Monday, October 1, 2018

Kajita Castle -Small but strong castle-

Kajita Castle

-Small but strong castle-



Name: Kajita castle (Kajita-jo)
Place: Kajita Tomika town, Gifu
Location: 35.49817999322599, 136.99256059813257
Type: Mountain Castle
Built: 14th century
Remaining remnants: Stone wall, clay walls and dry moats 

Brief History

Kajita castle (加治田城) is built on the peak of Nashiwari-yama mountain, one of about 180 meter tall from hillside at the northeast edge of current Tomika town. As told in its name as divided pear mountain, the mountain has two line of ridge separated by valley, and Kajita castle is built at southern line of ridge which faces southward, the main body of Nobi plain.

Kajita castle stands between Tsubo-gawa river and Kawaura-gawa river, which are tributaries of Nagara-gawa river, and also close to Hida-gawa river. As Nagara-gawa river is a path to Gujo area and Hida-gawa river is a way to Hida province, Kajita castle is an important one to control both roads. Additionally, Kajita castle is only 5 kilometer apart from the border to Owari province (western part of Aichi prefecture), and if this castle kept by Owari province, communication between central part and east part of Mino province (Gifu prefecture) are easily shut at this point.

Origin of Kajita castle and Sato clan

Precise year is unknown but Kajita castle might be built in 14th century by local lord Sato clan. Sato clan was a descendant of Hidesato Fujiwara (?-?), a military noble of 10th century who subjugated Masakado Taira (?-940) who rebelled at Kanto region. Later descendants of Hidesato named Sato clan and spreads to many places, and one family lived at Fukushima prefecture and followed Yoshitsune Minamoto (1159-1189) became famous.

Sato clan also moved to the middle part of Mino province, and lived around current Seki city, Mino city and Tomika town. Especially the family lived at Nataoyama castle of Kozuchi area and another family at Kajita castle were major two families of the clan. Sato clan at Kajita castle gradually grew to major local lord in the middle part of Mino province.

In Muromachi era, the governor of the province was Toki clan but it significantly declined by internal conflicts. Replacingly, Saito clan which was the deputy governor of the province significantly grew under its leader Myochin Saito (1411-1480), but Saito clan also lost its power after the death of Myochin. Mino province was interfered by surrounding warlords such as Oda clan, Ashikaga clan or Rokkaku clan.

Follow to jumped-up governor

Under such situation, Dosan Saito (1494-1556), whose father was originally a merchant of Kyoto city but became the retainer of Nagai clan which was an important retainer of Saito clan, using plots and overtook Nagai clan and Saito clan by the middle of 16th century.

Finally Dosan expelled Yoriaki Toki (1502-1582), the last leader of Toki clan, and became the governor of Mino province. Dosan rejected the attack of Nobuhide Oda (1511-1552), the warlord of Owari province and father of Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), the allied with Nobuhide and fixed his power. At this time Sato clan belonged to Dosan and approved to hold their territory.

However, in 1555, Dosan and his eldest son Yoshitatsu Saito (1527-1561) became opponent for the succession. Yoshitatsu killed younger brothers who are planned to succeed the leader position, and Dosan already retired raised his army to defeat Yoshitatsu. But Dosan lost the support of major retainers and could gather small force.

Start of attack from Owari province

Dosan and Yoshitatsu fought at the side of Nagara-gawa river, and Yoshitatsu overwhelmed Dosan thus Dosan died in the battle. Nobunaga Oda who married with the daughter of Dosan sent army to rescue his father in law but could not stop it. Yoshitatsu seized Mino province, but Dosan left the will to Nobunaga to hand Mino province.

Yoshitatsu well organized retainers and reformed the governance, but unfortunately died in ill in 34 years old. His successor Tatsuoki Saito (1548-1573) was not so talented compared with his father or grandfather, and on the other hand Nobunaga survived fierce internal conflict and beat Yoshimoto Imagawa (1521-1560), a strong warlord of Suruga province (middle part of Shizuoka prefecture) at the battle of Okehazama.

Now Nobunaga who united Owari province started to capture Mino province based on the will of Dosan. At first Nobunaga attacked the province from westward, but faced strong resistance of Saito clan and failed. Thus Nobunaga adopted indirect approach to the middle part of Mino province, to separated Saito clan from north part and east part of the province.

Leave triangle treaty and turn to Oda clan

Expecting the invasion of Nobunaga, Nagai clan who was an important retainer of Tatsuoki made triangle treaty between Nagai clan, Kishi clan at Dobora castle and Sato clan of Kajita castle. However, Nobunaga contacted to Sato clan and Tadayoshi Sato (?-1578), the leader of Sato clan, decided to turn to Nobunaga.

In 1565, Nobunaga left their army and proceeded into middle part of Mino province. As agreed, Tadayoshi Sato turned to Nobunaga, thus Oda army attacked Dobora castle along with Sato army. Kishi army bravely fought, but as reinforcement army from Nagai clan was stroke back, Oda army overwhelmed Kishi army thus Kishi clan shared their fate with the castle.

