Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Uzuyama Castle -Backbone of the son unworthy of father-

Uzuyama Castle

-Backbone of the son unworthy of father-



Name: Uzuyama castle (Uzuyama-jyo)
Place: Iride Kosai city, Shizuoka
Type: Hill Castle
Built: Beginning of 16th century
Remaining remnants: Stone walls, clay walls and moats 

Brief History

Uzuyama castle (宇津山城) is located at the Utsuyama hill, at the edge of peninsula protruded to eastward at the western coast of Lake Hanama. Lake Hamana is a huge lake of 15 kilometer long and 10 kilometer wide at the western part of Totomi province (western part of Shizuoka prefecture), and to move from Mikawa privnce (eastern part of Aichi prefecture) to the center of Totomi province, travelers had to detour to the north or south coast of the lake. Uzuyama castle places at the middle of northshore and southshore , and it is suitable place to manage both road from Mikawa province to Totomi province. And site of the castle locates at the end of narrow peninsula totally surrounded by lake water, and it is also an ideal place to build a castle.

Build of Uzuyama castle

Precise year is unknown but Uzuyama castle was originally built by Imagawa clan at the beginning of 16th century. Totomi province. At the beginning of Muromachi era, Totomi province was held by Imagawa clan, which was the governor of Suruga province (middle part of Shizuoka prefecture). But at the middle of Muromachi era, Sadayo Imagawa (1326-?) fell into disgrace of third Shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga (1358-1408), then Totomi province was forfeited and given to Shiba clan, the governor of Owari province (western half of Aichi prefecture).

In the latter half of 15th century, Imagawa clan aimed the recovery of Totomi province and started to invade to the province. Before the strong resistance of local retainers once Yoshitada Imagawa (1436-1476) died at the battle, but his son Ujichika Imagawa (1471-1526) restored the situation and captured whole Totomi province by around 1520. 
Uzuyama castle might be built by this time, and there is a record of Renga (Japanese old entertainment by making long poems by many people in turn under specific rule, and used as a method of communication among upper class) artist Socho (1448-1532) who visited Uzuyama castle in 1506.

Ujichika further advanced to Mikawa province, but due to the death of Ujichika and rise of Kiyoyasu Matsudaira (1511-1535) who was the grandfather of Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616) in Mikara province, Imagawa clan once gave up advance to Mikawa province and guarded the western border of Totomi province. But afther the assasination of Kiyoyasu, next leader Yoshimoto Imagawa (1519-1560) won the fierce battle with Nobuhide Oda (1510-1551), a warlord of Owari province, and virtually dominated Mikawa province by subordinating Matsudaira clan to him. Yoshimoto further attempted expansion to Owari province, but was defeated against Nobunga Oda (1534-1582) who was the son of Nobuhide at the battle of Okehazama and died there.

Successor unworthy of father

After the death of Yoshimoto, his son Ujizane Imagawa (1538-1614) succeeded the leader position of Imagawa clan. He was the same generation of Nobunaga, but was a young nobleman of distinguished family, he preferred culture such as Renga, Kemari (ball lifting by several partiipants but more elegant) or tea party than the politics. In addition to this Ujizane had to raise his army against Nobunaga to revenge his father, but because of the loss of high class generals at the battle of Okehazama and burden of former military campaign, Ujizane could not do so. 

Seeing this situation, local lords under Imagawa clan started to leave them, and surrounding warlords looked at the territory of weakened Imagawa clan. In Mikawa province, Motoyasu Matsudaira (1543-1616, later Ieyasu Tokugawa) once was the hostage of Imagawa clan, became independent at Okazaki castle (Okazaki city) and started his battle to unite the province. At the middleway Ieyasu suffered from the rebellion of Ikko Ikki party, but finally Ieyasu won against Imagawa side local lord and seized whole Mikawa province by 1566.

On the other hand, the situation became confused at western part of Totomi province. In 1562 Ii clan, a local lord at the northshore of Lake Hamanako, tried to betray Imagawa clan and was suppressed by Imagawa army. In addition to this, Tsuratatsu Iio (?-1566), an important retainer of Imagawa clan at Hikuma castle (later Hamamatsu castle) revolted to Ujizane in cooperation with Ieyasu in 1564, and Ujizane attacked Hamamatsu castle but could not fall it. Ujizane made a fake agreement with Inoo clan and later killed Tsuratatsu, but the authority of Ujizane significantly declined.

