Sunday, January 11, 2015

Suemori Castle -Castle of younger brother killed byNobunaga-

Suemori Castle

-Castle of younger brother killed by Nobunaga-



Name: Suemori castle (Suemori-jyo)
Place: Shiroyamacho Chikusa-ku Nagoya city, Nagoya
Type: Hill Castle
Built: 1548
Remaining remnants: Clay walls and moats 

Brief History

Suemori castle (末森城) is located at Shiroyama hill, one in Chikusa ward of Nagoya city. Suemori area is the border of the eastern hilly area and Nagono height, and the site of the castle is a hill protrudes into a plain area along Yamazakigawa river. 

Build of Suemori Castle

Suemori Castle was built by Nobuhide Oda (1510-1551), the father of future ruler Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582) in 1548. Nobuhide was originally just an important retainer of Kiyosu Oda clan, a deputy governor of south half of Owari province (western half of Aichi prefecture). But Nobuhide seized Tsushima port and gained economic resource from there, then he grew to the leader of Oda clan and expanded his territory to eastward, current Nagoya city area and captured old Nagoya castle in 1532.

In 1530's and 1540's, Nobuhide fiercely fought with neighbor warlords such as Yoshimoto Imagawa (1519-1560), a warlord of Suruga province (middle part of Shizuoka prefecture) or Dosan Saito (1494-1556), one of Mino province (Gifu prefecture). At first Nobuhide fought well and expand his territory to east and northward, but later was defeated by both clans and situation became tough. 

Nobuhide made peace with Dosan by marriage between Nobunaga and daughter of Dosan, then built Suemori castle and moved there. Suemori castle was closer to the border between Owari province and Mikawa province (eastern half of Aichi prefecture) where was the conflict area against Imagawa clan. But Nobuhide died in ill in 1551, and Suemori castle was handed to Nobukatsu Oda (1536-1557, known as Nobuyuki), the younger brother of Nobunaga.

Suemori castle spread over Shiroyama hill around 150 meter long square. In the east part of the hill there were two square area from south to north. The south half might be the main area of the castle but now there two area are merged. At the south half of the west part of the hill there is another large area, and north half of west part might be the entrance of the castle and is separated into small areas. These areas are separated from outside by surrounding dry moats rarely seen in the castle at the time of Nobuhide, and might be added later.

Brother relationships at warlords

Brothers of the leaders at warlords were ambivalent existence. As long as they could cooperate, they worked as most trustable supporters of the leader. But on the other hand, frequently they became the cause of internal conflict for leader position, sometimes lead to the fall of the clan. If eldest son of formal wife had the talent and former leader approves it, there might be no dispute. But in case of no, especially former leader tried to choose except for eldest son, there might be a conflict between both parties.

Existence of the clan in which relationship of brothers well worked were Hojyo clan at Sagami province (Kanagawa prefecture), Miyoshi clan at Kinki region, Ukita clan at Bizen province (Okayama prefecture), Mouri clan at Aki province (Hiroshima prefecture), Chosokabe clan in the period of Motochika Chosokabe at Tosa province (Kochi prefecture) or Shimazu clan at Satsuma province (western half of Kagoshima prefecture). 

Generally they were newly rising clans and philosophy of founder still remained in the clan, and honestly speaking these clan rapidly grew and brothers of leaders could get territory and authority even though they did not become the leader. Considering high mortality of medieval era to keep the successor there should be many sons, but many of such clans let sons adopted by subordinating clan, as a method to make order between successors and son to avoid future conflict, and also to directly control adopting clan.

Other many famous warlords more or less experienced conflict their brothers for leader position. Masamune Date (1536-1567) finally became the lord of Sendai castle (Miyagi prefecture) killed his younger brother Kojiro, and Yoshiaki Mogami (1546-1614) also killed his brother. Kagetora Nagao (1530-1578, later Kenshin Uesugi) fought for the leader position with his elder brother Harukage Nagao (1509-1553) and forced him hand over leader position to Kagetora, and after the death of Kenshin there was a conflict between his two adopted son.

