Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Shozui Castle -Prototype of pre-modern regime (4) the end after slow decline-

Shozui Castle

-Prototype of pre-modern regime (4) the end after slow decline-



Name: Shozui castle (Shozui-jo)
Place: Shozui Aizumi town, Tokushima
Location: 34.13212170846996, 134.52319864187078
Type: Flat Castle
Built: 15th century
Remaining remnants: Clay walls and moats 
Title: 100 more famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Shozui castle (勝端城) spreads over slight elevation where old Yoshino-gawa river corves like omega letter, at 5 kilometer northwest from Tokushima city central. Currently Yoshino-gawa river, the largest river of Shikoku island, flows 3 kilometer south of castle site, but this was a artificial movement in Edo era and formerly the mainstream flows at the route of old Yoshino-gawa river.

As partially remains, formerly castle site was surrounded by marsh and numerous creeks which disabled the approach of the enemy. Beside, by connecting to Osaka bay through the river directly, it was useful place for communication and trade with mainland. Apart from the danger of the flood, it was an ideal place for medieval lords to hold its main base, as long as an imminent attack of large enemy was not expected.

Origin of Shozui castle

Precise year is unknown but Shozui castle might be built by Hosokawa clan, the house of the governor of Awa province (Tokushima prefecture) in 15th century. Hosokawa clan was a branch family of Ashikaga clan, which established Muromachi Shogunate in 14th century, and originally held their territory at Mikawa province (eastern half of Aichi prefecture).

At the establishment of Muromachi Shogunate by Takauji Ashikaga (1305-1358), Hosokawa clan activated at many battles Especially when Takauji was broken by Akiie Kitabatake (1318-1338), a strong noble supported Emperor Godaigo (1288-1339) and escaped to Kyushu island, Hosokawa clan was sent to Shikoku island and gathered local lord, and supported Takauji who restored and marched to Kyoto city from the side.

After the establishment of Muromachi Shogunate, Hosokawa clan achieved Awa province and Sanuki province (Kagawa prefecture) as their territory. At first Hosokawa clan had to conflict with the supporters of Emperor Godaigo in the upstream of Yoshino-gawa river, including Miyoshi clan. But Hosokawa clan gradually grew their power into inside of the province, and subdued local lords including Miyoshi clan.

Rise and internal conflict of Hosokawa clan

Hosokawa clan was a group of houses held Keicho house at the top, and Awa house at Awa province was at the second position. Awa Hosokawa clan built their main base at Akizuki area about 10 kilometer upstream from Shozui castle, but later moved their main base to Shozui castle. As the province had stabilized, they preferred closeness to main land and convenience at trade.

At the battle of Onin, the large internal conflict of Muromachi Shogunate from 1467 to 1677, Awa Hosokawa clan supported Hosokawa main family and contributed to its victory against Yamana clan. After the battle, Masamoto Hosokawa (1466-1507) seized the power of Muromachi Shogunate and finally changed its Shogun in 1493.

However, Masamoto who did not have his own son adopted three sons, it mean Sumiyuki Hosokawa (1489-1507), Sumimoto Hosokawa (1489-1520) and Takakuni Hosokawa (1484-1531). Sumimoto Hosokawa was the person of Awa Hosokawa clan, and after the assassination of Masamoto in 1507, three sons became conflict each other.

Appearance of Miyoshi clan and struggle with old powers

Around this time, Yukinaga Miyoshi (1458-1520) who was the leader of Miyoshi clan, accompanied with Sumimoto Hosokawa and supported him with his army. After the death of Sumiyuki Hosokawa, Sumimoto Hosokawa became the leader of Hosokawa clan, and Yukinaga Miyoshi became the highest retainer Sumimoto. Around this time Miyoshi clan held their residence near to Shozui castle.

In 1508, Takakuni Hosokawa allied with Ouchi clan which was the strong warlord of Suo province (Yamaguchi prefecture), and seized Kyoto city from Sumimoto Hosokawa and Yukinaga Miyoshi. After the return of Ouchi army Sumimoto and Yukinaga made counter attack against Takakuni and once captured Kyoto city, but were finally broken by Takakuni at the battle of Toujiji. Yukinaga was killed, and Sumimoto also died in ill in despair.

