Friday, June 2, 2017

Yagi Castle (Tanba) -Brothers of braveness and notorious-

Yagi Castle (Tanba)

-Brothers of braveness and notorious-



Name: Yagi castle (Yagi-jo)
Place: Yagi Nantan city, Kyoto
Type: Mountain Castle
Built: 15th century
Remaining remnants: Stone walls, clay walls and moats 

Brief History

Yagi castle (八木城, different from Yagi castle of Tajima provinece (Hyogo prefecture)) is placed on Shiroyama mountain, one of about 200 meter height from hillside at the side of Katsuragawa river, in the north part of Kameoka basin. Kameoka basin is a long and narrow basin of about 12 kilometer long and 3 kilometer wide, spreads along with Katsuragawa river which runs through Kyoto basin at down stream and merges with Yodo-gawa river.

Kamaoka basin is only 5 kilometer apart from Kyoto city just separated by low pass, and it was an important area for the stability of capital city. Especially north part of Kameoka was an entrance toward inner areas of Tanba province such as Fukuchiyama area or Sasayama area, and also a path toward Sanin region. Because of its geographical closeness and mountainous terrain, Tanba province experienced bay battles between central powers and local lords.

Tanba province was a mountainous province mainly consist of four basins, Kameoka basin, Sasayama basin, Hikamibasin and Fukuchiyama basin. Nominally it was defined as one province, but actually unite dominion did not establish in medieval era. Since the end of 14th century it belonged to the territory of Hosokawa clan, the relative of Murohachi Shogunate and one of the highest retainers, but for Hosokawa clan it was difficult to govern the province.

Origin of Naito clan

Naito clan which built Yagi castle as a genuine castle was originally a local lord of Tanba province. At the establishment of Muromachi Shogunate Naito clan served to Hosokawa clan as its retainer. Hosokawa clan which seized Tanba province at the end of 14th century at first called Kozai clan as the deputy governor from their territory, but this called dissatisfaction of local lord then Naito clan became the deputy governor. Naito clan built Yagi castle as their main base.

At the end of 15th century, Hosokawa clan which beat Yamana clan and seized the power of Muromachi Syognate at Masamoto Hosokawa (1466-1507) suffered internal conflict between three adopted son of Masamoto after his death. Once Sumimoto Hosokawa (1489-1520) who was the person of Awa Hosokawa clan seized the hegemony, but Takakuni Hosokawa (1484-1531) his brother in law defeated Suminoto and became the authority.

At that time Naito clan belonged to Takakuni and kept the status as the deputy governor of Tanba province. But at the same time, Tanemichi Hatano (1496-1545) who was originally a small retainer appointed by Hosokawa clan but gradually grew their power, and raised his army against Takakuni Hosokawa with his younger brother Takaharu Yanagimoto (?-1530). 

Struggle in Tanba province connected to central situation

Tanemichi Hatano built Yagami castle (Hyogo prefecture) as his main base and gradually grew their power at Tanba province. Kunisada Kunisada (?-1553), the leader of Naito clan and deputy governor of Tanba province, fought with Tanemichi Hatano but the situation was inferior. 

In 1533 Tanemichi broke Naito clan, and also let his daughter marry with Nagayoshi Miyoshi (1522-1564), who became the strong retainer under Harumoto Hosokawa (1519-1563) who ruined Takakuni Hosokawa and became the leader of Hosokawa clan. Nagayoshi Miyoshi and Tanemichi Hatano both supported the hegemony of Harumoto Hosokawa.

However, in 1548, Nagayoshi left Harumoto Hosokawa who was the enemy of his father Motonaga Miyoshi (1501-1532), divorced with the daughter of Hatano clan and raised his army against Harumoto Hosokawa. At that time Tanemichi Hatano already died, and his son Harumichi Hatano (?-1560) could not well manage the local lord.

Appearance of brave commander in desperate situation

In 1553 Kunisada Naito who returned to Yagi castle attacked Yagami castle (Hyogo prefecture) of Hatano clan in alliance with Nagayoshi Miyoshi, but reversely lost his main base Yagi castle before the attack of Harumoto Hosokawa army. Miyoshi army encircled Yagami castle fell into desperate situation lost its backward connecting route.

At this time Nagayori Matsunaga (?-1565), who was the general of Miyoshi clan, well gathered the lost army of Naito clan and recovered Yagi castle. Because of this achievement by forced attack. Miyoshi army was saved from the danger of collapse, and  Nagayori succeeded the name of Naito clan and was appointed as the deputy governor of Tanba province.

Since then, Nagayori worked as a major troop of Miyoshi army which continued the battle against Harumoto Hosokawa and Shogun Yoshiteru Ashikaga (1536-1565), with his elder brother Hisahide Matsunaga (?-1577) who promoted by his talent for plot and administration, contrary to Nagayori Matsunaga. 

At the battle of Kyokoji occurred in 1562, the last battle between Miyoshi clan and old powers such as Yoshiteru Ashikaga, Hatakeyama clan or Rokkaku clan, Matsunaga brothers worked as the main body of Miyoshi army and contributed to the victory. Narayori also might have expanded Yagi castle as the center of Tanba province.

Structure of Yagi castle

Yagi castle roughly consist of core areas at the top of the mountain and surrounding fort. Hilltop area consist of three ridges spreads east, north and westward from the center. At eastern ridge there is the central area of about 40 meter long and 20 meter wide, separated by backside area by tall clay wall covered by broke stone walls. There is a gap at the south edge of this clay wall and it might be a entrance into this area. There is a ruin of another gate at the north edge of this wall, which might be a combined gate.