However, looking at the invasion of Nobunaga, Tatsuoki Saito sent large army to assault returning Oda army. Nobunaga quickly return but sent his general Toshiharu Saito (1541-1582), who might be the youngest son of Dosan Saito, to Kajita castle. This time Sato army held 2,000 soldiers had to face Saito army and Nagai army held 4,000 soldiers. Looking at the difference of the soldiers, Tadayoshi Sato decided to besiege at Kajita castle.

Victory against Saito army

As Kajita castle is surrounded by rivers and narrow valley, Saito army had to spread their army along the river. At both of east and west of the castle there were fierce battle at the bridge of the river, but Sato army broke Saito army in spite of severe damage. Finally Sato army rejected the attack of Saito and Nagai army. 

As Nagai army suffered severe damage at this battle, Kajita army promptly attacked Seki castle which was the main base of Nagai army. Nagai clan could not keep Seki castle then left, thus middle part of Mino province was seized by Nobunaga at this time. This capture resulted in the isolation of Saito clan, and Inabayama castle (later Gifu castle) which was the main base of Saito clan fell just after two years from this.

The successor of Tadayoshi Sato died in the battle, thus Toshiharu Saito was adopted by Tadayoshi and became his successor. As an important castle which control the communication of Mino province, Kajita castle was treated an important castle along with neighbor Kaneyama castle (Gifu prefecture) of Mori clan. Toshiharu activated at many battles under Nobunaga, and Kajita castle might be expanded along with the promotion of Toshiharu.

Structure of Kajita castle

Core part of Kajita castle is small and simple. Central area is an oblong shaped one of about 40 meter long and 20 meter long, might have entrance on its east edge. This area might be surrounded by stone wall which slightly remain on south side, and there might be two or three story main tower on western edge/

East part from central area might be the front side of the castle, and there are several terraces built on sheer slope. There is a folded path and remnant of stone wall which might be reformed by Toshiharu Saito using the technology of castle building of Oda clan. East edge of the castle is protected by several vertical dry moats.

On the other hand, west part from central area is a combination of simple terraces and might be keep original style of the castle. Surrounding core part of the castle, front forts were built at surrounding peaks to protect mountain as a whole. Core part of the castle is small one of about 150 meter long and 30 meter wide, but considering front forts it becomes larger and secure one.

Sudden death of the lord

Toshiharu Saito well supported Nobunaga and his successor Nobutada Oda (1555-1582). As a flying column of Oda army, Toshiharu fought at every battles of Nobunaga, and became an important retainer of Nobutada who reigned Owari and Mino province in 1576.

In 1578, Toshiharu marched to Ecchu province (Toyama prefecture) through Hida province, and broke Nagachika Kawada (1543-1581), a good general of Uesugi army who reigned Ecchu province. Because of the lack of support Toshiharu retreated, but this damaged the authority of Uesugi army and supported advance of Katsuie Shibata (1521-1583) who faced Uesugi army at Kaga province (Ishikawa prefecture).

However, in 1582, Nobunaga Oda suddenly died in the incident of Honnoji, a coup d’?tat by his general Mitsuhide Akechi (1528-1582). Mitsuhide ruined Nobunaga next siege Nobutada stayed neighbor place, thus Nobutada killed himself and Toshiharu also died in the battle. Toshitaka Saito (?-?), elder brother of Toshiharu, succeeded Toshiharu and became next commander of Kajita castle.

Victory against "Demon Musashi" and afterward

However, at this time Nagayoshi Mori (1558-1584), the lord of neighbor Kaneyama castle (Gifu prefecture) and known his strength as “Demon Musashi”, barely returned from Shinano province then became conflict with neighbor loads. Nagayoshi attacked them aiming capture east part of Mino province, and at first Hida clan was expelled from his castle then Nagayoshi next sent his army to Kajita castle.

Nagayoshi stayed at former ruin of Dobora castle and siege Kajita castle. This time Toshitaka again utilized the river in front of the castle, and once fell into dangerous situation but being supported by brave fight of generals barely stood fierce attack of Mori army and finally rejected it. 

After the battle, Toshitaka became an important retainer of Nobutaka Oda (1558-1583), the third son of Nobunaga who became the commander of Gifu castle (Gifu prefecture). But looking at the conflict of Nobutaka and Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598), Toshitaka retired thus Kajita castle was seized by Nagayoshi. But Kajita castle was too close to Kaneyama castle thus Nagayoshi abolished Kajita castle.

After the disappear of the castle, castle town prospered as a posting town of Hida Kaido road toward Hida province. Now Tokai Kanjo Jidoshado penetrates castle mountain connecting Tokai-Hokuriku Jidoshado toward Gujo area and Route 41 toward Takayama area, and this clearly shows geographic importance of the castle. Sheer slope of mountain makes good scenery of Nobi plain, and also gave courage to the lord to face against overwhelming enemy.


45 minutes walk from Nagaragawa Tetsudo line Tomika station. 20 minutes drive from Tokai-Kanjo Jidoshado Expressway Tomika-Seki interchange or Mino-Kamo interchange to the entrance of climbing road at Shimizu-Dera temple. 30 minutes walk to castle site.

Related Castles

Kaneyama Castle -Rowdy young lord of Sengoku era-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

No comments:

Post a Comment