Saturday, June 23, 2018

Takinojo Castle -From vertical route to horizontal route-

Takinojo Castle

-From vertical route to horizontal route-



Name: Takinojo castle (Takinojo)
Place: Shiro Tokorozawa city, Saitama
Location: 35.80039728142337, 139.53201381534902
Type: Hill Castle
Built: 15th century
Remaining remnants: Clay walls and dry moats 

Brief History

Takinojo castle (滝の城) is located at the edge of river terrace of Yanase-gawa river, a tributary of Arakawa river in the southeastern edge of current Tokorozawa city. Castle site is about 3 kilometer inward from the edge of Musashino Plateau, which ends at the cliff formed by Arakawa river that flows curvedly toward southwest to Tokyo Bay.

Castle site is near to the crossing point of Kawagoe-Kaido road, which connects Tokyo city central and Kawagoe city north and southward which passes a bit inland from the edge of cliff avoiding small valleys, and east and westward road from Ome area or Hachioji area to current Saitama city. These two roads are exactly the raison d’tre of Takinojo castle.

Origin of Takinojo Castle

The origin of Takinojo castle is unknown and it might be built by Oishi clan, which was a deputy governor of Musashi province (Tokyo metropolis and Saitama prefecture) which was the lord of Takiyama castle (Tokyo metropolis), but also said as been built by Dokan Ota (1432-1486), a chancellor of Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan which reigned south part of Musashi province in the latter half of 15th century.

Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan was a branch family of Uesugi clan, a high class retainer of Muromachi Shogunate and was named as Kanto Kanrei, a supervisor of Kanto region supports Kamakura Kubo Highness, a representative of Muromachi Shogunate at Kanto region. Their main family Yamanouchi Uesugi clan kept Kanto Kanrei position and Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan followed to them.

In middle of 16th century, Kamakura Kubo highness and Uesugi clan broke and made fierce battles, and as a result they divided Kanto region into western half and eastern half, making Tonegawa river which formerly flow at the line of current Edogawa river toward Tokyo Bay. Kamakura Kubo kept western half at Koga castle and renamed to Koga Kubo, and Uesugi clan seized western half.

Rise of great battle in Kanto region

As old Tonegawa river becomes the border against Koga Kubo, under the order of Yamanouchi Uesugi clan, Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan let Dokan Ota to build Kawagoe castle (Saitama prefecture), Iwatsuki castle (Saitama prefecture) and Edo castle (Tokyo Metropolis) along with old Arakawa river, which flows parallel with old Tonegawa river at the east edge of Omiya plateau and built a defense line toward east.

The situation of Kanto region was once settled but in 1475, Kageharu Nagao (1443-1514), an important retainer of Yamanouchi Uesugi clan but could not took the position of chancellor, raised his army supported by Koga Kubo, utilizing the situation where both of Yamanouchi and Ogigayatsu Uesugi army gathered at Ikakko area in the north part of current Saitama prefecture to confront with Koga Kubo army.

As Kageharu Nagao was distant relative of Dokan, Kageharu invited Dokan to join his revolt. But Dokan refused it thus it became the crush of two talented generals throughout western half of Kanto region. Kageharu instigated local lords of Sagami province (Kanagawa prefecture) and Musashi province at the backside of Uesugi territories.

Castle connected Edo castle and Kawagoe castle

To confront with Kageharu, Dokan tried to keep the triangle of Kawagoe castle, Iwatsuki castle and Edo castle, to securely hold Omiya plateau as cradle. The site of Takinojo castle was at the middle of north and southward direct route between Kawagoe castle and Edo castle, and Dokan had to hold this area to make connection of two castles.

In response to this, Kageharu let Toshima clan at Shakujii castle and Nerima castle to raise against Dokan, to shut the connection of Edo castle and Kawagoe castle. But Dokan provoked Toshima clan to field battle and perfectly broke it at the battle of Egota, then fell Shakujii castle and Nerima castle then recovered the connection.

As a result, Dokan could firmly secure the triangle of Edo castle, Kawagoe castle and Iwatsuki castle, utilizing Takinojo castle. Dokan broke the supporters of Kageharu at various places, and also let Uesugi clan and Koga clan make peace. Kageharu who lost their lords and supporter finally lost the battle and left his territory in 1480.

Fall of two Uesugi clan and rise of Hojo clan

Throughout this battle Dokan increased his fame and territory, but this brought the fear of his master Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan against Dokan. Under the plot of Yamanouchi Uesugi clan to weaken the power of Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan, Dokan was finally assassinated by Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan in 1487.

