Thursday, June 12, 2014

Nagahama Castle -Castle prepared future ruler-

Nagahama Castle

-Castle prepared future ruler-



Name: Nagahama Castle (Nagahama-jo)

Place: Osima-cho Nagahama city, Shiga
Location: 35.37745902301517, 136.2617629216693
Type: Flat Castle
Built: 1575
Remaining remnants: Two gates 

Brief History

Nagahama castle (長浜城) is located in the eastern seashore of Lake Biwako, at the central area of Nagahama city. Nagahama city is placed along with Hokkoku Kaido way, a main road from Hokuriku region to Kinki or Tokai region, and along with the backward granary area this city had been the economic center of northeast part of Omi country (Shiga prefecture). Nagahama castle was built by Hideyoshi Toyotomi who later became the ruler, and the place grew up Hideyoshi.

Hideyoshi's promotion and build of castle

From the beginning of 16th century Azai clan had been held this region, and they resided Odani castle, a huge mountain castle at 10km north of Nagahama castle. In 1573, Azai clan was extinguished by Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), a warlord of Owari province (Aichi prefecture) and ruler of central area at that time. Former Azai territory was given to his general Hideyoshi Hashiba (1537-1598), who made achievement at this siege and later became the ruler as Hideyoshi Toyotomi.

At first Hideyoshi used Odani castle for a while, but next year he newly built Nagahama castle just beside Lake Biwako. The reason of construction is said to be a convenience of water transportation, but also that Odani castle was a residence of warlord and it was too huge for a castle of general, and it was necessary to erase the memory of former lord. After two years construction Nagahama castle was completed, and Hideyoshi moved to new castle with his family.

The ruin of castle had mostly disappeared and it was difficult to grasp its structure, but it is said that central area with stone wall existed just beside of the lake, and a three story main tower existed in the central area. Intestingly all major castles of Oda clan in Omi province stood beside the lake, such as Azuchi castle, Sawayama castle, Sakamoto castle or Omizo castle, as Oda army thought important of rapid water transportation of troops by ship. Secondary area and outer area surrounded central area in a concentric circle, and next to the castle there was a castle town moved from Odani castle.

Castle prepared future ruler

Nagahama castle was the first castle for Hideyoshi as a feudal lord and commander, and he stayed this castle around between 1573 to 1578. In this five year Hideyoshi build his basis as a future ruler. For the first two years the situation of comparatively quiet, and he focused on domestic administration and organization.

At first, he built the town from null, and experienced protection and development of commercial activities. Next appointed and promoted many subordinates later supported his government, such as Mitsunari Ishida (1560-1600), Nagamori Mashita (1545-1615) or Yoshitsugu Otani (1558-1600). As Hideyoshi was too busy, it was recorded that his wife One (1547-1624) also participated in political affairs.

Latter three years became the time of ferment in reversal. In 1575 Nobunaga extinguished Nagashima Ikkoikki, a denomination of Japanese Buddhism, and also defeated Katsuyori Takeda (1546-1582) at the battle of Nagashino. In 1576, suspended battle against Honganji temple, leader of  Ikkoikki resumed, and next year Kenshin Uesugi (1530-1578), a warlord of Echigo country (Niigata prefecture) who was called as god of war, started to move southward from Tohoku region.

Surrounded by enemies at every front, commanders of Oda army including Hideyoshi ran around everywhere to keep the front and attack enemies, and during this busy period Hideyoshi and his army grew their ability as an independent army. Being evaluated such experience, in 1577, Hideyoshi was catapulted into the most important regional commander facing Mouri clan, a large power of Chugoku region and moved to Himeji castle. Utilizing this position Hedeyoshi could became the next ruler after the death of Nobunaga by the incident of Honnoji, a coup d'etat by his general Mitsuhide Akechi (1528-1582) in 1582.

Nagahama Castle after Hideyoshi's era

After the battle of Yamazaki in which Hideyoshi beat Mitsuhide, Nagahama castle was once allocated to Katsuie Shibata (1522-1583) during the redistribution of former Oda territoryat the Kiyosu conference, and Katsuie placed his nephew Katsutoyo Shibata (1556-1583). 

But shortly after that a conflict arouse between Hideyoshi and Katsuie, and Hideyoshi made pressure to Katsutoyo to open the castle during the winter season when Katsuie could not move because of snow. Katsutoyo easily opened Nagahama castle to Hideyoshi, and Hideyoshi placed Katsutoyo Yamauchi (1545-1615, also known as Kazutoyo Yamauchi), his old retainer as a comamnder of the castle.

In 1586, there was a Tensho earthquake, a large earthquake by which Kaerikumo castle in Hida country disappeared. Being built at weak ground near the lake, Nagahama castle also suffered severe damage and Katsutoyo lost his daughter by collapse of building.

Along with the move of Katsutoyo to Kakegawa castle in 1590, Nagahama castle became temporally vacant. But subsequent to the battle of Sekigahara in 1600 arouse after the death of Hideyoshi, Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616) who won the battle seized the castle and placed his hereditary retainer Nobunari Naito (1545-1612) as a commander of the castle.

In 1616 Nagahama domain was integrated to Hikone domain of Ii clan, and Nagahama castle was abolished at that time, just only after 40 years from construction. Buildings of the castle were used at Hikone castle or other place other than two gate remaining at neighbor temples, and especially Tenbin turret of Hikone castle is said to be transferred from Nagahama castle. Water moats of the castle disappeared due to land reclamation after Edo era and ruin of castle was mostly lost, but remnant of main tower basement still exists as a small hill. 

In spite of abolition of castle, Nagahama town kept its prosperity throughout Edo era. Now Nagahama city became the famous sightseeing place with many old merchant houses. The site of the castle is used as a park, and an imitation of main tower is built and used as a museum of Nagahama city and Hideyoshi.

Related Castles

Odani Castle -History of three generations of Azai clan-
Osaka Castle -Symbol of unification of Japan-
Hikone Castle -Red color armored army of Ii clan-
Himeji Castle -Castle of Hideyoshi and Kanbe-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

No comments:

Post a Comment