Saturday, October 27, 2018

Mochimune Castle -Stormy history of navy family-

Mochimune Castle

-Stormy history of navy family-



Name: Mochimune castle (Mochimune-jo)
Alias: Mochifune-jo (Mochifune castle)
Place: Mochimune-Shiroyama cho, Suruga-ku Shizuoka city, Shizuoka
Location: 34.92513460500866, 138.35905720256378
Type: Hill Castle
Built: 15th century
Remaining remnants: Clay walls and dry moats 

Brief History

Mochimune castle (用宗城) is built over Shiroyama hill, one of about 80 meter height from hillside at the north of current Mochimune town. Mochimune town is a small fishery town at the western edge of current Shizuoka city, famous for the landing of Shirasu, whitebait of various fishes.

Around castle area, mountains prolongs from Minami-Alps mountains directly faces Pacific Ocean and forms sheer cliffs named “Okuzure Kaigan”, means heavily collapsed seashore. Backside of the castle is protected by such sheer mountains, and formerly castle is like a peninsular surrounded by inlets. Even though not so high, but it is an ideal place to build a castle, especially as a navy base.

Origin of Mochimune castle

Precise year is unknown but Mochimune castle might be built as Mochifune castle under Imagawa clan, the governor of Suruga province (Shizuoka prefecture) in the beginning of 16th century, Originally Japanese navy was a coast navy also participated in maritime commerce, and different from western Japan where naval clans prospered from ancient era, development of navy was relatively slower.

But along with the economical development in Eastern Japan and development of Pacific Ocean side shipping route along with the development of ships and skills, the necessity of navy at this area gradually increased. By the middle of 16th century, at Tokyo bay there occurred fierce naval battle between Hojo clan, the warlord of Sagami province (Kanagawa prefecture) and Satomi clan, one of Awa province (Chiba prefecture).

Different from commercial ship which can wait wind for sailing, military ships were mostly propelled by rowing to move at any time, thus it could not sail long distance and not so speedy. Therefore, medieval Japanese navy developed at inner sea or bay, where control of narrow water is critical.

In the peace time, medieval navy engaged in fishery or maritime commerce and also transported supplies to coast castles. Once the battle occurred, navy ships were used for indirect attack such as burning down enemy cities and villages on the coast, or loading small troops at the backside of enemy to shut supply line or make confusion.

Rise and fall of Imagawa navy

In the former half of 16th century, Imagawa clan overcame internal conflicts and grew as a warlord under its leader Yoshimoto Imagawa (1519-1560). Originally Imagawa clan and Hojo clan, the warlord of Sagami province also held Izu peninsula deeply connected but both clan broke in 1537, by the alliance of Imagawa clan and Takeda clan, the warlord of Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture) which connected to the enemies of Hojo clan.

Yoshimoto Imagawa developed its main base Sunpu city and outer port Shimizu area as commercial center of the territory. But Sunpu city is not so far from Izu peninsula even now connected by ferry, and it had to protect this coast from assault of Hojo navy. Imagawa clan built its navy and recruited naval commanders such as Itami clan from west half of Japan.

In 1560, Yoshimoto attacked Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), the warlord of Owari province (western half of Aichi prefecture) with large army. At this battle Imagawa navy might be expected to control Ise-wan bay along with the navy of Ise province, but Yoshimoto died in the battle of Okehazama before sudden attack of Nobunaga and this did not realize.

Establishment of Takeda navy

Eight year after, Imagawa clan significantly declined was ruined by Shingen Takeda (1521-1573), the warlord of Kai province and Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), one of Mikawa province (eastern part of Aichi prefecture) and formerly subordinated to Yoshimoto. Shingen captured Suruga province, but this time Hojo clan supported Imagawa clan thus Takeda clan had to Sunpu city from assault of Hojo navy.

As Takeda clan was a land power of Kai province and had no navy, Shingen hired former Imagawa navy at first. Yasunao Itami (1522-1596), former commander of Imagawa navy, kept his position under Takeda navy. In addition, Takeda clan recruited navy commanders from Shima province (Shima peninsula), where Kuki clan which belonged to central ruler Nobunaga Oda defeated other major lords.

Mukai clan was one of such recruited naval commanders. Tsuchiya clan which became vice navy commander invited Mukai clan and Obama clan from Ise province, and also head hunted Mamiya clan from Hojo navy. At the same time, Shingen built Ejiri castle at the center of current Shimizu town as local administration base and navy base, and also improved coast castles including Mochimune castle as naval base.

Structure of Mochimune castle

Mochimune Castle spreads over a hill of about 200 meter long and 100 meter wide. Central area of the castle is a rectangular one of about 40 meter long and 20 meter wide, which faces the direction of Mochimune port. Formerly there was a small Buddhism hall but now it becomes a small park.