In Awa province, Harumoto Hosokawa (1514-1563), and Motonaga Miyoshi (1501-1532) waited for the chance at Shozui castle. In 1526 Katsumoto Hosokawa became conflict with his retainer and significantly decreased their power, and Harumoto and Motonaga looked this landed to mainland and captured Kyoto city from Takakuni Hosokawa. 

Since then Harumoto and Takakuni fought for Kyoto city for a while, but in 1532 Harumoto and Yukinaga totally defeated Takakuni at the battle of Daimotsu Kuzure. Takakuni died in the battle and the hegemony of Harumoto Hosokawa was established.

However, this time Harumoto Hosokawa and Yukinaga Miyoshi became broken, and Harumoto stir up the rising of Ikko Ikki army which was formed by believers of Jodo Shinshu, the denomination of Japanese Buddhism, at the behind of Yukinaga Miyoshi who attacked the retainer of Harumoto. Facing overwhelming Ikko Ikki army, Yukinaga let his son Nagayoshi Miyoshi (1522-1564) escape and killed himself.

Seizure of hegemony by Nagayoshi Miyoshi

At that time, Mochitaka Hosokawa (1497-1553), the cousin of Harumoto Hosokawa, protected Nagayoshi at Shozui castle. Nagayoshi grown up once followed to Harumoto Hosokawa, and broke the enemies of Harumoto by his army. But Harumoto was a enemy of the father of Nagayoshi, thus Harumoto and Nagayoshi finally broke in 1548. Nagayoshi broke the army of Harumoto at the battle of Eguchi, and established his hegemony.

In 1551, Nagayoshi broke Harumoto and Yoshiteru Ashikaga (1536-1565), the 13th Shogun of Ashikaga Shogunate and expelled them from Kyoto city, Nagayoshi virtually established his government, but in 1558 Nagayoshi coordinated with Yoshiteru and became the highest retainer of Ashikaga Shogunate. At this time Miyoshi clan held eight provinces of Kinki and Shikoku region, and the most strongest warlord in Japan,

Among this time, Jikkyu Miyoshi (1527-1562), the younger brother of Nagayoshi stayed at Awa province, purged Mochitaka Hosokawa and captured Shozui castle. From this time Shozui castle became the main base of Miyoshi clan at Shikoku island.

Structure of Shozui castle

Shozui castle spreads over a slight elevation of about 1,500 meter long and 500 meter wide. At the northwest of the castle, Hosokawa clan held their residence at the place of current Chifuku-ji temple, being surrounded by the residence of retainers.

Contrary to this, at the north eastern part, there was a castle of Miyoshi clan at the place of current Kensho-ji temple and southward flat area. The ground of Kensho-ji temple was a ruin of old fort, which was about 60 meter square surrounded by water moat. Even today tall clay wall at west half and whole part of water moat still remain.

At the south of Kensho-ji temple, the ruin of main residence of Miyoshi clan was found under the ground. The residence of Miyoshi clan might consist of several flat areas of 100 meter long square separated by water moat, and at the center there was a main part which held main building and Japanese garden with pond.

At the west of main part, a ruin of meeting room with dry landscape garden which seen at the temples in Kyoto city was found. As it is a muddy area moats were covered by sands, but they were magnificent one of over 10 meter wide and 3 meter depth. Originally it might be a magnificent castle suitable for the ruler of Kinki region.

Sudden fall of Miyoshi clan and collapse

However, the glory of Miyoshi clan did not last long. In 1561, Kazumasu Sogo (1532-1561), the younger brother of Nagayoshi who was known for his braveness suddenly died in ill. Next year Nagayoshi faced the raising of Hatakeyama clan and broke it, but during this battle lost Jikkyu Miyoshi by gunfire at the battle of Kumeda.

Furthermore, Yoshioki Miyoshi (1542-1563) who was the talented son of Nagayoshi also died in ill in 1563, and next year Nagayoshi purged Fuyuyasu Atagi (1528-1564), the remaining younger brother due to the rumor of betrayal. Miyoshi clan was controlled by his retainer Hisahide Matsunaga (1510-1577), and Nagayoshi lost everything also died in despair at that year.

