Friday, October 12, 2018

Anamizu Castle -Ghastly revenge-

Anamizu Castle

-Ghastly revenge-



Name: Anamizu castle (Anamizu-jo)
Alias: Shiranami jo (Shiranami castle)
Place: Kawashima Anamizu town, Ishikawa
Type: Hill Castle
Built: 15th century
Remaining remnants: Clay walls and moats 

Brief History

Anamizu castle (穴水城) is built on the hill of about 50 meter above sea level at the east of center of current Anamizu town, at the opposite side of Omata-gawa river. Anamizu area is a flat area of about 1 kilometer long and 300 meter wide at river mouth, and locates at the top of “C” letter shaped Nanao bay along with Nanao area at the bottom and Nakashima area at the side.

Anamizu area itself is a good port protected by two small peninsulas. Furthermore, Anamizu area is an entrance of north coast of Noto Peninsula such as Wajima area or east tip of peninsula such as Suzu area from its root. Even today Anamizu area is important destination or passing point of trains or roads.

Origin of Anamizu castle and Cho clan

Precise year is unknown but Anamizu castle might be built by local lord Cho clan in 15th century. Cho clan was a descendant of Nobutsura Hasebe (?-1218), who was originally a guard of Prince Mochihito (1151-1180) who raised army against Taira clan which controlled the government in the middle of 12th century.

This rising failed and Prince Mochihito lost in the battle before overwhelming army of Taira clan. Nobutsura was captured in the battle but did not surrender and give information to Taira clan, and being evaluated his loyalty to his master, Nobutsura avoided execution and only was exiled.

After the fall of Taira clan by Yoritomo Minamoto (1147-1199) who was the founder of Kamakura Shogunate, Nobutsura once retired but was invited by Yoritomo. Nobutsura became an administrative staff of Aki province (Hiroshima prefecture), and also achieved his manor at suzu providence of Noto province (Ishikawa prefecture) and named Cho clan utilizing one letter of their former surname.

Survival in turbulent period

After the fall of Kamakura Shogunate in 1333, there was complex conflict between the South Court of Emperor Godaigo (1288-1339) and Muromachi Shogunate established by Takauji Ashikaga (1305-1358). In addition to internal conflict in Muromachi Shogunate, there were rises of former retainers of Kamakura Shogunate, and whole part of Japan was involved into some kind of battles.

Same as other local lords, Cho clan became a group of branch families because of dividing inheritance culture. Each branch belonged to different powers, both for the continuation of clan and their own interest. Under such turbulence, Cho clan lost their territory at Suzu area and moved to Anamizu area.

After the stabilization under Muromachi Shogunate, Noto province was governed by Hatakeyama clan. Hatakeyama clan was a branch family of Muromachi Shogunate who succeeded the traditional family, and became one of three highest class retainer of Shogunate along with Shiba clan and Hosokawa clan.

As a highest class retainer, main family of Hatakeyama clan served as governor of important provinces near Kyoto city such as Kawachi province, Izumi province (Osaka prefecture) or Kii province (Wakayama prefecture). Their branch family seized the governor of Ecchu province (Toyama prefecture) and Noto province at the end of 14th century.

At first Hatakeyama clan stayed at Kyoto city, and sent their retainer Yusa clan as deputy governor. As north half of Noto peninsula was a combination of small flat areas separated by mountains, Hatakeyama clan did not directly govern this area but indirectly managed by local lords such as Cho clan or Nukui clan of Wajima area. As an important retainer of Hatakeyama clan, Cho clan grew its power and Anamizu castle might be expanded.

Structure of Anamizu castle

Anamizu castle is built at peninsular like narrow hill between deep valleys. Central area of the castle is a rectangular one of about 50 meter long and 20 meter wide, which might have main building of the castle. At the west of central area, secondary area of about 40 meter long and 15 meter wide exist at a bit lower from central area.

Surrounding these two areas, third area remains like a corridor. Backside of central area is separated by wide dry moat from another higher point which might be a front fort which controls choke point toward backside mountains. Residence of the road might be south hillside of the hill, and climbing roads passed the valley and climbed to the backside of central area.

Total size of the castle is about 200 meter long square and relatively large in the north half of Noto peninsula. Omata-gawa river flows in front of castle worked as a natural water moat of the castle, and also a good port. Other than Anamizu castle, Cho clan built several castles throughout their territory such as Tanagi castle or Kabutoyama castle.

Taking control of Hatakeyama clan

Hatakeyama clan at Noto province experienced its peak period in the former half of 16th century under good leader Yoshifusa Hatakeyama (1491-1545). Yoshifusa built huge and secure Nanao castle (Ishikawa prefecture) as his main base, and Nanao town prospered and accepted central nobles escaped from Kyoto city. Yoshifusa also attacked Ecchu province where controlled by local lords and Ikko Ikki army.

