Monday, April 20, 2015

Iida Castle -Castle connected four provinces-

Iida Castle

-Castle connected four provinces-



Name: Iida castle (Iida-jyo)
Place: Ohtemachi Iida city, Nagano
Type: Hill Castle
Built: Originally 15th century, expanded in 16th century
Remaining remnants: Gate, stone walls 

Brief History

Iida castle (飯田城) is located over long and narrow hill like a peninsula, in the center of Iida city. Iida area is the southern edge of Ina basin which spread north and southward for 50 kilometer over the south half of Shinano province (Nagano prefecture). 

Middle part of Ina basin was separated by tall mountains, but around Iida area surrounding mountains become low, and amount these mountains paths from Mino province (Gifu prefecture), Sanshukaido way from Mikawa province (eastern half of Aichi prefecture) and Akibakaido way from Totomi province (western half of Shizuoka prefecture) gathered to Iida area. 

Origin of Iida castle

Because of this geographical condition, Iida area has prospered as a important place of communication. If holder of Iida castle it works as a bridgehead to invade surrounding nations, and if castle lord becomes defensive, Iida castle becomes to be defended desperately to prevent intrusion of the enemy to Shinano province.

Precise year is unknown but Iida castle was built local lord Banzai clan around 15thcentury. As above the site of Iida castle is a long and narrow height of 30 meter high, being surrounded by Matsukawa river and its tributary, and it is an ideal place to build a castle. At first Iida castle originally used only the tip of the hill, and might be gradually expanded.

In the former half of 16th century, Shingen Takeda (1521-1573), a warlord of Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture), invaded into Shinano province and grasped Ina region by around 1550.Banzai clan once belonged to Takeda clan, but later was expelled and Iida castle was directly managed by Takeda clan . 

Castle of general praised as raging bull

As a castle to guard south edge of his territory, Shingen significantly expanded Iida castle and let this castle to his important retainer Torashige Akiyama (1527-1575, known as Nobutomo Akiyama) who was the commander of Takato castle (Nagano prefecture). Later Katsuyori Takeda (1546-1582), the fourth son and successor of Shingen, promoted to the lord of Takato castle, thus Torashige moved to Iida castle and became the commander.

Torashige was originally a distant relative of Takeda clan, and activated at many battle in Ina region and promoted to the commander. Torashige has both braveness and intelligence and was praised as "Raging bull", and well fought against Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), the central ruler and who seized Mino province, and Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), an ally of Nobunaga who held Mikawa province. In 1572 Torashige attacked Mikawa province and Mino province and made many achievement, including capture of Iwamura castle (Gifu prefecture).

At the campaign of Shingen toward Kyoto in 1572, Torashige acted as a detached force and contributed to the advance of Takeda army. But Shingen died in the ill during this campaign, and his successor Katsuyori kept fighting against Nobunaga but suffered fatal defeat at the battle of Nagashino in 1575. Just after the battle of Nagashino, Nobunaga siege Iwamura castle with large army, and without reinforcement Torashige surrendered to Nobunaga but was captured and executed. 

Iida castle after the fall of Takeda clan

After the death of Torashige, Katsuyori placed Masanao Hoshina (1542-1601) as a commander of Iida castle. Masanao was a son of Masatoshi Hoshina (1511-1593) who was praised as a master of spear, and was later appointed as a commander of this area. 
But when Oda army invaded to Shinano province to crash Takeda clan in 1582, Masanao ran away from the castle and opened the way to Shinano province toward Takeda territory. 

After the fall of Takeda clan, Nobunaga Oda who seized Takeda territory appointed his general Hideyori Mouri (?-1593) as a commander. But shortly after that Oda clan collapsed by the incident of Honnoji, a coup d'tat against Nobunaga, and after confusion Hideyori once disposed the castle then Ieyasu Tokugawa captured south half of Shinano province including Iida castle. 

Ieyasu placed his hereditary general Sadatoshi Suganuma (?-1602) as a commander. In 1584 Ieyasu fought with central ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598) with less soldiers at the battle of Komaki-Nagakute, and Iida castle might be strengthened around this time as a important to protect his territory against intrusion from Mino province kept by Hideyoshi.

Completion of Iida castle

In 1590, after Odawara campaign against Hojo clan, Hideyoshi moved Ieyasu to Kanto region which was formerly governed by Hojo clan. Hideyoshi appointed Hideyori Mouri as a commander of Iida castle again, and after the death of Hideyori, Takatomo Kyogoku (1572-1622), son in law of Hideyori, succeeded his position. As an important base to prevent attack of Ieyasu from eastward to Kinki region, Hideyoshi gave considerably large territory to Mouri and Kyogoku clan, and they further improved Iida castle into the current shape. Castle town was built in earnest at that time.

Iida castle after completion spread over whole part of narrow height. Original castle area is applicable to central area and secondary area, and in front of these area third area or Sakuramaru area were newly added. Each area were separated by dry moats, and water moats only existed at the front side of third area. Total size of the castle reached over 500 meter long, and castle town spread both the root of the height and hillside area. Iida castle had the element of modern castles stone walls and several turrets, but generally kept atmosphere of medieval castle.

Afterward of Iida castle

After the death of Hideyoshi, at the battle of Sekigahara between Ieyasu and Mitsunari Ishida (1560-1600), a chief administrative staff of Toyotomi government, Takatomo supported Ieyasu and made achievement at the battle. Takatomo was moved to Tanabe castle of Tango province (Kyoto prefecture) with larger territory, and Hidemasa Ogasawara (1569-1615), a descendant of Ogasawara clan which was the governor of Shinano province but defeated by Shingen, became the lord of the castle. 

In 1613 Ogasawara clan moved to Matsumoto castle (Nagano prefecture) and Iida are once became public domain. In 1617 Wakizaka clan was moved from Ozu castle (Ehime prefecture), and 60 years later Wakizaka clan moved to Tatsuno castle (Hyogo prefecture) and Hori clan was moved from Karasuyama Castle (Tochigi prefecture). Hori clan managed Iida domain by the end of Edo era.

Subsequent to Meiji revolution, Iida castle was totally destructed except for one red colored gate of the palace of the lord. It is said that Hori clan served police officer of Kyoto city and suppressed many anti Shogunate activists and this evoked bad image to Meiji new government. 

Now central area is used as a ground of shrine and hotel, and other area became museum, schools or offices. it is difficult to trace the ruin of the castle, but beautiful stone wall of Mizunoteguchi gate (former main gate) still remains at the slope between museum and elementary school, and above red colored gate also stands next to the government office. 

Although it lacks almost clear remnants, when we look at the castle from distant place, magnificent shape of the castle hill protected by the river reminds importance and security of Iida castle in old days.


20 minutes walk from JR Tokai Iida-sen line Iida station. 20 minutes drive from Chuo Jidoshado Expressway Iida interchange.

Related Castles

Takato Castle -Final glory of Takeda clan-
Iwamura Castle -Castle of tragic female commander-
Tanabe Castle -Art brings bread-
Ozu Castle -Final winner among seven braves at Shizugatake-
Karasuyama Castle -Castle of traditional brave clan lies in ceder forest-
Tatsuno Castle -Combination of medieval mountain castle and modern residence-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

1 comment:

  1. I moved to Iida last summer and this has given me some good information that I couldn't find elsewhere. Found it very interesting that Iida has a connection with Maizuru.

    Thank you for your hard work!