Expansion of Uzuyama castle

Among such situation, Ujizane tried hard to unite his territory and secure the border, supported by his grandmother Jyukeini (?-1568). Ujizane introduced Rakuichi Rakuza (free tax commercial zone) to Fuji Omiya city to improve the economy, and it was ahead of Nobunaga Oda who used same policy later. Ujizane also renovated border castles such as Futamata castle (Hamamatsu city), Kanbara castle (Shimizu city), Omiya castle (Fuji city) or Fukazawa Castle (Gotenba city) as a base for defense. Especially, as a front castle faced Ieyasu Tokugawa, Uzuyama castle were totally renovated.

The shape of Uzuyama castle is a lying T shape, consist of vertical front area and horizontal inner area. Horizontal inner area which was the original part of the castle was about 300 meter long, and separated into several terraces by clay walls and moats. There was a large terrace where residence might be built, and also a path to the lake coast where ships arrived.

Front side vertical area is also about 300 meter long, and was expanded under Ujizane Imagawa. Hilltop area consist of several areas places in line, and was guarded by vertical clay wall fixed by stone walls at its inside. Below the hilltop area there is several layer of terraces surround hilltop area, and these areas are guaded by low stone walls. It looks like same age of stone walls inside hilltop area, but it is unknown whether they were built by Imagawa clan or later constructed for agricultural purpose. Anyway Uzuyama castle improved to a large castle of 400 meter long and 300 meter wide, and it shows resolute will of Ujizane to protect the border. Being told as incompetent, Ujizane made effort in his own way.

Fall of Imagawa clan

But the effort of Ujizane was not rewarded. Ieyasu Tokugawa and Shingen Takeda (1521-1573), a former ally of Imagawa clan but now gazed at the economic resource of Suruga country, cooperated and attacked Imagawa clan from both side. Just at that time Jyukeini who desperately supported Imagawa clan died, and no one could control the clan any more. As Imagawa clan mobilized soldiers through local lords indirectly, thus betrayal of local lords was serious for the clan.

In 1568 early winter, Ieyasu started invasion to Totomi province in earnest. At first Ieyasu got a cooperation from Ii clan, a local lord at the northshore of Lake Hamanako whose leader was killed for the suspect of betrayal by Ujizane. Under the introduction of Ii clan, Ieyasu attacked castles surrounding Lake Hamana including Uzuyama castle. Uzuyama castle opened before Tokugawa army without resistance, and Ieyasu could easily siege Hikuma castle and captured by the end of 1568. 

At the same time Shingen Takeda invaded Suruga province from north. Ujizane tried to intercept Takeda army at Sattatoge path, a difficult place, but because of plot of Takeda clan, local lords under Imagama clan did not fight and Shingen easily occupied at Sunpu city, a capital of Imagawa clan. Ujizane escaped to Kakegawa castle, where still stand by castle commander Yasutomo Asahina (1538-?). 

Ieyasu who captured Hikuma castle move eastward and sieged Kakegawa castle. After five month siege, as Shingen tried to invade to Totomi country breaking the agreement, Ieyasu made peace with Ujizane and let them open in 1569. Ujizane was sent to Hojyo clan which was his father in law, and Imagawa clan fell as a warlord within 10 years after the battle of Okehazama.

Afterward of Imagawa clan and castle

After the fall of Imagawa clan, Ujizane once stayed at Hojyo clan. But when Hojyo clan made friendship with Takeda clan, Ujizane was expelled from Hojyo clan and came to the protection under Ieyasu Tokugawa. Ujizane was once appointed as a commander of Suwahara castle under Ieyasu, but later dismissed and totally became an unfettered person. 

According to Shincho Koki, an official biography of Nobunaga Oda, Ujizane visited Kyoto city in 1575 and showed Kemari play before his father’s foe Nobunaga Oda. It is not written if Nobunaga responded to it and Ujizane felt it. After that Ujizane was feeded by Nobunaga or Hideyoshi Toyotomi, and devoted himself to the culture. Finally Ujizane lived until 1614, just two year before the death of Ieyasu, and his son became a high class Samurai under Edo Shogunate.

After the fall, Uzuyama castle was used as a base of Tokugawa army, and might be reformed preparing for the invasion of Shingen Takeda into Totomi province around 1570. This castle might be used until 1590 when Tokugawa clan was transferred to Kanto region by Toyotomi government, and abolished then. Now inner part of the castle was destructed for cultivation, but structure of front side still remain in the bush. Size and secureness of the castle shows the backbone of Ujizane, who is regarded as a weak hearted successor who brought the fall of the clan.

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Pictures (click to enlarge)

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