Sunday, July 21, 2019

Hikida Castle -Time to treason (4) withdrawal battle and chase battle-

Hikida Castle

-Time to treason (4) withdrawal battle and chase battle-



Name: Hikida castle (Hikida-jo)
Alias: Hikita-jo (Hikita castle)
Place: Hikita Tsuruga city, Fukui
Location: 35.59994594268141, 136.0990231100962
Type: Hill Castle
Built: Around 1480
Remaining remnants: Clay walls, stone walls and moats 

Brief History

Continued from Part 3

Hikida castle (疋壇城) is located at small flat area between Shonokawa river and mountains at Hikita area where about 10 kilometer is south from current Tsuruga city. Hikita area is an important place of communication where Shiotsu Kaido road and Nishi Omiji Road both connect Biwako area and Tsuruga area meet/

Biwako area and Tsuruga area is separated by Nosaka mountains, and before the development of Tochinoko-Toge road which directly connected Biwako area and Fukui basin, both are was connected only passing Hikita area. Thus Hikita area was important as an entrance into Echizen province (Fukui prefecture) and Hokuriku region, and gate of both areas.

Origin of Hikida castle

Hikida castle was built by Hikida clan which was the retainer of Asakura clan, the warlord of Echizen province around 1480. Asakura clan was originally a retainer of Shiba clan, the governor of Echizen province, but under its leader Takakage Asakura (1428-1481) they grew their power utilizing the conflict between the governor and deputy governor.

Furthermore, at the battle of Onin occurred at capital Kyoto city from 1467 to 1478, Asakura clan at first activated at the core of West Army lead by Yamana clan but later turned to East Army under Hosokawa clan, and after the battle utilizing the authority of Hosokawa clan which became the highest power of Muromachi Shogunate, Asakura clan captured Echizen province by themselves.

But former governor Shiba clan and deputy governor Kai clan still resisted against Asakura clan in connection with external power, and expedition of Shogun against Asakura clan was expected. Therefore Asakura clan built Hikida castle to protect Echizen province from external power.

Structure of Hikida castle

Structure of Hikida castle has two layer one. Inner area is a rectangular one of about 100 meter long and 50 meter wide, which is wholly surrounded by dry moat and clay wall. Clay wall of southern line is relatively wide and there might be main building of the castle, and clay wall is partially covered by stone walls consist of round stones.

The shape of outer area has disappeared by cultivation but it might be a rectangular one of about 300 meter long and 150 meter wide wholly surrounds inner area. The western line of the area faces backside mountain might be protected by dry moat but it disappeared by the construction of railroad.

According to old record, as Hikida castle itself is not suitable for defense at flat space, there were three outer forts at east, south and west, where is the direction of two roads toward Omi province. Advanced structure of the castle and forts shows the importance of Hikita area for Asakura clan.

Peacetime and its end of Asakura clan

At the beginning of 16th century, Asakura clan beat all of legacy powers and Ikko Ikki army then the situation of Asakura clan had stabilized for 50 years. Asakura clan enjoyed prosperity outside of turbulence at neighbor area, and their capital Ichijodani city was praised as little Kyoto.
However in 1565, Yoshiaki Ashikaga (1537-1597), the younger brother of Yoshiteru Ashikaga (1536-1565), an assassinated 13rd Shogun of Muromachi Shogunate, exiled to Echizen province. Asakura clan was asked for assistance to the return of Yoshiteru, but Asakura clan which lost its great general Soteki Asakura (1477-1555) could not make long expedition anymore.

In the mean time, being coordinated by Mitsuhide Akechi (1528-1582) who lost his own castle and stayed at Echizen province, Yoshiaki moved to Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), the warlord of Owari province (western half of Aichi prefecture) who has a large army and aim for Kyoto capital. In 1568 Nobunaga marched to Kyoto city and placed Yoshiaki to 15th Shogun.

Invasion of Nobunaga to Asakura clan

Mitsuhide at first served to both of Nobunaga and Yoshiaki, but later Nobunaga aimed his own authority became to break with Yoshiaki. At the same time Nobunaga ordered Yoshikage Asakura to visit Kyoto city and follow to Nobunaga under the name of Yoshiaki, but Yoshikage declined this order as Asakura clan and Oda clan was originally same level retainer of Shiba clan.

