Monday, April 7, 2014

Ogaki Castle -Castle served important role at battle of Sekigahara-

Ogaki Castle

-Castle served important role at battle of Sekigahara-



Name: Ogaki castle (Ogaki-jo)
Alias: Ushiya-jo (Ushiya castle)
Place: Kuruwa-machi Ogaki city, Gifu
Location: 35.361864430529046, 136.616131881619
Type: Flat castle
Built: Originally 15th century, expanded in 16th century
Remaining remnants: Gate and stone walls
Title: 100 more famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Ogaki castle (大垣城) is placed in the central of Ogaki city, Gifu prefecture. Historically Ogaki city is a center of western part of Mino province (Gifu prefecture), and being surrounded by Ibigawa river and Kuisegawa river, it had been a place suitable for defense. 

The central area of the castle was not so large, but encircled by multiple layer of water moats connected to the river, the total area of the castle was vast and secure. Ogaki castle is also famous for used as headquarters of Mitsunari Ishida (1560-1600), leader of Toyotomi supporting lords.

Ogaki castle was originally built by Miyagawa clan, a local lords, Originally it was a small castle and called as Ushiya castle. Once this castle was occupied by Nobuhide Oda (1510-1551), a warlord of Owari province (western part of Aichi prefecture) and the father of Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), but Saito clan, governor of Mino province, retrieved this castle in several year.

When Nobunaga Oda captured Gifu castle and seized Mino province in 1567, Ushiya castle also belonged to Oda clan. Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598), the successor of Nobunaga, emphasized this castle as a important defense point in front of Kinki region from eastern countries, and significantly reformed and expanded it.

Strategy of Ieyasu and Mitsunari

After the death of Hideyoshi in 1598, Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), the largest lord under Toyotomi government, aimed at next hegemony and started his action. In response to this, Mitsunari Ishida (1560-1600), a chief administrative officer of Hideyoshi, tried to stop this attempt. In 1600, Ieyasu and supporting lords marched to Uesugi clan in Aizu region which was close to Mitsunari, and utilizing this opportunity, in vacant Kinki area, Mitsunari raised his army with other large lord such as Mouri clan or Ukita clan against Ieyasu. 

Territories of Ieyasu and his supporting lords were divided into Eastern Japan and Shikoku island or Kyushu island, and territories of Mitsunari and colleagues mainly located in Kinki and Chugoku region, at the middle of Ieyasu side territory. Ieyasu side army had military strength and high moral, but some large lords were apart from their territories.

On the other hand, Mitsunari side was mixed up and low moral, but its seized Kinki region a political and economic center of Japan, and two authority at that time it means Imperial Household and Hideyori Toyotomi (1593-1615), son of Hideyoshi, existed their region (Imperial Household and Hideyori approved Ieyasu’s campaign against Uesugi clan as a vessel of Toyotomi clan, but it could be changed as a political maneuvering by Mitsunari side).

Based on above situation, basic strategy of Mitsunari was to prevent invasion of Ieyasu army into Kinki region and gain supremacy over western Japan during this time, and on the other hand, Ieyasu’s basic policy is to break the barrier of Mitsunari and retrieve Kinki region as soon as possible.

Ogaki castle at the battle of Sekigahara

To realize this strategy, Mitsunari used Gifu castle and Ogaki castle as a defense line against Tokugawa army coming up from both of Tokaido way and Nakasendo way, and also strengthen bases at Sekigahara, the path from Mino province to Kinki region. Mitsunari was assumed to think to keep front line several months, and placed Nagataka Fukuhara (?-1600), husband of his daughter and lord of Oita Funai castle (Oita prefecture), as a commander of Ogaki castle. 

But due to the assault of vanguard of Tokugawa army, Gifu castle which was guarded by Hidenobu Oda (1580-1605), a grandson of Nobunaga, was lost in only one day. Utilizing this chance Ieyasu’s main army quickly intruded into Mino province, even though Ieyasu lacked his second force lead by Hidetada Tokugawa (1579-1632) which was obstructed by Masayuki Sanada (1547-1611) at Ueda castle (Nagano prefecture). 

On the other hand, Mitsunari side dispersed its colleagues with high moral to capture castles held by Ieyasu side lords and could not concentrate them. In this sense, Mitsunari lacked flexibility for the accident. Additionally Ieyasu pretended to attack Kinki region directly, thus Mitsunari left Ogaki castle and moved to Sekigahara in haste, to guard the way into Kinki region. 

As a result a decisive battle occurred in Sekigahara. Even though Mitsunari side had larger number of soldier than Tokugawa army, due to the standing by and watching or betrayal such as Mouri clan or Kobayakawa clan because of preparatory operation by Ieyasu, Mitsunari side army collapsed and was defeated. 

Ogaki castle stood by the end of the battle of Sekigahara, but after the battle, because of betrayal of guarding generals such as Yorifusa Sagara (1574-1636), Ogaki castle finally opened. A woman named Oam recorded this besiege, who escaped the castle just before the fall riding a washtub to across the water moat.

Afterward of the castle

After the battle of Sekigahara, Ishikawa clan was appointed as a commander of  this castle and rebuilt lost buildings. There stand a white four story main tower and corner turrets together in small central areas, and multilayered view of building seen from water moats was beautiful. In 1635 Ujikane Toda (1576-1655) was transferred from Amagasaki castle to this castle, and throughout Edo era, Ogaki castle was governed by Toda clan as a center of this region.

Subsequent to Meiji revolution multiple moats and buildings were lost, but main tower and corner turrets in central area remained and were nominated as former National Treasure. But due to the bombing during WW2, regretfully main tower and other buildings were lost. After WW2, main tower and two turrets were reconstructed modeled after former exterior, and one original gate was also transferred to the east gate of Central area. 


10 minutes walk from JR Central Tokaido Honsen line Ogaki station. 15 minutes drive from Meishin Expressway Ogaki interchange.

Related Castles

GIfu Castle -Unfortunate ends of holders-
Sawayama Castle -Castle undeserved for Mitsunari-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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