Saturday, August 30, 2014

Hiketa Castle -Bridgehead of Hideyoshi to Shikoku island-

Hiketa Castle

-Bridgehead of Hideyoshi to Shikoku island-



Name: Hiketa castle (Hiketa-jo)
Place: Hiketa Higashi-Kagawa city, Kagawa
Type: Hill Castle
Built: Unknown
Remaining remnants: Stone walls, clay walls and dry moats
Title: 100 more famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Hiketa castle (引田城) is located at a hill named Shiroyama, at the north of Hiketa port. Hikita port is a natural good port guarded by Shiroyama hill, and acted as the eastern entrance of Sanuki province (Kagawa prefecture). 

Hiketa town is just 10km away from Naruto area, the entrance of Awa province (Tokushima prefecture) and connecting point from Awajishima island, but due to Sanuki mountains separate two provinces then land transport of these area was difficult. Thus to transport to Sanuki province from Kinki region, it was the easiest way to ship to Hiketa port.

Chosokabe clan and Nobunaga

The precise year of building is unknown, but at the former half of 16th century this Hiketa castle was held by Samukawa clan. Around 1570 Miyoshi clan deprived this castle and Yano clan guarded this castle.

In 1570's Miyoshi clan significantly lost their power, and Motochika Chosokabe (1539-1599), a warlord who united Tosa country (Kochi prefecture), started to his action to unite whole Shikoku island. At first Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), the central ruler, supported Motochika through Mitsuhide Akechi (1528-1582), to beat Miyoshi clan. 

But gradually Nobunaga had concern about the growth of Chosokabe clan, then Nobunaga changed his policy to suppress Motochika and supported Miyoshi clan by Hideyoshi Hashiba (1537-1598, later Hideyoshi Toyotomi). Due to this policy change Mitsuhide lost his face, and it is sometimes said that this became the remote cause of the incident of Honnoji, a coup d'etat against Nobunaga by Mitsuhide. At last Nobunaga decide to conquer Chosokabe clan and prepared to send army lead by his third son Nobutaka Oda (1558-1583), but just before the shipment above incident of Honnoji occurred and Nobunaga died.

Hideyoshi's bridgehead to Shikoku island

After the incident of Honnoji, Hideyoshi Hashiba beat Mitsuhide and became the substantial successor of Nobunaga. But there were other generals of Nobunaga such as Katsuie Shibata (1522-1583), and former ally Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616) and Hideyoshi could not seize the hegemony at once.

On the other hand, Motochika escaped the crisis and attempted to quick unification of Shikoku island during the confusion of central area. Motochika strengthen his attack to Awa province (Tokushima prefecture), and beat Masayasu Sogo (1554-1587) at the battle of Nakatomi-gawa. Motochika occupied Shozui castle (Tokushima prefecture), former main base of Miyoshi clan, and siege Sogo castle. Masayasu stand for this attack but Sogo clan faced the crisis.

Hideyoshi thought to conquer Shikoku island in the future, but for the moment he had to cope with Katsuie or Ieyasu and had no room to take action against Chosokabe clan. Thus Hideyoshi sent his general Hidehisa Sengoku (1552-1614), commander of Sumoto castle at Awaji island toward Sanuki province, to support Sogo clan and restrain Chosokabe clan. Hidehisa shipped to Hiketa port and entered Hiketa castle with small army.

Fierce battle with Chosokabe clan

Looking at this situation, Motochika marched to Sanuki country with 20,000 soldiers. Hidehisa had only 5,000 soldier the he made sudden attack to Chosokabe army and fought well at first. But later outnumbered by Chosokabe army and suffered severe defeat, then Hidehisa had to abandon Hikita castle and returned to Awaji island. But Hidehisa guarded Awaji island and supported remaining anti Chosokabe lords, thus  Motochika could not complete the unite of Shikoku island at the final stage.

In the meantime, Hideyoshi beat Katsuie Shibata at the battle of Shizugatake in 1583, and after the battle of Komaki Nagakute in 1584 made agreement with Ieyasu. Now Hideyoshi could send all army to Shikoku island, and in 1585 spring Hideyoshi started Shikoku campaign against Motochika. Facing over 100,000 soldiers of Hideyoshi, this time Motochika was outnumbered and had to surrender to Hideyoshi. In spite of defeat, Hidehisa and Hiketa castle barely achieved the target.

Usage under Ikoma clan and abolishment

After the Shikoku campaign Chikamasa Ikoma (1526-1603) was appointed as a lord of Sanuki province. Chikamasa at first entered Hiketa castle but this castle located too east to manage the whole country, thus Chikamsa built Takamatsu castle and moved there. But Hiketa castle was used as a base of eastern Sanuki country along with Takamatsu castle and Marugame castle and improved to a modern castle. 

Hiketa castle consist of several areas spread over the ridge of the Shiroyama hill over 400 meter, and major areas were totally surrounded by stone walls. The area named Nishinokuruwa is the central area of the castle, and there might be three turrets in this area. The northward and westward of the castle is the front side facing the port and town, thus tall stone walls were built at this direction.

Finally Hiketa castle was abolished in 1616 based on Ikkoku Ichijyo Rei (one domain one castle rule) published this year. All building and good part of stone wall were lost at that time, but some part of stone wall still remain until now. The location of the castle indicate the struggle of Hideyoshi had to hold Chosokabe clan with limited resource.


30 minutes walk from JR Shikoku Kotokusen line Hiketa station. 20 minutes drive from Takamatsu Jidoshado Expressway Hiketa interchange.

Related Castles

Sumoto Castle -Magnificent castle guarded Awaji island-
Takamatsu Castle -Beautiful water castle with original turrets-
Marugame Castle -Small main tower on sheer stone wall-


Pictures (click to enlarge)