Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Utsubuki Castle -Results of betting-

Utsubuki Castle 

-Results of betting-



Name: Utsubuki castle (Utsubuki-jo)
Place: Nakanomachi Kurayoshi city, Tottori
Type: Mountain castle
Built: Originally 15th century, expanded in 16th century
Remaining remnants: Stone walls and clay walls

Brief History

Utsubuki castle(打吹城) is located at Utsubukiyama mountain, north of the central area of Kurayoshi city. Kurayoshi city has been a center of Houki province (western half of Tottori prefecture) from ancient era, and an entrance from Mimasaka province (northern part of Okayama prefecture). 

In medieval era, Yamana clan, the governor of Houki province, resided at Utsubuki castle, and Ogamo clan, a local clan stem from 12th century, actually held this area. At the beginning of 16th century, Ogamo clan merged into Nanjo clan, also a traditional local clan.

For many local small lords, selection of master was a vital problem. As they actually grasp land and people wrong decision might not necessarily lead to their extinction, but if they support winner they can survive and get larger territory, but if belonged to loser they might be confiscated their territory, expelled or punished. 

Even if they change to winner’s side, if its timing is too early they will be punished by former master, and it too late their change might be not evaluated, or condemned as betrayal. Some local lords divided their house into two houses and supported each masters, to continue their house irrespective to win and lose of their master.

Origin of Nanjo clan

Nanjo clan was originally small lord of this area, resided at Ueshi castle located in mountain area just apart from Kurayoshi city. At the beginning of 16th century, Tsunehisa Amago (1458-1541), a powerful warlord of Izumo province (Shimane prefecture) invaded into Houki province. Western half of Houki provnce was occupied by Amago clan, and local lords in eastern half of Houki province including Nanjyo clan subordinated to Amago clan.

However, after the failure of the siege of Yoshida Koriyama castle (Hiroshima prefecture) which was the main base of Motonari Mouri (1497-1571), Amago clan lost its power. At the siege of Gassan Toda castle, the main base of Amago clan by its rival Ouchi clan, Nanjo clan turned to Ouchi clan, and next to Mouri clan after the fall of Ouchi clan.

In the meantime Amago clan once recovered their power then Nanjo clan had to escape from their territory, but Amago clan was finally ruined by Mouri clan in 1566, and western and middle part of Houki province became the territory of Mouri clan. Nanjo clan once became a major local lord under Mouri clan.

Betting of Motosada Nanjo

But in the same time, Nobunaga Oda (1548-1582), a warlord of Owari province (Aichi prefecture) seized central areas and rapidly grew its power. Mouri clan and Oda clan  at first made friendship and kept noninterference, but around 1578, the conflict of both power had began. Nobunaga appointed Hideyoshi Hashiba (1537-1598, later Hideyoshi Toyotomi) as a commander and ordered to conquest Chugoku region.

In 1578 Hideyoshi entered Harima province (Hyogo prefecture) and started his campaign against Mouri clan. At first he suffered from continuous revolts of Miki clan at Miki castle and Murashige Araki at Arioka castle in backward, and was inferior to Mouri clan. But once suppressed these revolts, Hideyoshi captured Harima province and Tajima province (both Hyogo prefecture) by 1580, then started to suppress Mouri clan in earnest.

Just at that time Nanjo clan had a trouble with Mouri clan, thus current leader Mototsugu Nanjo (1549-1593) decided to leave Mouri clan and support Hideyoshi Hashiba. In 1581, Hideyoshi sieged Tottori castle (Tottori city), and large army of Mouri clan lead by Motoharu Kikkawa (1530-1586), a brave general and commander of Sanin region, advanced to middle of Houki province to save Tottori castle. 

Survival and reform of castle

Before the fierce attack of Motoharu Kikkawa, Nanjo clan lost several branch castles but securely kept Ueshi castle and Utsubuki castle. Mouri army could not bring supplies to Tottori castle, thus Tottori castle fell without support. After the fall of Tottori castle, Nanjo clan kept fighting against Mouri clan by the coordination of Hideyoshi and Mouri clan after the death of Nobunaga in 1582.

Due to this achievement, Nanjo clan became a lord governing middle part of Houki province under Toyotomi government. As Ueshi castle, their residence, was apart from Kurayoshi town, Mototsugu expanded Utsubuki castle into a modern one to govern town. 

The structure of Utsubuki castle resembles to Ueshi castle. Having a considerably large central area with corridor terraces at the peak, and build numerous terraces at the surrounding ridges connecting to hilltop area. But the usage of stone walls and having several defensive forts at the halfway of western slope progressed from Ueshi castle.

Betting of Mototada Nanjo

After the death of Hideyoshi in 1598, there arise a conflict with Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), the largest lord under Toyotomi government, and former Toyotomi supporting group lead by chief administrative staff Mitsunari Ishida (1560-1600). This time Mototada Nanjo (1579-1615), son of Mototsugu belonged to Mitsunari, probably coordinated with surrounding large powers such as Ukita clan or Mouri clan. But Mitsunari was defeated by Ieyasu at the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, and Mototada was confiscated its territory and expelled.

Later Mototada fought as Toyotomi army at the battle of Osaka castle in 1615 and 1615. Mototada attempted to betray to Tokugawa side under the condition of recovering former territory,but was detected by his colleague and killed. As a result, Mototsugu lost his territory at his first betting, and his life at second time.

Along with the expelling of Nanjy clan, their castles including Ueshi castle and Utsubuki castle was broken. In Edo era, Kurayoshi town was governed by a local magistrate appointed by Ikeda clan at Tottori castle, and an administrative office was built near the mountain. Now the site became a park with cherry blossoms, and terrains and some broken ruin of castles remain at the mountain, along with traditional Japanese town at hillside.


20 minutes bus ride from JR West Sanin-Honsen line Utsubuki station to Utsubuki Koen park.  20 minutes drive from Route 313 bypass Kurayoshi interchange to the park. 30 minutes walk from the park to hilltop castle.

Related Castles

Tottori Castle -As secure as guarding general's will-
Ueshi Castle -Mystic castle with legend of heavenly maiden-


Pictures (click to enlarge)

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