Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Kishiwada Castle -Bouncer of economic centers-

Kishiwada Castle

-Bouncer of economic centers-



Name: Kishiwada castle (Kishiwada-jo)
Alias: Chikiri-jyo
Place: Kishishirocho Kishiwada city, Osaka
Type: Plain Castle
Built: 16th century
Remaining remnants: Stone walls and moats 
Title:100 more famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Kishiwada castle (岸和田城) is located at the centeral area of Kishiwada city, the one faces Osaka bay. Kishiwada city is at the middke of Osaka city and Wakayama city, and also just the south of Sakai city. Kishiwada area is an important area of communication where Kishu Kaido road, the main route connected Osaka city and Kii province (Wakayama prefecture) runs through. As Kii country was unstable country in Sengoku era, Kishiwada castle was repeatedly involved in the battle.

Build of Kishiwada castle

The precise year of construction is unknown, but it is said that old Kishiwada castle was built at 500 meter east of current Kishiwada castle in Muromachi era. Later Kishiwada castle was moved to a small hill at the coastal terrace of Osaka bay, current place of the castle. The site of Kishiwada castle was separated its north and south edge by rivers and suitable to build a castle.

At the latter half of 15th century, Hosokawa clan became the governor of Izumi country (south part of Osaka prefecture) and held Kishiwada castle. But in the former half of 15th century, Miyoshi clan which was originally a local lord of Awa country (Tokushima prefecture) defeated Hosokawa clan and became the ruler of Kinki region. 

In 1560, Yoshikata Miyoshi (1527-1562), the younger brother of Nagayoshi Miyoshi (1522-1564) who was the leader of Miyoshi clan, reformed Kishiwada castle and used as his base. Miyoshi clan deeply relied on the economic source of Sakai city, the international trading port of that era and had to protect it. Thus Nagayoshi placed his trustable younger brother Kazumasu Sogo (1532-1561) who was the lord of Sogo castle at Kishiwada castle, to guard Sakai town.

Castle against Kii province

But in 1560’s, leaders of Miyoshi clan died in a short time and Miyoshi clan rapidly declined. Replacingly, Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), a warlord of Owari country (Aichi prefecture), marched to Kyoto city and became the ruler of central area. Izumi country was at first held by small local lords separately, but when the conflict between Nobunaga and Saika party, which was the militants of north Wakayama area, Nobunaga placed his relative Nobuharu Oda (1527-1594) at Kishiwada castle as a defense against Saika party.

After the death of Nobunaga at the incident of Honnoji in 1582, utilizing military vacuum, Saika parties crossed the mountain at the border of Izumi country and Kii country, and occupied the south edge of Izumi country. Hideyoshi Hashiba (1537-1598, later Hideyoshi Toyotomi) became the next ruler of central area, but Saika party harshly resisted to Hideyoshi. Osaka area is a flat plain and once the enemy enters there is no natural barrier to stop them.

Attack by Saika party

Hideyoshi used Osaka city as his main base then built Osaka castle and castle town. But in 1584 when Hideyoshi and his army left Osaka area to fight with Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), former ally of Nobunaga and large warlord at Tokai region, Saika soldiers attacked Kishiwada castle and Osaka town, to obstruct military action of Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi placed his general Kazuuji Nakamura (?-1600) as a commander of Kishiwada castle, and Kazuuji well stand Kishiwada castle. Residual army of Osaka city also rejected the attack, but this incident significantly hurt the authority of Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi also had to protect Osaka city and Sakai city by any means.

There was a tale about this battle. When Kinki region was attacked by tidal wave in 14th century, a priest rode on huge Octopus appeared and minimized damage of Tidal wave. 200 years later, at the battle with Saika parties, castle side was outnumbered and became danger. At that time, above priest appeared again with numerous octopuses, bravely fought and rejected the army. The commander of the castle searched this priest, and found an old statue of Buddha damaged by sword and spears. Commander of the castle placed this statue at neighbor temple and adored, and this statue was called as “Tako Jizo” (Jizo priest on the octopus) and became the name of neighbor station.

Expansion by Koide clan

In 1585, after the reconciliation with Ieyasu, Hideyoshi sent his whole army to attack Saika party. Through two month battle Hideyoshi quickly defeated Saika parties and captured Kii country. Once the southward of Osaka area became stabilized, but there still existed non obedient local people and it was necessary to secure this area continuously. Later Hideyoshi placed his uncle Hidemasa Koide (1540-1604) and let him to strengthen the castle.

Kishiwada castle consist of central area and secondary area stand side by side, and two layer outer areas surrounded these areas. The central area is a rectangle shape area of 100 meter length and 50 meter width, and guarded by tall stone walls and water moats. At the center of central area, there was a five story main tower which was large compared with the size of the castle. As Kishiwada castle located at plain area and had to watch wide range, this tall main tower might be built. Secondary area existed at the direction of Osaka bay from central area, and sea side wall was guarded by tall stone walls utilizing coastal terrace. 

Outer areas were narrow circle searated by water moats, and total size of the castle was about 500 meter square. Generally the castle was separated into small areas by water moats, and although it could not accomodate many solders but it might be effective to delay the attack of small army with less soldiers. As horizontal “H” letter shape of central area and secondary area connected by narrow path resembles to “Chikiri”, a toou used for weaving, this castle is also called as Chikiri castle..

Kishiwada castle on and after Edo era

Koide clan served as a lord of Kishiwada castle by 1619. In 1615, at the summer battle of Osaka castle, Toyotomi side army planned to make a preemptive attack to Asano clan at Wakayama castle in cooperation with riots of Kii country (Wakayama prefecture), and attacked Sakai city and Kishiwada castle. Sakai city was burnt down by this attack, but Kishiwada clan stood against this attack. This time Toyotomi army gave up to siege Kishiwada castle and moved southward, but finally captured by Asano army at Kasii and was annihilated.

Later Koide clan moved to Izushi castle (Hyogo prefecture), and in 1640 Okabe clan became the lord of Kishiwada castle. Okabe clan was the descendant of Motonobu Okabe (?-1581), a brave general of Imagawa clan and finally died at the battle of Takatenjin Castle (Shizuoka prefecture) in 1581. As a castle to protect Osaka city and watch Kishu domain at Wakayama castle, Okabe clan kept Kishiwada castle by the end of Edo era. In 1827, main tower was burnt down by lightning.

Subsequent to Meiji revolution, Kishiwada castle was abolished then lost all buildings and outer areas. Now central area and secondary area is used as a park, and a three story castle like building was built in 1954 and used as a museum. Stone walls of central area and secondary area are well kept, and even though not large but secure walls of the castle shows strong will to protect economic area such as Osaka city and Sakai city.


10 minutes walk from Nankai Honsen line Takojizo station or 15 minutes walk from Kishiwada station. 10 minutes drive from Hanshin-Kosoku Expressway Kishiwada-Minami interchange.

Related Castles

Sogo Castle -Failure of restoration of clan-
Wakayama Castle -Dragon on the back of Tiger hill-
Osaka Castle (1) -Symbol of unification of Japan-
Takatenjin Castle -Stalingrad of Takeda clan-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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