At the west of central area, ahead of dry moat, there is secondary area of same size. This area is used as crop field and entrance is not permitted. At the southwest of secondary area, there are several terraces built over the ridge, along with dry moat.

At the east of central area, there is flat area of about 50 meter long which is used as ground of house. Residence of the lord might exist at the place of temple or shrine at southern hillside of castle site. It is said that the place of current Mochimune station might be the port of military ships.

Fierce battle against surrounding powers

According to “Koyo-Gunkan”, the military tale of Takeda clan, there were six commanders of Takeda navy who had total 40 warships. Around 1570 the relationship of Takeda clan and Hojo clan once stabilized, and Takeda navy engaged in the campaign of Shingen toward Nobunaga and Ieyasu in 1573. But Shingen died in ill on the way of his expedition, and campaign was ceased.

Katsuyori Takeda (1546-1582), the successor of Shingen, continued military actions then captured Takatenjin castle at Totomi province (western part of Shizuoka prefecture) from Tokugawa clan in 1574. But next year Katsuyori suffered severe defeat in the battle of Nagashino, and Tokugawa army started counter attack to Takeda army.

At that year Ieyasu Tokugawa captured Suwahara castle, which connected Takatenjin castle and Suruga province by land. In response to this, Takeda clan tried to send supplies to Takatenjin castle by ship using Kikugawa river. At first it worked, but Ieyasu encircled Takatenjin castle by forts thus it became difficult to supply.

Loss of Mochimune castle with leader

Furthermore, in 1579, Ieyasu entered Suruga province and attacked Mochimune castle, to obstruct the activity of Takeda navy. At this battle Mochimune castle fell, and Masashige Mukai (1519-1579), the leader of Mukai clan, died at the castle. But Tokugawa clan did not have power to keep the castle, thus they retreated and Takeda clan restored Mochimune castle.

In 1579, because of response to the internal conflict of Uesugi clan which was the warlord of Echigo province (Niigata prefecture), Katsuyori Takeda and Hojo clan broke. Katsuyori built Sanmaibashi castle at Numazu city as a naval base of eastern border, 

Next year there was a battle between Takeda navy and Hojo navy located at Nagahama castle (Shizuoka prefecture) at the offshore of Numazu city. Masatsuna Mukai (1556-1624), the successor of Masatsuna, bravely fought at this battle but there seemed no decisive result.

Activity as Tokugawa navy

In 1582, Takeda clan easily collapsed before the expedition of Oda army and was ruined. Suruga province became the territory of Ieyasu, and Takeda navy was absorbed in Tokugawa army. After the death of Nobunaga Oda in the incident of Honnoji at that year, Ieyasu became hostile against next ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598).

In 1584, there arouse the battle of Komaki Nagakute between two powers. Hideyoshi let his Kuki navy to land the army to Kanie castle (Aichi prefecture) and succeeded it, but Tokugawa navy including Masatsuna broke Kuki army on the sea and shut the supply line to Kanie castle. Finally Kanie castle lost the connection surrendered, and Ieyasu could prevent the attack to backward.

In 1590, Hideyoshi Toyotomi started Odawara campaign against Hojo clan. As Ieyasu already followed to Hideyoshi, Tokugawa navy broke Hojo navy lead by Kajiwara clan which tried to assault Numazu city where became supply storage of Toyotomi army. Being evaluated these contribution, after the move of Tokugawa clan to Kanto region, Masatsuna became the naval commander of Misaki area where control the entrance of Tokyo bay.

Survival of official navy of Shogunate

After the battle of Sekigahara occurred in 1600, subsequent to the death of Hideyoshi, Ieyasu Tokugawa who won the battle established Edo Shogunate. By this time other naval clans such as Murakami navy or Kuki navy lost their power under the banning of toll charging by Hideyoshi and ruined or moved to land area. 

However, Mukai clan could survive as a naval commander of Edo Shogunate. Around 1610, when foreign trade with western countries temporally increased, Mukai clan served as a coast guard and controlled Sunpu port and Uraga straight Furthermore, Mukai clan manage Atake-maru, the largest ship of Japan at that time built by Shogunate. After stormy history, Mukai clan might be happy among sea clans which could continue their role by the end of Edo era.    

Now no building was left but structure of the castle is roughly left in spite of cultivation. From castle site, scenery of coast including Mochimune port along with surging waves  well seen, same as 400 years ago. Experiencing tough storm, people of Mukai clan might stand it looking their future ahead of the wave.


20 minutes walk from JR Central Tokaido-Honsen line Mochimune station. 15 minutes drive from Tomei Expressway Shizuoka interchange.

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Pictures (click to enlarge)

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