Yoshimoto Imagawa won the bloody battle against his elder brother, and Yoshitatsu Saito (1527-1561) at Mino province killed his two younger brothers beloved by his father Dosan Saito. Strangely internal conflict between brothers are not so seen in western Japan, but Yoshishige Otomo (1530-1587, famous as Dosetsu) virtually killed his younger brother and succeeded the leader. And Nobunaga Oda is also included in this group.

Rebellion against his brother

After the death of Nobuhide, Nobunaga succeeded the leader position. But from youth, Nobunaga's behavior was strange from other sons of lords. According to "Shincho Koki", a trustable biography of Nobunaga, Nobunaga hated normal dress and wear loose but flamboyant cloths. Nobunaga made party with his companions and wandered around the town, and ate fruits or rice cakes among the people. By this behavior Nobunaga grew his future loyal direct force, and also the habit that gather important information by himself, but due to this behavior Nobunaga was accused as fool. Contrary to this, Nobukatsu was courtesy and known as brave, then was seen as more appropriate as leader.

In addition to this, just after the succession of the clan, Nobunaga conflicted with Masahide Hirate (1492-1553), an important retainer from the generation of Nobuhide and supported Oda clan in politics and diplomacy, and Masahide killed himself. The reason of this incident is unclear, but it is generally said as a beautiful tale that Masahide tried to remonstrate Nobunaga's behavior by his life. 

But According to "Shincho Koki" Nobunaga became hostile to Masahide's son for the denial of gift of good horse to Nobunaga, and there supposed to be a conflict of Nobunaga's arbitrary policy against retainers. Later Nobunaga built a temple for Masahide and mourned for him.

Seeing this situation, important retainers of Oda clan tried to expel Nobunaga and place Nobukatsu as a leader of Oda clan. In 1556, Hidesada Hayashi (?-1580), the first retainer of Nobunaga , his younger brother Michitomo Hayashi (1516-1556) and Katsuie Hayashi (1522-1583), a brave general and who was the third retainer of Nobunaga, cooperatively raised their army with Nobukatsu against Nobunaga. 

Defeat and death

Both army fought at the place of Inou (Nagoya city), and although anti Nobunaga side had twice soldiers but separately crushed by direct force of Nobunaga, and Michitomo was killed by Nobunaga. Nobunaga sieged Suemori castle then Nobukatsu, Hidesada and Katsuie once surrendered to Nobunaga and were forgiven.

But Nobukatsu planned another rebellion next year. This time Katsuie became the loyal retainer of Nobunaga noticed this plot to Nobunaga, and based on the false information from Katsuie that Nobunaga became ill, Nobukatsu visited Kiyosu castle for inquiry of Nobunaga then was killed by soldier of Nobunaga. 

Nobusumi Tsuda (1555-1582), son of Nobukatsu, served to Nobunaga and promoted to the commander of Omizo castle (Shiga prefecture), but at time of the incident of Honnoji in 1582 Nobusumi was killed under suspect of rebellion because he was married with the daughter of Mitsuhide Akechi (1528-1582) who revolted and killed Nobunaga.

Afterward of castle

Suemori castle might work for another several years, but after the battle of Okehazama in 1560, Nobunaga made alliance with Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616) who became the lord of Mikawa province at Kiyosu castle. There was no need to guard the eastern border of Owari province, and Suemori castle was once abolished. But at the time of the conflict between Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598) and alliance of Nobukatsu Oda (1558-1630, son of Nobunaga and different from above Nobukatsu) and Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), Owari province became battlefield and Suemori castle might be reformed and used as a base of Oda-Tokugawa side.

Now the site of the castle is used as a local shrine, and the shape of the castle including surrounding dry moats miraculously remain well in the central city. It is highly valuable as only one place to preserve the original style of medieval castle around Nagoya city, and also to tell the hardship of Nobunaga Oda in youth.


15 minutes walk from Nagoya city subway Meijo line / Higashiyama line Motoyama station.
25 minutes drive from Tomei Expressway Nagoya interchange.

Related Castles

Nagoya Castle -First residence of future ruler-
Omizo Castle -Father and son purged by plot of rebellion-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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