However, after the death of Yoshifusa, Hatakeyama significantly lost its power by internal conflict. Ikko Ikki army of Ecchu province reversely attacked Hatakeyama clan, and Hatakeyama clan had to besiege at Nanao castle. As Hatakeyama clan relied on the military power of important retainers including Cho clan, gradually Hatakeyama clan became controlled by the group of important retainers.

At first Nukui clan which contributed to the repulse of Ikko Ikki army seized the power in Hatakeyama clan, but was assassinated in 1555 by Yoshitsuna Hatakeyama (?-1594) who tried to regain the power of the clan. Yoshitsuna subjugated the rebel of other retainer and once established his hegemony.

Among two powers

In response to this, other important retainers such as Yusa clan and Cho clan expelled Yoshitsuna in 1566, and seized the authority again. Retainers placed two person of Hatakeyama clan as puppet leaders but they died in youth, and Yusa clan is suspected to assassinate them who tried to escape from control.

In the middle of 1570’s, two strong power approached to Noto province. From south central ruler Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582) which broke Ikko Ikki army at Echizen province (Fukui prefecture) and started to ascend Kaga province (Ishikawa prefecture). 

On the other hand, Kenshin Uesugi (1530-1578) who was a warlord of Echigo province (Niigata prefecture) and praised as god of war, also captured Ecchu province (Toyama prefecture) and aimed further western area. 

At first both power allied to cope with Takeda clan which was the warlord of Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture), but after severe defeat of Takeda clan at the battle of Nagashino in 1575, Nobunaga and Kenshin broke. As Nobunaga slaughtered Ikko Ikki army, Ikko Ikki army allied with Kenshin and tried to resist it.

Siege of Nanao castle by Kenshin Uesugi

In 1576, Kenshin who completely seized Ecchu province next aimed at Noto province and attacked Nanao castle. Tsugutsura Cho (?-1577), the leader of Cho clan, besieged at Nanao castle and strongly resisted against Uesugi army. Vacant Anamizu castle was fallen by Uesugi army, but Nanao castle stood over one year and once rejected Kenshin.

After the return of Kenshin, Hatakeyama army once made counter attack to remaining army, and Tsugutsura attacked captured Anamizu castle but could not fell. In the meantime, Kenshin attacked Nanao castle again in 1577. This time Hatakeyama army also besieged at Nanao castle, but because of plague lost their nominal leader Haruomaru Hatakeyama (1572-1577) and many soldiers.

To cope with this situation, Tsugutsura sent his second son Tsuratatsu Cho (1546-1619) to Nobunaga for reinforcement army. But Nobunaga accepted it but at this time Nobunaga had to subjugate the rebellion of his retainer Hisahide Matsunaga (1508-1577), Nobunaga could not send large army.

Grudge and revenge

On the other hand, Kenshin made plot to other important retainers such as Tsugumitsu Yusa (?-1581) or Kagetaka Nukui (?-1582). Finally Yusa clan and Nukui clan turned to Kenshin and opened Nanao castle. Tsugutsura and other person of Cho clan were wholly killed by Yusa clan and Nukui clan, and only Tsugutsura survived.

Next Kenshin broke reinforcement army from Nobunaga at the battle of Tedorigawa, but next year Kenshin died in ill and severe internal conflict occurred at Uesugi clan. Looking at this opportunity Tsuratatsu entered Noto province and raised his army. Tsuratatsu captured Anamizu castle, and being separated from Oda army struggled along against Nukui and Yusa army stayed at Nanao castle.

In 1579, this time Nukui clan turned to Nobunaga and opened Nanao castle. Tsugumitsu Yusa and his relative escaped from Nanao castle and concealed themselves, but Tsugutsura Cho tenaciously searched them and found then killed all of Yusa clan. Tsugutsura could accomplish his bloody revenge, and looking this Nukui clan also escaped to Uesugi clan.

Afterward of revenge

After this Tsugutsura became the retainer of Toshiie Maeda (1539-1599), Tsugutsura was attached to Toshiie and became his retainer. After the sudden death of Nobunaga in the incident of Honnoji in 1582, Maeda clan was involved into many battles against the rebellion of local army including Nukui clan, Uesugi clan or his former colleague Narimasa Sassa (1536-1588).

Tsuratatsu activated at many battles and established his position as an important retainer of Maeda clan. Tsuratatsu followed the battle of Osaka castle in 1615, the last battle of Sengoku period, and became one of eight important retainer of Kaga domain under Maeda clan.

Today no building was left but structure of the castle remain on the hill which looked down on Nanao bay. Today castle site become a park and there is a memorial built by descendant of Cho clan. Apart from past tale of ghastly revenge in turbulent period, now castle quietly looks small port town.


20 minutes walk from Noto-Tetsudo Nanao-sen line Anamizu station. 15 minutes drive from Noetsu Jidoshado Expressway Anamizu interchange.

Related Castles

Nanao Castle –"Frost fills encampment and autumn air is purified"-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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