Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Odani Castle (2) -History of princess and three daughters of Azai clan-

Odani Castle (2)

-History of princess and three daughters of Azai clan-


Brief History

Continued from part 1

Alliance with Nobunaga and break up

At that time, Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), a warlord of Owari province (western half of Aichi prefecture), seized Mino province (Gifu prefecture) and attempted to proceed to Kyoto, the capital of Japan. Nobunaga accepted Yoshiaki Ashikaga (1537-1597), younger brother of assassinated 13th Shogun Yoshiteru Ashikaga (1536-1565) and used him as their banner.

As Omi province located between Mino province and Kyoto, Nobunaga hoped to ally with Azai clan to secure his road to Kyoto (main road to Kyoto pass through southern half of Omi country held by Rokkaku clan).

After an argument, Nagamasa decided to accept this ally with Nobunaga by marrying with Princess Oichi (1547-1583), younger sister of Nobunaga. But considering past assistance from Asakura clan, a condition of non hostility against Asakura clan is included. At first this ally worked well, and Nobunaga could advance to Kyoto and placed Yoshiaki as 15th Shogun in 1568.

But gradually a conflict occured between Nobunaga and Yoshiaki, and Yoshiaki tried to oppose to Nobunaga under cooperation with Asakura clan. In response to this Nobunaga attacked Asakura clan leading large army in August 1569, but this was a violation of condition to ally with Azai clan. 

Nagamawa was upset by this situation, but could not ignore Hisamasa and important general’s opinion to belong to Asakura clan, then finally decided to break with Nobunaga and support Asakura clan. Being surrounded Asakura clan and Azai clan from front side and back side, Nobunaga had to discontinue attack to Asakuca clan and ran away to Kyoto (called as Retreat from Kanagasaki). In spite of break up of her husband and her brother, princess Oichi did not leave Azai clan.

Total war with Oda clan and fall of Odani castle

Enrage about betrayal of his brother in law, Nobunaga started his action to destroy Azai and Asakura clan. In June 1570, Nobunaga came to Azai territory with his ally Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), and had a battle with ally of Azai and Asakura clan at riverside or Anegawa river, at 5 kilometer south of Odani castle. Azai clan fought well against huge army of Nobunaga, but finally was defeated and retreated to Odani castle. As a result of this battle, Azai clan lost many generals and also southern half of their territory.

But supported by secure Odani castle and aid from Asakura clan, Azai clan still stand. They participated in anti Nobunaga alliance lead by Honganji, a denomination of Japanese buddhism, and suffered Nobunaga several times. But Hideyoshi Hashiba (1537-1598, later Hideyoshi Toyotomi), a commander of Oda army at the front line against Azai clan, recruited generals of Azai clan with his famous military staff Shigeharu Takenaka (1544-1579), and Azai clan gradually became inferior.

In August 1573, Hideyoshi picked Atsuji clan, the commander of Yamamotoyama castle just before Odani castle, to Oda army. Utilizing this opportunity, Nobunaga lead all his army and sieged directly Odani castle. Yoshikage Asakura (1533-1573), leader of Asakura clan, came to support Azai clan and stayed behind Odani castle, but due to sudden attack of Nobunaga, Asakura army collapsed and run away to their territory Echizen country. Nobunaga chase Asakura army to their main base Ichijyodani valley, and extinguished Asakura clan only in one week.

Being lost Asakura clan, Azai clan became totally isolated. Oda army which returned from Echizen country sieged Odani castle. At the end of the month, troops of Hideyoshi Hashiba marched toward the main area, and occupied Sannomaru Area, the center of the castle. Divided into two part, it became impossible to defend organizedly, then Hisamasa and Nagamasa killed themselves in the castle and Azai clan became an end. Even though the son of Nagamasa was killed, princess Oichi and her three daughters were saved.

By achievement of capturing Odani castle, Hideyoshi Hashiba was admitted to hold the former territory of Azai clan, and became a major commander under Nobunaga. Hideyoshi used Odani castle as his residence for a while, but later built Nagahama castle just beside Lake Biwako and moved there. Odani castle was abolished then and buildings were moved to Nagahama castle.

Story of survived princess and three daughters

Survived princess Oichi and three daughters lead a checkered life of their own, affected by the fact they were bloodline of Nobunaga. Princess Oichi had a second marriage with Katsuie Shibata (1522-1583), one of major commander of Oda clan after the death of Nobunaga at the accident of Honnoji in 1582.

But amoung the conflict for successor of Nobunaga, Katsuie was defeated by Hideyoshi at the battle of Shizugakake in 1583, and after releasing three daughters, Katsuie and Oichi suicided together in burning main tower of Kitanosho castle (Fukui prefecture), their residence.

The eldest daughter Chacha became concbuine of Hideyoshi and called as princess Yodo. She became the mother of Hideyori Toyotomi (1569-1615), the successor of Hideyoshi, and after the death of Hideyoshi she wielded power as a mother of Hideyori. But Toyotomi clan was extinguished by Ieyasu Tokugawa at the battle of Osaka castle, and Yodogimi passed away with Hideyori in burning turret of Osaka castle, same as her mother.

Second daughter princess Ohatsu (1570-1633) married with Takatsugu Kyogoku (1563-1609), a person of Kyogoku clan which was former master of Azai clan. Takatsugu made achievement by defense of Otsu castle just before the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, and after many twist and turns, Kyogoku clan continued as a feudal lord by the end of Edo era. Ohatsu herself lived longest among three sisters. Among the conflict between Toyotomi clan and Tokugawa clan, princess Ohatsu tried hard to keep the relation between them, but it failed.

Third daughter princess Ogo (1573-1626) became a wife of Hidetaga Tokugawa (1579-1632) , the second shogun of Edo shogunate. She became the mother of third shogun Iemitsu Tokugawa (1604-1651), princess Senhime (1597-1666), and princess Kazuko (1607-1678), empress of Emperor Gomizunoo and mother of Empress Meisei. Princess Ogo is also a distant ancestor of current Emperor.

Afterward of castle

Although buildings and stones were used for construction of Nagahama castle, castle itself still kept whole shape of medieval mountain castle and there remains ruins of stone walls here and there. The size of castle remind us former power of Azai clan, and also wreck of stone walls arouse nostalgia for extinguished clan. We can ride up to the entrance of main areas by car, but if walk up from the bottom, trekking equipment is strongly recommended.


45 minutes walk from JR West Hokuriku Honsen line Kawake station to hillside entrance. It will take 60 minutes from hillside to hilltop. 20 minutes drive from Hokuriku Jidoshado Expressway Nagahama interchange.

Related Castles

Nagahama Castle -Castle prepared future ruler-
Kitanosho Castle -Calm end of proud general and princess-
Ichijodani Castle -100 year prosperity of Asakura clan-
Obama Castle -Distinguished lord who showed backbone-
Kannonji Castle -Strength and weakness of Rokkaku clan-
Gassan Toda Castle -Rapid rise and all of Amago clan-
Nanao Castle -"Frost fills encampment and autumn air is purified"-
Kasugayama Castle -Residence of "Dragon of Echigo"-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

Kyogokumaru and Sannomaru (continued)

Rokubo and Gesshomaru


Fukujimaru and Yamazakimaru

No comments:

Post a Comment