At the backside of this central area, there is a large flat place built at the saddle point and might be used as a ground for residence. From the connecting point of three ridges long lines of terraces spreads over 100 meter toward north and west, and several terraces are built at the valley at south side.

Outside of these core part, outer forts were built at gentle slopes to protect main castles. At the east of the castle, there is a small hill at the opposite of current highway and this hill might be used as a front fort. Total size of the castle is about 600 meter long and 400 meter wide for its core part, and regarded one of three large mountain castles of Tanba province along with Yagami castle and Kuroi castle (Hyogo prefecture) held by the rivals of Naito clan.

Short term glory of Miyoshi clan and death of brave younger brother

After the this battle of Kyokoji, Hisahide Matsunaga was appointed as the commander of Yamato province (Nara prefecture) and became the lord of Shigisan castle (Nara prefecture). At this time, the brothers of Matsunaga clan became the major general of Miyoshi clan, along with three younger brothers of Nagayoshi Mitsui or Nagafusa Shinohara (?-1573). 

All of them were talented generals, and this shows the advancement of Miyoshi clan which promoted generals by talent. In 1557, Miyoshi army attacked Yagami castle and Harumichi Hatano (?-1560), the son of Tanemichi Hatano surrendered. Nagaori Matsunaga seized most part of Tanba province, and the province once stabilized.

However, this golden age of Miyoshi clan and Matsunaga brothers did not last long. In 1564, Nagayoshi Miyoshi who lost his talented younger brothers and successor one by one died in ill in despair, and Hisahide Matsunaga was blamed for this fact that they were the plot of Hisahide.

At the same time, looking at the death of Nagayoshi, the local lords of Tanba province raised their army again. In 1565 Nagayori Miyoshi attacked Akai clan at Kuroi castle, but Naomasa Akai (?-1578), a brave leader of Akai clan later even broke Mitsuhide Akechi (1521-1582), the commander of central ruler Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), totally broke the army of Nagayori. The brave general of Miyoshi clan quietly died in the deep mountain of Tanba province, without the support from Miyoshi clan.

Notorious activation of elder brother

On the other hand, Hisahide Matsunaga still survived in Yamato province, but Hisahide had to forcible policy as the newcomer lacked the support from Miyoshi clan. Hisahide cooperated to trio of important retainers of Miyoshi clan and assassinated opponent Shogun Yoshiteru Ashikaga, but broke the retainers of Miyoshi clan and subordinated to new ruler Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582). 

It is said that Hisahide made three evils killing his mater, Shogun and burning Great Buddha, but it is unclear if they were blamed to Hisahide or not. But finally Hisahide betrayed Nobunaga in 1577, and died by the explosion of black powder at his main base Shigisan castle. Different from his brother, Hisahide left his name in the history, even though it was notorious one.

If Nagayoshi Miyoshi lived longer with his younger brothers and successor, Miyosni clan might establish their genuine government. At that time, Nagayori Matsunaga and Hisahide Matsunaga might be evaluated as meritorious retainers of Miyoshi government together. Sudden fall of Miyoshi government brought contrasting fate to this talented brothers.

Checkered life of pious son

After the death of Nagayori Matsunaga , his son Tadatoshi Naito (1550-1626) succeeded the territory of Naito clan, But before the attack of Hatano clan and Kuroi clan, Naito clan lost authority in Tanba province and barely survived at the small lord of Yagi castle. But in 1578, before the attack of Mitsuhide Akechi, the important retainer of central ruler Nobunaga Oda, Yagi castle fell and Naito clan lost their territory.

Tadatoshi Naito who believed Catholic and named as Joan Naito wandered and later was hired by Yukinaga Konishi (1558-1600), the Christian lord under Toyotomi government. It is said that Joan activated at administration and diplomacy under Yukinaga, but the Catholic banned by central ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi in 1587, and Yukinaga Konishi lost the battle of Sekigahara and was executed in 1600. 

Joan stayed at Maeda clan which was the lord of Kaga province (Ishikawa prefecture) along with another former Catholic lord Ukon Takayama (1553-1615), but were expelled to Philippines by Edo Shogunate and died there. Even though at the foreign country far away from his native place, the end of Joan Naito might be a calm one totally different from his father and uncle.

Afterward of castle

Yagi castle might be used under Mitushide Akechi who ruined Naoto clan, but Mitsuhide newly built Tanba Kameyama castle (Kyoto prefecture) at the center of current Kameoka city and used it as his main base. Yagi castle was kept as a branch castle of Tanba Kameyama castle, but different from Yagi castle or Kuroi castle, major generals was not appointed as the commander of the castle. Finally Yagi castle might be abolished at the fall of Akechi clan in 1582. 

Currently no building is left but structure of the castle still remain on the mountain, with the ruin of broken stone walls. From the central area of the castle a wide scenery of Kameoka basin is seen, which is suitable as the brave commander of this castle. But on the opposite side, deep mountains stand like an obstacle toward the inner area of the province, which kept resistance and finally deprived his life.


15 minutes walk from JR West Sanin-Honsen line Yagi station to hillside entrance of climbing road ahead of underpass of Kyoto Jukan Jidoshado Expressway from the northwest of Kasuga Shrine. 15 minutes drive from Kyoto Jukan Jidoshado Expressway Yagi-Higashi interchange or Chiyogawa interchange.

Related Castles

Shigisan Castle -The most notorious bandit in Sengoku era-
Kuroi Castle -Castle of red devil in deep mountain-
Yagami Castle -Resistance and end of Hatano clan-
Tanba Kameyama Castle -Reason of rebellion-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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