Monday, August 8, 2016

Funaokayama Castle -Border of sacred valley and human realm-

Funaokayama Castle

-Border of sacred valley and human realm-



Name: Funaokayama castle (Funaokayama-jo)
Alias: Funaoka-jo (Funaoka-castle), Hakusan-jo (Hakusan castle), Tsurugi-jo (Tsurugi castle)
Place: Hachiman-cho Hakusan city, Ishikawa
Location: 36.440549761216865, 136.63345993512206
Type: Hill Castle
Built: 15th century
Remaining remnants: Stone walls, clay walls and dry moats 

Brief History

Funaoka castle (舟岡城) is located at Funaoka hill, a ship shaped one of 50 meter height from hillside at the side of Tedori-gawa river. Tedori-gawa river is one of the fastest river of Japan which flows from the foot of Hakusan mountain toward Kanazawa plain through narrow valley. Castle site if just at the exit of this long valley and top of an alluvial fan which consist of Kanazawa plain along with other flat areas.

Hakusan mountain is a one of about 2,700 meter height at the border of current Fukui prefecture, Kanazawa prefecture and Gifu prefecture. Among high mountains over 2,500 meter covered by deep snow in winter, Hakusan mountain locates at most west thus the closest one from Kyoto city. 

Worship of sacred mountain and shrine

In addition to the prominent shape of independent peak, Hakusan mountain is a source of many large rivers such as Kuzuryu-gawa river, Tedorigawa-river, Shokawa-river and Nagaragawa river then assisted live and cultivation at each downstream area. Because of such reasons, Hakusan mountain had been worshiped since ancient era and regarded one of three sacred mountains along with Mt. Fuji and Tateyama mountain.

At first, Funaoka hill was used as a ground of Hakusan-Hime shrine. The origin of Hakusan-Hime shrine is said at the period of Emperor Suzin, the mystic age, and later moved to the hillside. Later Hakusan mountain became a holy space of Shugendo, a mixture of Shinto, Buddhism and mountain worship, then Hakusan-Hime shrine became the center of this belief and entrance of pilgrim road toward the peak of Hakusan mountain.

At the end of Heian-era, famous generals such as Yoshinaka Minamoto (1154-1584), Yoritomo Minamoto (1147-1199) and Yoshitune Minamoto (1159-1189) worshiped Hakusan-Hime shrine and donated. Especially Yoshitsune Minamoto had a relationship with mountainous monks of Shugendo. and when Yoshitune became hostile with his elder brother Yoritomo, Yoshitsune ran away from current Nara prefecture to Oshu Fujiwara clan at current Iwate prefecture passing Hakusan area and visited Hakusan-Hime shrine.

Rise of different religion

After the fall of Kamakura Shogunate, Hakusan Hime shrine prospered under Togashi clan which was the governor of Kaga province (Ishikawa prefecture). But since the middle of 15th century, Ikkoshu, an active denomination of Japanese Buddhism, rapidly grew in Tohoku region under the missionary of priest Rennyo (1415-1499). 

Utilizing internal conflicts of Togashi family and dissatisfaction of local lords for war expenditure, in 1488, Ikko-Ikki army ruined Masachika Togashi (1455-1488), the governor of Kaga province at Takao castle and captured domination of Kaga province.

But this was a tough situation for Hakusan-Hime shrine. Ikko-Ikki army deprived manor of Hakusan-Hime shrine thus they significantly lost their income. Furthermore, among the internal conflict of Ikko-Ikki army called as "Daisho-Ikki", buildings of Shrine were burnt down and not reconstructed any more. 

Build of Funaoka castle and battle of Ikko-Ikki army

The long valley of Tedorigawa-river became the holy space for Ikkoshu believer, and Torigoe castle was built at the center of the valley. As Ikko-Ikki continued fierce battle with surrounding warlords such as Asakura clan or Hatakeyama clan, to guard the entrance of the valley. Funaoka castle was built at Funaoka hill by Nagatonokami Wakabayashi, a veteran military leader of Ikko-Ikki army in the former half of 16tth century.

Ikko-Ikki army aimed expansion to surrounding provinces such as Echizen province (Fukui prefecture) or Ecchu province (Toyama prefecture) and fought with warlords such as Asakura clan or Uesugi clan but continued unsettled. In the meantime, main force of Ikko-Ikki army at Ishiyama Honganji castle (Osaka prefecture) became hostile against central ruler Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582) and joined anti-Nobunaga alliance.

