Monday, March 10, 2014

Yuzuki Castle - Glory of ancestor-

Yuzuki Castle

-Glory of ancestor-



Name: Yuzuki castle (Yuzuki-jo/Yuduki-jo)
Place: Dogo-Koen Matsuyama city, Ehime
Location: 33.84881765973586, 132.78642669600586
Type: Hill castle
Built: 14th century
Remaining remnants: Clay walls and moats
Title: 100 famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Yuzuki castle (湯築城) is placed at the hill in Dogo erea, a suburban area of Matsuyama city. Dogo area is famous for traditional Dogo spa, and the castle locates just beside the spa town. Yuzuki castle had been a residence of Kono clan, a famous local lord and house of the governor of Iyo country (Ehime prefecture).

Rise of Kono clan

The origin of Kono clan is traced to 12th century. Michinobu Kono (1156-1222). the leader of Kono clan at that time, supported Yoritomo Minamoto (1147-1199), the first shogun of Kamakura Shogunate. As Setonaikai sea was the base of Taira clan, which was the rival of Yoritomo and had a strong naval force, and Kono clan had to make hard fights.  But finally Yoritomo defeated Taira clan at the battle of Dannounra in 1185 and extinguished them. Due to his achievement Michinobu got a large territory in Iyo province and became the first place in the province.

However, facing the battle of Jyokyu arouse between Kamakura shogunate and former emperor Gotoba (1180-1239),  Kono clan belonged to Gotoba side and lost the battle. Leaders of Kono clan were killed and being lost territories Kono clan once declined. Ippen (1239-1289), a famous Buddhist monk of Jishu denomination, was a person of Kono clan in this period but felt impermanence, then wandered all over Japan and devoted himself to the relief of local people.

But the opportunity of restoration for Kono clan has come. In 1274 and 1281, China (Mongolian Yuen dynasty) and Korea (Koryo dynastury) tried to invade to Japan and crossed the sea with countless soliders and ships twice. At this crisis, Michiari Kono (1250-1311), leader of Kono clan at that time, bravely fought against Mongolian troops and rendered remarkable achievement to drive back Yuen and Koryo armies. Michiari was praised as “Kono no Ushiro Tsuiji (Kono who continuously fought before barrier) ”, and recovered many territories, then became the governor of Iyo country.

Decline of Kono clan

In Muromachi era, even though having governor position, the power of Kono clan was limited. As Iyo province was divided into multiple basin and there were strong local lords in each area. Not only Kono clan could not let them obey, Kono clan was often attacked by alliance of these local lords. 

Beside this, Hosokawa clan, one of the strong and highest lord of Muromachi Shogunate which had territory at Sanuki province (Kagawa prefecture), frequently interfered to Iyo country. Further, there were two streams in Kono clan and they fought for the leader position for long time.  Yuzuki castle was built as a main base of Kono clan under such situation.  

Yuzuki castle roughly consist of main hill and two surrounding water moats. Main hill had several terraces and covered by inner moat, and is used as a military base. At the place between inner and outer moat there might be a residence of Kono clan and upper class retainers, and this area was covered by tall clay wall and wide water moat. Total size of Yuzuki castle was 400 meter diameter, and showed the authority of the governor.

In the former half of 16th century, the situation of Kono clan became severer. Around 1540 there arouse internal conflict for leader position again, and this conflict became the cause of interference of surrounding powers and local lords. Kono clan of this time was strongly supported by Murakami clan, a sea power in Setonaikai region. As Murakami clan had strong connection to Mouri clan, a powerful warlord of Aki province (Hiroshima prefecture), Kono clan was under the influence of Mouri clan.

Fall of Kono clan and afterward

During the latter half of 16th century, the situation did not change. Kono clan barely kept the house under Mouri clan, but after 1570's Motochika Chosokabe (1539-1599), a warlord of Tosa country (Kochi prefecture) and aimed at unite of Shikoku island, started to intrude to Iyo country. Mouri clan had to cope with the conflict against central ruler Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582) and could not fully support Kono clan. Further, Murakami clan which supported Kono clan left the clan and changed to Oda side.

It is unknown if Chosokabe clan let Kono clan to subordinate them, but anyway Kono clan was attacked by Mouri clan at the time of Shikoku expedition by next ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598), and opened Yuzuki castle in 1585. 400 years history of Kono clan became an end. 

Lords after Kono clan did not use Yuzuki castle, thus the shape of medieval castle is well kept in the site. Now the site becomes used as a historical park and residence of upper class retainers are reconstructed based on the result of investigation.


5 minutes walk from Matsuyama city tram Dogo-Onsen station. 20 minutes drive from Matsuyama Jidoshado Expressway Matsuyama interchange.

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Kurushima Castle -Island base of sea clan protected by swift current-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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