After the death of Nagayoshi, a trio of important retainers and Hisahide Matsunaga managed Miyoshi clan, and assassinated Shogun Yoshiaki Ashikaga. But this assassination raised accuse from the society, and the trio and Nagahide became broken and fought each other. Among this time, Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), the warlord of Owari province (western part of Aichi prefecture) marched to Kyoto city with overwhelming army, and Miyoshi government easily collapsed without resistance.

Slow decline after collapse

But the history of Miyoshi clan did not end at that time. As Nobunaga had to cope with surrounding enemies such as Asakura clan or Azai clan, he did not chase Miyoshi clan to Shikoku island. Nagafusa Shinohara (?-1573) who was the important retainer of Miyoshi clan well gathered local lords at Awa province, and sometimes landed to Honshu main land with army.

However, the talent and power of Nagafusa was feared by Nagaharu Miyoshi (1553-1577), the successor of Jikkyu Miyoshi, and Nagafusa was finally purged by Nagaharu. But this evokes bad reputation among retainers, and along with religious problem, local lords of Awa province and Sanuki province left Miyoshi clan.

At the same time, Motochika Chosokabe (1539-1599), who raised from small lord of Tosa province (Kochi prefecture) and united the province, started to intrude into Awa province from southward. In 1573, Yoshitsugu Miyoshi (1549-1573), the successor of Nagayoshi, was ruined at Wakae castle (Osaka prefecture) and Miyoshi clan lost all territory at main land. 

Fall of Shozui castle

Also at Awa province, Nagaharu Miyoshi fought against an ally of Motochika Chosokabe and opponent local lord, and died in the battle. His younger brother Masayasu Sogo (1554-1587) succeeded Miyoshi clan, but at this time Miyoshi clan only kept east half of Awa province and Sanuki province. Motochika seized Hakuchi castle and Onishi castle at original territory of Miyoshi clan, and accelerated for the unite of Shikoku island.

But rapid growth of Motochika made an antipathy of Nobunaga who originally supported Motochika to beat Miyoshi clan, and Nobunaga changed its policy to Shikoku island then assisted Miyoshi clan through his general Hideyoshi Hashiba (1537-1598, later Hideyoshi Toyotomi). In 1582 Nobunaga formed Shikoku expedition army to defeat Motochika Chosokabe, and Miyoshi clan seemed to survive at the last corner.

However, just before the leave of the army, Nobunaga died in the incident of Honnoji, a coup d'?tat by his general Mitsuhide Akechi (1521-1582). Motochika left crisis situation accelerated his expansion again, and seized many castles of Miyoshi clan. In 1584 Katayasu Sogo suffered severe defeat at the battle of Nakatomigawa just the next of Shozui castle, in spite of desperate resistance utilizing the flood of Yoshino-gawa river. Katayasu isolated at Shozui castle finally left Shozui castle and escaped to Sanuki province, then the main base of Miyoshi clan finally fell.

Afterward of castle and Miyoshi clan

Motochika did not use Shozui castle which was not suitable for defense and broke it. Masayasu Sogo barely survived before the attack of Motochika and once became the small retainer of Hideyoshi Toyotomi who became next ruler, but died at the battle of Betsuki-kawa river against Shimazu clan in 1587. The territory of Masayasu was confiscated, and Miyoshi clan which was once the ruler of Kinki region ended its history both in name and reality, 20 year after the collapse of Miyoshi government.

Now the ruin of the castle slightly remains at Kensho-ji temple, but excavations gradually reveal the former shape of Shozui castle. Only blue water of former Yoshino-gawa river still shows the former shape of the castle which was connected to Kinki region by water and prospered as the western major base of Miyoshi clan.


10 minutes walk from JR Shikoku Kotoku-sen line Shozui station. 20 minutes drive from Tokushima-JIdoshado Expressway Aizumi interchange or Takamatsu Jidoshado Expressway Itano interchange.

Related Castles

Onishi Castle -Prototype of per-modern regime (1) down the river and across the oNstraight-
Akutagawasan Castle -Prototype of pre-modern regime (2) struggle with old powers-
Iimori Castle -Prototype of pre-modern regime (3) short peak and sudden fall-


Pictures (click to enlarge)

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