Thursday, April 3, 2014

Ozu castle -Final winner among seven braves at Shizugatake-

Ozu Castle

-Final winner among seven braves at Shizugatake-



Name:Ozu castle (Ozu-jyo/Ohzu-jyo)
Alias: Jizogatake-jyo
Place: Ozu Ozu city, Ehime
Location: 33.50975622038329, 132.54176267945962
Type: Hill castle
Built: Originally 14th century, expanded in 16th century
Remaining remnants: Four corner turrets, warehouse, stone walls, clay walls and moats
Title: 100 famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Ozu castle (大洲城) is located in a hill aside Hiji river, at the center of Ozu city. Ozu city is a connecting point of Hiji river and road from Matsuyama city, center of middle part of Iyo province (Ehime prefecture) to Uwajima city, center of southern part of Iyo country and called as a small Kyoto.

Originally Ohzu area was goverened by Utsunomiya clan, a branch family of Utsunomiya clan at Shimotsuke province (Tochigi prefecture). Utsunomiya clan was a traditional family but stayed as a small lord here, and kept conflict with Kono clan at Yuzuki castle (Matsuyama city) or Saionji clan at Uwajima castle (Uwajima city). 

But in 1568, Utsunomiya clan attacked Kono clan with Ichijyo clan, governor of Tosa country (Kochi prefecture) but faced counter attack of Kono clan supported by Mouri clan, a ruler of Chugoku region, and Utsunomiya clan was extinguished. In 1570’s once captured by Chosokabe clan, later ruler of Shikoku Island, but after the Shikoku campaign against Chosokabe clan by current ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598) in 1586, Iyo country was governed by Takakage Kobayakawa, chancellor of Mouri clan.

In 1595, Takatora Todo (1556-1630), an excellent castle builder, was appointed as a lord of south half of Iyo province thus transformed Ozu castle and Uwajima castle into a modern one. After the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Takatora was appraised his contribution to the victory of Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), the founder of Edo Shogunate, thus achieved current Imabari area then newly built Imabari castle and moved there. In 1609, Takatora further moved to Tsu castle in Ise province (Mie prefecture), then Yasuharu Wakizaka (1554-1626) came to Ohzu. Yasuharu also improved this castle into current shape.

Seven braves at the battle of Shizugatake

Yasuharu Wakizaka is known as a one of seven braves at the battle of Shizugatake in 1585, in which Hideyoshi Toyotomi beat Katsuie Shibata (1522-1583) and seized the hegemony after the death of former ruler Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582). At this battle young generals grew under Hideyoshi actively worked, and Hideyoshi pushed them as seven braves largely for the purpose of  propaganda.


Born at

Final territory under Toyotomi government

Peak territory under Edo shogunate


Masanori Fukushima

Owari province

Owari province (240,000 koku)

Aki and Bingo province (490,000 koku)


Kiyomasa Kato (1562-1611)

Owari province

Half of Higo province (190,000 koku)

Whole Higo province (520,000 koku)


Yoshiakira Kato (1563-1631)

Mikawa province

Iyo province (100,000 koku)

Aizu region (400,000 koku)


Yasuharu Wakizaka (1554-1626)

Omi province

Awaji province (33,000 koku)

Iyo province (53,000 koku)


Nagayasu Hirano (1559-1628)

Owari province

Yamato province (5,000 koku)

Yamato province (5,000 koku)


Takenori Kasuya (1562-?)

Harima province

Harima province 9,000 koku)



Katsumoto Katagiri (1556-1615)

Omi province

Settsu province (10,000 koku)

Settsu province (10,000 koku)


But among these seven generals each life after the battle was totally different. Masanori Fukusima and Kiyomasa Kato were originally born in the same place of Hideyoshi, then Hideyoshi emphasized them as virtual relative of Toyotomi clan. Yoshiakira Kato, who was born in next of Owari country, was also promoted under Hideyoshi. Yasuharu worked hard as operator of naval force, but compared with above people, he was only a small lord. But remaining three did not promote and stayed as a small retainer.

After the death of Hideyoshi, due to the conflict between generals and administrative staffs of Toyotomi clan, these generals supported Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), being hostile to Mitsunari Ishida (1560-1600), chief administrative staff of Hideyoshi. Around the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Masanori, Kiyomasa and Yoshiakira worked hard for Ieyasu and got larger territory after the battle. 

Yasuharu at first supported Mitsunari, but based on an advance agreement, he betrayed at the battlefield and attacked Yoshitsugu Otani (1558-1600), a general of Mitsunari side. Due to this action, he could slightly increase his territory. Remaining three were only small retainer and could not show their existence, and remained as before.

But under the reign of Edo shogunate, Tokugawa clan regarded large lords close to former ruler Toyotomi clan as dangerous. Fukushima clan and both Kato clan was later extinguished by Edo shogunate, based on false accusation. On the other hand, Wakizaka clan could keep his house because they were not so important and not so close to Toyotomi clan compared to former three houses. As a result, helped by many accident, Wakizaka clan became the final winner of seven braves taking middle way.

Afterward of the castle

In 1619, Wakisaka clan moved to Iida castle (Nagano prefecture), and Kato clan (different from above two Kato clan) was transferred from Yonago castle (Tottori prefecture). Throughout Edo era, Ozu castle had been a residence of Kato clan. In 1857, due to the earthquake around this area many building were lost and reconstructed.

Subsequent to Meiji revolution, like other castles many building including main tower were broken, but four turrets were kept because they were reconstructed and relatively new. In 2004, a four story main tower was reconstructed similar to original in traditional wooden style, and connected with two corner turret the black main tower exudes a stately atmosphere.


20 minutes walk from JR Shikoku Yosansen line Ozu station. 15 minutes drive from Matsuyama Jidoshado Expressway Ozu interchange.

Related Castles

Tsu Castle -People who does not change his master seven times is not full fledged-
Imabari Castle -Water castle in town of marine transportation-
Uwajima Castle -White elegant main tower looking down on port-
Iida Castle -Castle connected four provinces-


Pictures (click to enlarge)

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