Sunday, July 19, 2015

Yamazaki Castle -Time to treason (15) after attempt-

Yamazaki Castle

-Time to treason (15) after attempt-


Name: Yamazaki castle (Yamazaki-jo)
Alias: Tennozan Hoji-jo / Hoshakuji-jo
Place: Tennozan Oyamazaki town, Kyoto
Location: 34.90181308555024, 135.67615878096893
Type: Mountain Castle
Built: 15th century, renovated in 1583
Remaining remnants: Stone walls, clay walls and dry moats 

Brief History

Continued from Part 14

Yamazaki castle (山崎城, also called as Tennozan Hoji castle or Hoshakuji castle) locates at the top of Tennozan mountain, one of 270 meter above sea level at the middle of Kyoto city and Osaka city. Tennozan mountain is the south edge of mountains surrounding Kyoto basin, and at the border of Kyoto basin and Osaka plain. 

As Tennozan mountain is an eye-catching one along important road connected Kyoto city and Osaka city, this mountain had been treated as a sacred place, and old shrines and temples such as Sakatoke shrine of Hoshakuji temple were built. Beside this, at hillside Yamazaki town the guild of vegetable oil prospered throughout medieval era.

Because of its location, Tennozan mountain had been involved into many battles, and castle was built on the mountain around the end of 15th century as a gate of Kyoto city. But once Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), the warlord of Owari province (western half of Aichi prefecture) captured Kyoto city in 1568 and became the central ruler, Yamazaki castle once became not used.

Incident of Honnoji

In June 1582, Mitsuhide Akechi (1528-1582), a regional commander of Nobunaga, made a coup d'?tat against Nobunaga stayed at Honnoji temple in Kyoto city and forced him to suicide just before unite of Japan. By this incident of Honnoji, Mitsuhide once seized Kinki region, and tried to establish his government.

However, his colleague Hideyoshi Hashiba (1537-1598, later Hideyoshi Toyotomi) who faced Mouri clan at Bicchu Takamatsu castle (Okayama prefecture) heard the incident then quickly made peace with Mouri clan and returned to Kinki region with large army. Looking at the momentum and legitimacy as revenge, local lords close to Mitsuhide turned to Hideyoshi.

As Hideyoshi approached to Kyoto city from west, Mitsuhide had to prevent the enemy at the narrow flat area of Yamazaki between Tennozan mountain and Yodo-gawa river. Just 10 days after the coup d’?tat, this time Mitsuhide had to face against Hideyoshi who had double size army.

Battle of Yamazaki and end of attempt

Both armies tried to capture the top of Tennozan mountain, but the top is too distant from battlefield and it only worked as watching place. At the same time battle had begin at river side, and at first Akechi army well fought utilizing narrow place and matchlock gunners,

However later Hideyoshi let the detachment force to make side attack, and exhausted Akechi army finally collapsed then retreated to Shoryuji castle (Kyoto prefecture) at the backside of battlefield. 

But it was impossible to keep small castle before overwhelming army, Mitsuhide left it and tried to return his main base Sakamoto castle but was killed by bounty hunting pheasants on that way. Relatives of Mitsuhide died at Sakamoto castle or Tanba Kameyama castle (Kyoto prefecture), and the attempt of Mitsuhide had failed.

Next structure of Oda clan

After this battle of Yamazaki, situation of Oda clan fell into unstable situation. Even though Nobunaga and his successor Nobutada Oda (1557-1582) died in the incident, second son Nobukatsu Oda (1558-1630) and third son Nobutaka Oda (1558-1583) still alive. 

Among the generals the position of Hideyoshi who lead the revenge and beat Mitsuhide significantly rose up, but there were other major general such as Katsuie Shibata (1521-1583) a veteran general at Hokuriku region, Kazumasu Takigawa (1525-1586) who barely returned from Kanto region, or Nagahide Niwa (1535-1585) who was close to Hideyoshi.

Once the situation was fixed, important retainers of Nobunaga including Hideyoshi and Katsuie had a meeting at Kiyosu castle (Aichi prefecture) in July 1582, to decide next structure of Oda clan. Hidenobu Oda (1580-1605) became the leader of Oda clan but was still child, thus Nobutaka Oda became the supporter..

Build of Yamazaki castle

Hideyoshi who accomplished the revenge of Nobunaga gained Kyoto and Osaka area instead of leaving his main base Nagahama castle (Shiga prefecture) to Katsuie. Hideyoshi became the first positioned retainer, but Oda clan was still operated by collective leadership system.

Among such situation, Hideyoshi needed new main base near central area. It was necessary to show the power of Hideyoshi, but also needed not to too much stimulate other people of Oda clan. It was still difficult to build a castle in Kyoto city because only ruler is allowed to so, and Osaka area is impossible as Osaka area might be thought as next base of Oda clan. 