In 1573, Yoshikage Asakura (1533-1573) who was the warlord of Echizen province was ruined by Nobunaga, but Nobunaga retreated his army from Echizen province leaving former retainers of Asakura clan. Ikko-Ikki army rebelled in Echizen province and once captured it, but two years later Nobunaga attacked Echizen province and slaughtered Ikko-Ikki people. Nobunaga appointed his general Katsuie Shibata (1521-1583) as a commander of Hokuriku region and ordered to expand into Kaga province.

Capture and reform by Oda army

Looking at the pressure of Oda army, Ikko-Ikki army allied with Kenshin Uesugi (1530-1578), the warlord of Echigo province (Niigata prefecture) and former fatal enemy. In 1577 Kenshin siege Nanao castle (Ishikawa prefecture) and fell it, then intercepted Oda army tried to rescue Nanao castle at the side of Tedori-gawa river near Funaoka castle. Oda army already heard the fall of Nanao castle lost moral, then chased by Uesugi army and suffered loss by flooding Tedorigawa river. This battle is called as the battle of Tedorigawa, which was only one direct battle between Oda army and Kenshin.

However, in 1578, Kenshin suddenly died in ill then Uesugi clan fell into a severe internal war. Oda army looked this opportunity steadily proceeded Kaga province breaking Ikko-Ikki army. In 1580, Oyama-Gobo, a main temple of Ikkoshu at Hokuriku region now changed to Kanazawa castle, fell by attack of Morimasa Sakuma (1554-1583), the general of Oda army. 

Nagatonokami Wakabayashi still tried to keep Funaoka castle but was fooled by Oda army to make treaty, then visited Oda army and was killed. As Ikko Ikki believers still kept resistance inside the valley around Torigoe castle over several years, Oda army reformed Funaoka castle into a modern one equips stone walls as a guard of Kanazawa castle toward south. 

In 1581 Kagekatsu Uesugi (1556-1623), the successor of Kenshin, intruded into Kaga province and once captured Funaoka castle but soon retrieved by Morimasa. At this time Torigoe castle inside the valley was also retrieved by Ikko-Ikki believer but also was soon ruined. Because of mopping-up operation of Oda army, it is said people disappeared from this valley.

Structure of Funaoka castle

Funaoka castle is built at the south edge of a ship shaped hill of 500 meter long and 150 meter wide. Central area of the castle is a square shaped area of 60 meter long, faces south slope of the hill. West, north and south line is protected by stone wall and has basement of turrets at each corner. At east and west line there is a small Masugata-style combined gate, directly protected by next corner turret. 

At the east of the central area, there is a inner area where originally Hakusan-Hime shrine existed. On the other hand, at the west of central area, there is a small buffer area connected to outer area spreads across the height. At the north of central area, there is a lower flat area separated by combination of low stone walls and dry moat folded at several point. 

Outer area is a vast area of 200 meter long square continues to the middle of the height. At the north edge of this outer area there is a ruin of gate protected by stone wall, and this might be the main gate of the castle. At the north of this main gate there are another several flat areas currently used as a ground of houses, but it is unknown if these areas were a part of the castle or not.

Afterward of castle

After the death of Nobunaga in 1582 and fall of Katsuie Shibata in 1583, Toshiie Maeda (1538-1599) who was the lord of Noto province also held Kanazawa area. Toshiie respected Hakusan-Hime shrine as a religion replacing Ikkoshu, and rebuilt splendid buildings for shrine. Hakusan-Hime Shrine gradually recovered former prosperity. Toshiie also placed his important retainer and brother-in-law Sadayoshi Takabatake (1536-1603) as a commander of Funaoka castle.

Funaoka castle was kept as a branch castle of Kaga domain, but might be abolished under Ikkoku Ichijo-Rei (one domain one castle rule) around 1616. Now castle ruin is wholly covered by cedar trees, and broken stone walls quietly lies in the forest. Broken stone walls built by round shaped stone walls frequently used for shrines well shows this castle had been the border of sacred valley and human realm. Just at the next of the hill Hakusan Hime shrine lies and receives many worshippers and visitors same as ancient era.


30 minutes walk from Hokuriku-Tetsudo Ishikawa-Sen line Tsurugi station. 30 minutes drive from Hokuriku Jidoshado Expressway Kanazawa-Nishi interchange.

Related Castles

Pictures (click to enlarge)

No comments:

Post a Comment