In April 1570, Nobunaga raised his army to attack Asakura clan which did not show the will to follow. Nobunaga lead large army, and as Mitsuhide Akechi formerly lived in Asakura territory and knew the situation, Mitsuhide lead the army as a vanguard. Overwhelming Oda army fell Hikida castle and Kanegasaki castle (Fukui prefecture) and captured Tsuruga basin, and was about to intrude into Fukui basin.

However, at this point, Nagamasa Azai (1545-1573), the lord of Odani castle (Shiga prefecture) and brother in law of Nobunaga, turned to Asakura clan and shut the backward of Oda army. Formerly Azai clan was helped by Asakura clan, and Nobunaga mentioned not to attack Asakura clan but broke thus Azai clan left Nobunaga.

Tough withdrawal battle

Hearing the betrayal of Nagamasa Azai, Nobunaga decided to withdraw toward Kyoto city. But even though once broken, the fierce chase of Asakura army. As Mitsuhide served vanguard and it is necessary to prevent confusion by changing order of the army. Mitsuhide continuously served as the rear guard of the retreating army.

To avoid being chased at narrow mountainous road long time from both of Asakura army and Azai army, Nobunaga once moved to Wakasa province (western part of Fukui prefecture) then headed to Kyoto city through Kutsuki area. Mitsuhide fought at the tale of the army with his colleague Hideyoshi Hashiba (1537-1598, later Hideyoshi Toyotomi), and stroke back chasing Asakura army by his matchlock gun tactics.

Being supported by brave fight of Mitsuhide and Hideyoshi, most part of Oda army could return to Kyoto city, and this battle is praised as "Kanegasaki no Nokikuchi (withdrawal from Kanegasaki). In June Nobunaga who restored the army broke Asakura army and Azai army at the battle of Anegawa, but the front came to a deadlock by desperate resistance of Azai clan.

Chase and destroy of Asakura army

Three year later, after the death of Shingen Takeda (1521-1573), the warlord of Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture) who invaded into Oda territory, Nobunaga decided to ruin both of Asakura clan and Azai clan. Nobunaga assaulted Asakura army stayed at the north of Odani castle, and Yoshikage Asakura decided to withdraw to Echizen province.

At this time Asakura clan recovered Hikida castle, and Yoshikage tried to escape to Hikida castle to restore his army. But Asakura army was chased at narrow mountainous road long time, and without organized resistance it was thoroughly broken by Oda army losing many generals and soldiers.

Yoshikage Asakura barely returned to Ichijodani castle but no more resist against Nobunaga, then escaped to Ono area managed by his cousin but was assassinated there. The commander of Hikida castle also died in the battle, and Hikida castle was abolished after the battle.

Afterward of castle

Nobunaga who seized Echizen province left Mitsuhide Akechi, Hideyoshi Kinoshita and Kazumasu Takigawa (1525-1586), to manage the province temporary. And once the situation is fixed, three generals including Mitsuhide returned to their territory. But soon after that Ikko Ikki army resisted against Nobunaga, and once captured the province.

In 1575, after the break of Takeda army at the battle of Nagashino, Nobunaga attacked Echizen province held by Ikko Ikki army again. Ikko Ikki army besieged mountain castle and did not use Hikida castle, then Nobunaga easily entered into Tsuruga area. Again this time Mitsuhide and Hideyoshi broke the enemy as the vanguard and seized Echizen province in the half month.

Nobunaga appointed Katsuie Shibata (1521-1583) as the lord of Echizen province. Katsuie newly developed current Hokkoku Kaido road to connect Omi province and Echizen province directly, thus Hikida castle was not used any more.

Now no building remains but structure of the castle roughly remain among the farms and houses. The location of castle between railroad and national road straightly shows that this point still artery of communication. Instead of soldiers passed this castle in the old time, now cars and trains comes and goes through this narrow valley.

Continue to Part 5


20 minutes walk from JR West Hokuriku Honsen line Shin Hikita station. 30 minutes drive from Hokuriku Jidoshado Expressway Tsuruga interchange.

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Pictures (click to enlarge)

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