest of Yoshiaki and Nobunaga who seeked justification to march to Kyoto city agreed at this point. In 1567 Autumn, Nobunaga lead 30,000 soldiers and marched to Kyoto city, defeated Rokkaku clan which was the governor of southern part of Omi province (Shiga prefecture). 

At this time Hisahide Matsunaga and Miyoshi clan conflicted each other, and they could not stop the march of Nobunaga. Only with one month, Nobunaga entered to Kyoto city and also seized good part of Kinki region. Nobunaga placed Yoshiaki as the 15th Shogun of Muromachi Shogunate, and Mitsuhide became to serve to both Nobunaga and Yoshiaki as an administrative staff.

Anti Nobunaga encirclement

But the honeymoon period of Yoshiaki and Nobunaga did not last long. Nobunaga tried to limit the power of Yoshiaki, and Yoshiaki strongly repelled to this action. Within one year from inauguration, Yoshiaki became hostile to Nobunaga and Yoshiaki made plot to organize anti Nobunaga alliance with Asakura clan or Honganji temple.

In 1570, Nobunaga raised his army to subjugate Yoshikage Asakura and marched to Echizen province. Nobunaga advanced to Echizen country and captured Tsuruga area, but this time Nagamasa Azai (1545-1573), a younger brother in law of Nobunaga but subordinate to Asakura clan, left Nobunaga and tried to shut the backward of Nobunaga. 

Nobunaga who feared encirclement quickly retreated leaving Hideyoshi Kinoshita (1537-1598, later Hideyoshi Toyotomi) as a rear guard. Hideyoshi stood the attack from Asakura clan and finally returned to Kyoto city, and this battle is said as “Withdrawal of Kanegasaki”.

But tough situation of Nobunaga further continued. In 1569, when Nobunaga attacked Miyoshi clan at Kawachi province (south part of Osaka prefecture), suddenly Ikko Ikki party at Ishiyama Honganji temple raised their army agaisnt Nobunaga. Nobunaga barely left the battlefield, but being surrounded by Asakura and Azai army besieged at Enryakuji temple and Honganji temple, Nobunaga was in a corner. After losing his brothers and generals such as Nobuoki Oda (?-1570) or Yoshinari Mori (1523-1570), Nobunaga temporally disadvantage agreement with Asakura and Azai clan and left the crisis.

Burning of Hieizan Enryakuji temple

Because of above reason, Nobunaga was furious against Hieizan Enryakuji temple. Nobunaga asked Enryakuji temple to keep neutral as a religious organization, but they supported Asakura and Asai clan and hostiled to Nobunaga. Furthermore, part of priests and monk soldiers lived depraved life, but their act were violation to the doctrine of Buddhism. 

In 1571, Nobunaga decided to destroy Hieizan Enryakuji temple and encircled it by thousands of army. Oda army burnt down all buildings except for one small temple at the most inner part. It is said that thousand of people were killed at the temple, and Enryakuji once ended their history. 

This act of Nobunaga was strictly accused by contemporary people, but on the other hand thought as necessary action to reform the religion. Mitsuhide worked this assault as a main force, and was given Sakamoto area after the incident and promoted to one of the highest commander of Nobunaga.

In 1572 Autumn, in response to request from Yoshiaki, Shingen Takeda (1521-1573) who was the warlord of Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture) raised his army against Oda clan. Shingen defeated Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), an ally of Nobunaga, at the battle of Mikatagahara, but in early 1573 Shingen became in ill and died on the way to Kyoto city, then Takeda army returned to the nation. 

Despairing Yoshiaki raised army by his own and besieged at Makishima castle, but being surrounded by huge Oda army the left the castle and escaped. Due to this action, Muromashi Shogunate virtually fell. This time Mitsuhide recruited Fujitaka Hosokawa to Oda side.

Build of Sakamoto castle and excursion to Tanba province

In 1573, once situation stabilized, Mitsuhide newly built Sakamoto castle as his residence. Sakamoto castle existed along the lake coast, and total side might be 400 meter long and 200 meter wide. Central area protruded into the lake was guarded by stone walls, and there was a splendid main tower. According the record of Luis Frois (1532-1597), a missionary of Catholic lived in Japan, Sakamoto castle was a brilliant castle next to Azuchi castle, the castle of Nobunaga.

From 1575, Mitsuhide started his campaign against Tanba province (western part of Kyoto prefecture). At first Mitsuhide smoothly entered into Tanba province in cooperation of large local clan such as Hatano clan and sieged Kuroi castle, a castle located deep inside of Tanba province held by Akai clan. But due to the betrayal of local lords such as Hatano clan at backside, Mitsuhide army collapsed and run away from Tanba province. 

Mitsuhide who returned to his territory prepared his army again and started next operation in 1577. This time Mitsuhide gradually beat local lords from Kyoto side, and steadily spread his area. Next year Mitsuhide encircled Yagami castle and Kuroi castle, two large castles of Tanba province and cut the supply line of food. Finally in the middle of 1578, Mitsuhide fell Yagami castle and Kuroi castle, then completed his campaign to Tanba province. 

Mitsuhide newly built Tanba Kamenaya castle at Kameoka area, the nearest area to Kyoto city and used it as his residence. Mitsuhide also placed his relative and important retainers to branch castles, such as Hidemitsu Akechi (1536-1582) at Fukuchiyama Castle, Mitsutada Akechi (?-1582) at Yagami castle, and Toshizo Saito (1534-1582) at Kuroi castle. But Mitsuhide still kept Sakamoto castle by the incident of Honnoji, and his wife and son stayed at this castle.

Afterward of Sakamoto castle

In 1582, Mitsuhide made a coup d'etat against Nobunaga who stayed at Honnoji temjle of Kyoto city and killed him. Mitsuhide temporally held hegemony, but soon was defeated by Hideyoshi Hashiba (1537-1598, later Hideyoshi Toyotomi), another regional commander of Nobunaga quickly returned to Kyoto area at the battle of Yamazaki and was killed by local peasant at the south of current Fushimi area during his escape to Sakamoto castle. 

At that time Sakamoto Castle was kept by HIdemitsu Akechi, and Hidemitsu was just to leave to Yamazaki as a reinforcement. But hearing the defeat and death of Mitsuhide, Hidemitsu returned Sakamoto castle leaving the chase of Hashiba army. It is said that at this time Hidemitsu crossed the shallow area of lake Biwako only by himself riding horse. Hidemitsu handed over the treasure of Akechi clan to Toyotomi army, then killed relative of Mitsuhide and finally suicide.

After the battle, Toyotomi generals used Sakamoto castle for a while. But in 1586, new ruler Hideyoshi decided to build Otsu castle more close to Kyoto city, thus Sakamoto castle was abolished and stones and materials were transferred to Otsu castle. Now almost no ruin remains, but a base of stone wall still remains in the ocean and is seen at dry season. Beside, a gate of the castle is used at a outer gate of Syoju-Raikoji temple near the castle. Empty scenery of the site conversely attract our imagination of former shape of splendid castle and reason of coup d'etat.

Continue to Tanba Kameyama castle

Related Castles

Tanba Kameyama Castle -Reason of rebellion-
Fukuchiyama Castle -Castle protected critical location to Kyoto-
Yagami Castle -Resistance and death of Hatano clan-
Omizo Castle -Father and son purged by plot of rebellion-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

No comments:

Post a Comment