Monday, December 15, 2014

Chihaya Castle -"Kongosan fort still stands"-

Chihaya Castle

-"Kongosan fort still stands"-



Name: Chihaya castle (Chihaya-jo)
Place: Chihaya Chihaya-Akasaka village, Osaka
Location: 34.41636050256783, 135.65181704970496
Type: Mountain Castle
Built: 1332 
Remaining remnants: Clay walls and moats 
Title: 100 famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Continued from Kamiakasaka castle

Chihaya castle (千早城) is located at a ridge continued westward from Kongosan mountain, one of 1,100 meter height above sea level at the south east edge of Kawachi province (south part of Osaka prefecture). Chihaya area is a narrow valley about 5 kilometer upstream from Akasaka area, which was the base of Kusunoki clan. 

Build of Chihaya castle

In 1331, Emperor Godaigo (1288-1339) who hoped to defeat Kamakura Shogunate and directly rule the government raised anti Shogunate army with Prince Moriyoshi (1308-1335) and Masashige Kusunoki (1294-1336), the local lord of Chihaya Akasaka area. Emperor Godaigo stayed at Kasagiyama mountain at the south of Kyoto city, but was captured by Shogunate and exiled to Oki island (Shimane prefecture). 

Masashige also besieged at Shimoakasaka castle with Prince Moriyoshi who escaped from Kasagiyama mountain, but due to the shortage of supply Masashige and Prince Moriyoshi left Shimoakasaka castle. Masashige pretended as if he died in the castle, and Shogunate believed it.

After the battle of Akasaka castle, Kamakura Shogunate raised Emperor Kougon (1313-1364) at their side and situation seemed stabilized. But Masashige and Prince Moriyoshi survived and prepared next anti Shogunate movement. To divide the attack from Shogunate, Prince Moriyoshi moved to Yoshino area, a mountainous area at the south of Yamato province (Nara prefecture), and asked for the assistance of mountain monks and temples. On the other hand, Masashige retreated deep inside of his territory and built Kamiakasaka castle and Chihaya castle.

Chihaya castle exists at a long narrow hill surrounded by two small rivers. The height of central area from hillside is 150 meter, and the castle is surrounded by steep cliffs. To reach the castle, visitors have to climb over 500 steps of stairs still now, and it was by far tough to siege compared with Shimoakasaka castle and Kamiakasaka castle. Chihaya castle consist of several terraces spread along with the ridge over 200 meters, and even though not large it was sufficient for several hundred soldiers to confine themselves. Considering long battle, Masashige prepared sufficient water and foods inside the castle.

Siege at Chihaya castle

In 1332, Masashige and Prince Morinaga raised anti Shogunate army again. Masashige at first attacked Kii country and let local lord Yuasa clan to follow him, and advanced to Tennoji area at the south of current Osaka city. Rokuhara Tandai which was the administrative office of Kamakura Shogunate at Kyoto city sent the army, but Masashige defeated them. At the same period, at Harima country (Hyogo prefecture) local lord Norimura Akamatsu (1277-1350) raised his army against Shogunate.

Kamakura Shogunate felt it as an emergency situation and sent large force from Kamakura to Kyoto region. In 1333, Shogunte army attacked Kamiakasaka castle held by the retainer of Masashige. Kamiakasaka castle stand for two week, but Kamakura Shogunate army broke the water supply line then finally surrendered.

Shogunate army which captured Kamiakasaka castle next encircled Chihaya castle. Chihaya castle had only several hundreds of soldiers, but bravely fought with Shogunate army of tens of thousands soldiers. According to Taiheiki story, Shogunate army at first made force attack to the castle, but suffered severe damage by arrows or stones thrown from the castle. Shogunate army gave up direct attack and changed to starvation tactics. Also Shogunate army tried to cut the water supply line same as Kami-Akasaka castle.

Kongosan Fort still stands

But Chihaya castle had a well inside the castle, and kept sufficient waters. As Chihaya castle connected to high mountain at backside and Shogunate army could not cut the supply line, then mountain monks supported Prince Moriyoshi brought foods to the castle. Further Masashige continuously climbed down the mountain and made surprise attack to Shogunate army. One time Masashige left man shaped dolls made by straw equipped armor to the base of Shogunate army, and Shogunate army desperately attacked these fake soldiers.

Shogunate army could not fall Chihaya castle with small soldiers by large force, and was fixed at the small valley deep inside the mountainous area. This time Shogunate army suffered from shortage of supply, and authority of Shogunate was significantly ruined. Brave fight of Masashige was recorded as "Kongosan Fort (Chihaya castle) still stands", and motivated anti Shogunate movement all over the Japan. As army of Rokuhara Tandai also mobilized to Chihaya castle, a military vacuum occurred in western Japan.

Collapse of Kamakura Shogunate

Among such situation, anti Shogunate movement rapidly rose all over the Japan. In February 1333, Emperor Godaigo escaped from Oki island and raised his army at Senjyosan mountain of Houki country (Tottori prefecture). Emperor army beat surrounding Shogunate side lords and started to march to Kyoto city. To protect this attack, Kamakura Shogunate sent another reinforcement lead by Takauji Ashikaga (1305-1358), a large retainer of Shogunate and leader of Ashikaga clan. But Takauji suddenly changed to Emperor Godaigo side in April, and attacked Kyoto city and devastated Rokuhara Tandai at the beginning of May.  

On the other hand, anti Shogunate movement also arose in Kanto region, which was main territory of Kamakura Shogunate. Anti Shogunate army lead by another large feudal lord Yoshisada Nitta (1300-1338) beat Shogunate army and marched to Kamakura city, which was the capital of Kamakura Shogunate. Shogunate army which heard their defeat in Kyoto city collapsed, and by the end of May Yoshisada fell Kamakura city and Kamakura Shogunate was ruined. Brave fight of Masashige at Chihaya castle promoted anti Shogunate movement and changed the history.

Afterward of anti Shogunate movement and Chihaya castle

After the fall of Kamakura Shogunate, Emperor Godaigo once opened his own government. But due to the conflict for power allocation and reward, Emperor Godaigo and Takauji Ashikaga became hostile. Takauji moved to Kanto region to attack the revolt of former Kamakura Shogunate group and gained the power at there. 

In 1336 Takauji marched to Kyoto city, and once defeated by Yoshisada Nitta and escaped to Kyushu island but quickly restored large army and attacked Kyoto again. Masashige confronted against overwhelming Ashikaga army at Minatogawa (Kobe city), and bravely fought but finally was outnumbered and finally killed himself. The position and fame of loyal retainer of Emperor Godaido might not allow Masashige to adopt guerrilla tactics as before. 

Finally Emperor Godaigo escaped to Yoshino area and built a refugee government, and Takauji established his own Muromachi Shogunate in 1338. Emperor Godaido died at Yoshino area without returning to Kyoto city, and his line kept resistance against Ashihaga Shogunate over 100 year but finally disappeared into the history. 

Subsequent to Meiji revolution, Masashige was praised for his loyalty to the emperor along with his house mark "Kikusui" (Mum and flowing water). Now a shrine commemorates Masashige is built at the site of the castle, but the castle still keeps simple style of the castle of early Medieval era. Steep steps from hillside shows the security of the castle rejected overwhelming army of Kamakura Shoguhate.


Bus from Kintetsu Nagano Line Kawachi Nagano station or Tondabayashi station, 30 minutes drive from Hanwa Highway Mihara Minami interchange.

Related Castles

Kamiakasaka Castle -First experience of castle siege-
Ashikaga Clan Residence -Residence and castle-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

No comments:

Post a Comment