After the death of Dokan, Yamanouchi Uesugi clan and Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan fell into severe internal conflict. Although Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan was inferior to Yamanouchi Uesugi clan but it was supported by Kageharu Nagao who returned to the battlefield, and Yamanouchi Uesugi clan lost its leader at intervention to their territory Echigo Province (Niigata prefecture).

Among the battered situation of two clans, Hojo clan which captured Izu province (Izu peninsula) in 1493 and also seized Odawara castle (Kanagawa prefecture) in 1495 gradually grew their power. Facing the rise of Hojo clan, Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan and Yamanouchi Uesugi clan allied but it was too late, and they lost the main part of Kanto region by the defeat at the night battle of Kawagoe castle in 1546.

Castle connected Takiyama castle and Kurihashi castle

At the period of fourth leader Ujimasa Hojo (1538-1590), most part of Musashi province was managed by his younger brother Ujiteru Hojo (1540-1590), the commander of Takiyama castle (Tokyo metropolis). Hojo clan continued to expand toward east half of Kanto region, and Ujiteru lead military operations of Hojo clan at Kanto region instead of Ujimasa Hojo.

Along with the expansion of his territory, Ujiteru placed his front base at Kurihashi castle (Saitama prefecture), an important place where large rivers of Kanto region such as old Tonegewa river, Watarase-gawa river of Kinu-gawa river met. Kurihashi area is geographically at the center of Kanto region, and Takiyama castle that is the main base of Ujiteru locates at the southwest of the plain.

As a direct route of east and westward between Takiyama castle and Kurihashi castle, Ujiteru used the road passes Takinojo castle and Iwatsuki castle, which is currently separated into various roads. Ujiteru expanded Takinojo castle as an important branch castle which can hold soldiers and supplies, and visited on the way to Kurihashi castle on the way to the front.

Structure of Takinojo castle

As a only possible plan for castles built at the edge of flat plateau, Takinojo castle has a concentric circle structure same as Suwahara castle (Shizuoka prefecture) built by Takeda clan. Central area is a roughly square area of 50 meter long used as a ground of shrine, which has a large clay wall at northwestern edge which might be a basement of main building. Aside of this clay wall, the ruin of four pillar gate was excavated.

Secondary area and third area encircles the front line of central area. Secondary area is a L shaped one of about 80 meter long and 40 meter wide, which is surrounded by clay wall and dry moat. Third area is a 30 mater square shaped one at the northeast of central area, which also has a clay wall and dry moat along with the ruin of the well. Core part of the castle is not so large but securely protected by folded line of clay walls and deep dry moats.

Outer area spreads northeastward from central area, which might be a large one of about 300 meter long and 200 meter wide. Ruin of outer barrier and moat slightly remains or excavated, which has the dry moat separated into small compartment seen in the last period castles of Hojo clan such as Yamanaka castle or Iwatsuki castle.

Afterward of castle

Hojo clan steadily expanded their territory under the order of Ujiteru Hojo and was close to the unification of Kanto region by the end of 1580’s. However, Hojo clan broke with central ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598) in 1590 and faced Odawara campaign by Toyotomi army.

As Ujiteru Hojo was hardliner against Toyotomi government, Takinojo castle became the target of attack by Toyotomi army and burnt down in one day. Hachioji castle (Tokyo metropolis), the new main base of Ujiteru Hojo also fell by hard attack of Toyotomi army in one day, and Ujiteru was forced to suicide along with Ujimasa Hojo after the open of Odawara castle, the main base of Hojo clan.

Now all building was lost and outer part of the castle was destructed by the development. But core part of the castle miraculously keeps its original style, being helped by its limited size, early time nomination as a historical site and usage as a ground of shrine. Good access to the castle shows unchanged importance of castle site, and it is nothing but a miracle such a well preserved ruin remains just 1 kilometer away from station of major railway line. 


15 minutes walk from JR East Musashino-sen line Higashi-Tokorozawa station. 10 minutes drive from Kanetsu Jidoshado Expressway Tokorozawa interchange.

Related Castles

Kawagoe Castle -Place of great leap of Hojo clan-
Iwatsuki Castle -Castle of veteran general who never gave in to Hojo clan-
Edo Castle (1) -Inner area built by talented general-
Takiyama Castle -Expansion and limitations of medieval castle-
Suwahara Castle -Huge moats divide the plateau-
Hachioji Castle -Place of final battle for unification by Hideyoshi-


Pictures (click to enlarge)

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