As a result of compromise, Hideyoshi built Yamazaki castle at the top of Tennozan mountain in 1583. It was close to Kyoto city and Osaka city but does not exist in itself, thus it was appropriate to control both city indirectly without excessive impressions. Above all else, it was a place of his victory at the revenge of Nobunaga. 

Structure of Yamazaki castle

Yamazaki castle roughly consist of two layer terraces. Upper area includes main tower basement, central area, secondary area and connecting small terraces. Main tower basement is a small one of about 15 meter long and 5 meter wide, and there might be two or three floor small tower.

Total size of upper area is about 100 meter long and 50 meter wide, and north slope and east slope of central area which faces Kyoto city and hillside road were covered with stone walls. On the other hand, lower area spread at the east of upper area, and consist of several flat terraces continues over 200 meter. 

Main gate of the castle from Sakatoke shrine exists at south east edge, and it is built as a complex gate with folding path. Backside gate of the castle is built at north edge of the area, and is separated from outer area by dry moat and clay wall. A vertical wall is built along the slope between upper area and lower area, to guard steps from lower area to upper area. 

Current place of Sakatoke shrine might be used as a front fort of the castle, and Hoshakuji was used as a hillside residence. Total size of Tennozan Hoji castle was about 200 meter long square, and far smaller than Nagahama castle or Himeji castle (Hyogo prefecture) already built by Hideyoshi.

Conflict with Katsuie Shibata

New order decided at Kiyosu meeting did not last long. Just at the next month of the meeting Hideyoshi holds funeral of Nobunaga only by him own, and impressed him as a successor of Nobunaga. Hideyoshi cooperated with Nobukatsu and forced Nobutaka to hand Hideie Oda to his side.

Katsuie tried to stop the movement of Hideyoshi and send envoys to Hideyoshi to accuse the hold of funeral and build of Yamazaki castle, but Hideyoshi utilized winter season when Katsuie could not move from his territory Hokuriku region, individually suppressed Nobutaka Oda and Kazumasu Takigawa who supported Katsuie.

In March 1583 Katsuie ploughed deep snow and advanced to the border of Omi province (Shiga prefecture) to rescue Kazumasu and Nobutaka, but next month Katsuie suffered fatal defeat before Hideyoshi at the battle of Shizugatake.

Toward next ruler

Katsuie barely returned to his main base Kitanosho castle (Fukui prefecture) and died there with his wife Oichi (1547-1583), the younger sister of Nobunaga. After that Nobutaka was forced to suicide and Kazumasu surrendered to Hideyoshi, then Hideyoshi ruined strongest rival at Oda clan.. 

Now Hideyoshi significantly approached to next ruler, but this time break with Nobukatsu Oda then in 1584 Nobukatsu raised against Hideyoshi in cooperation with Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), a former ally of Nobunaga. Hideyoshi suppressed Nobukatsu but suffered defeat at the battle of Komaki Nagakute. The battle ceased but Nobukatsu who had inferior army followed to Hideyoshi..

In 1585, Hideyoshi sent large army to Chosokabe clan at Shikoku island, which might be one cause of the incident of Honnoji and barely survived escaping attack from Oda army collapsed by the incident. But after one month battle Chosokabe clan surrendered to Hideyoshi and lost the territory other than their original land Tosa province (Kochi prefecture).

Afterward of castle

At that year, Ieyasu Tokugawa still kept his own position but substantially followed to Hideyoshi by sending his third son Hideyasu Yuki (1574-1607). At that year Nagahide Niwa died in the illness, and major relative and retainers of Oda clan other than Ieyasu Tokugawa got off the stage. Now Hideyoshi united the territory of Oda clan again, and restarted unification of Japan which Nobunaga once closely approached.

In 1583, just after the battle of Shizugatake, Hideyoshi started to build his huge main base Osaka castle (Osaka prefecture) at the site of former Ishiyama Honganji temple. The core part of Osaka castle completed next year, then Hideyoshi abolished Yamazaki castle then moved to Osaka castle.

Now no building remains but structure of the castle well remain on the mountain with broken remnants of stone wall. Well decorated but small castle at near but outside of capital Kyoto city shows transitional status of Hideyoshi among the retainer of Oda clan. At this castle Hideyoshi might remind his victory at the battle of Yamazaki, and planned the tactics for next battle to become true ruler.


15 minutes walk from JR West Tokaido-Honsen line Yamazaki station or 20 minutes walk from Hankyu Kyotosen line Oyamazaki station to hillside entrance at Tennozan-Hoji temple. 10 minutes drive from Meishin Expressway Oyamazaki interchange. 30 minutes walk from hillside to hilltop castle.

Related Castles

Shoryuji Castle -End of only 10 days hegemony-
Osaka Castle -Symbol of unification of Japan-
Nagahama Castle -Castle prepared future ruler-
Himeji Castle -Castle of Kanbe and Hideyoshi-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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