Thursday, June 19, 2014

Kasama Castle -Small main tower at large castle-

Kasama Castle

-Small main tower at large castle-



Name: Kasama Castle (Kasama-jo)
Place: Kasama Kasama city, Ibaraki
Location: 36.38276586904277, 140.2666465324926
Type: Mountain Castle
Built: Originally 13th century, expanded in 1590's
Remaining remnants: Stone walls, clay walls and turret (moved)
Title: 100 more famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Kasama castle (笠間城) is located on Sashiiroyama mountain at the central area of Kasama city. Kasama area is located at the middlewest of Hitachi province (Ibaraki prefecture), and it was a merging point of roads from Utsunomiya city and Oyama city to Mito city. 

Due to its geographical location Kasama city is one of the entrances to Hitachi country from Shimotsuke province (Tochigi prefecture), and also prospered as temple town of Kasama Inari shrine, one of three famous Inari shrine in Japan.

Build and expansion of the castle

Kasama castle (笠間城) was originally built by Kasama clan, a local lord of this area in 13th century. Kasama clan was originally a branch family of Utsunomiya clan at Utsunomiya castle, traditional house of governor of Shimotsuke country, and came to Kasama area at the beginning of 13th century. Kasama clan held this area over 300 years, and gradually expand Kasama castle into a large one. 

But later Kasama clan became discord with Utsunomiya clan and supported Hojo clan, a warlord of Sagami province (Kanagawa prefecture) which dominated most part of Kanto region and suppressed Utsunomiya clan. Finally Kasama clan did not obey Utsunomiya clan at the time of Odawara campaign in 1590 by central ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598) against Hojo clan, and was confiscated their territory and extinguished.  

In 1590, after the death of their former leader Ujisato Gamo (1556-1595), Gamo clan at Aizu Wakamatsu castle (Fukushima prefecture) was transferred to Utsunomiya castle, and Satonari Gamo (?-1614) was appointed as a commander of Kasama castle. Gamo clan was an excellent castle builder constructed Matsusaka castle (Mie prefecture) or Aizu Wakamatsu castle, and Satonari reformed Kasama castle into a modern one equipped stone walls.

At the edge of hilltop area there is a small peak used as main tower area, and a two story small main tower on the basement covered by stone wall was built here. Remaining part of hilltop area was the central area surrounded by large clay wall, and there were two more two story turrets which were same size of main tower. 

Under the central area there was secondary area, and many areas spread to halfway of the mountain. Front side wall of central area and secondary area were covered by stone walls, and main gate in front of the castle was a composite gate also guarded by stone wall. 

Kasama castle on and after Edo era

After the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Kasama castle had been held by mainly hereditary retainer of Edo shogunate same as other castles in Kanto region. From 1622 to 1645 Asano clan, a branch family of Asano domain which was a large feudal lord of Aki country (Hiroshima prefecture), governed this castle.

This Asano clan moved to Ako castle in 1645, and became the party of Genroku Ako incident 50 years later. Due to above reason, there was the ruin of house of Oishi clan, a vassal of Asano clan and ancestor of Yoshio Oishi (1659-1703), who was the leader of 47 samurais made avenge of their master, existed at the foot of the mountain.  

Subsequent to Meiji revolution, most buildings were lost but a two-story Hachimandai turret was moved to neighbor temple and is used as a hall. Beside this, main tower was dismantled but using material of the tower a shrine was built at the basement of former main tower. 

According to one theory this shrine building was only reformed from former main tower, and anyway these buildings are valuable because almost no original turret building remain in Kanto region except for Edo castle. 

Furthermore, only few castle equips stone wall in Kanto region, and this castle is also important for this reason. Stone walls of main tower area suffered severe damage by Great East Japan earthquake, and visitors have to take care about it.


30 minutes walk from JR East Mito line Kasama station, 15 minutes drive from Kitakanto Expressway Tomobe interchange 

Related Castles

Utsunomiya Castle -Castle with long history of disturbance-
Ako Castle -Castle famous for a story of loyal samurais-


Pictures (click to enlarge)

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