Sunday, September 22, 2019

Matsudaira Castle -Long journey to Pax Tokugawania (1) from small mountain village-

Matsudaira Castle

-Long journey to Pax Tokugawania (1) from small mountain village-



Name: Matsudaira castle (Matsudaira-jo)
Place: Matsudairacho Toyota city, Aichi
Type: Hill Castle
Built: 15th century
Remaining remnants: Clay walls and moats 

Brief History

Matsudaira Castle (松平城) is built over Shiroyama hill, one of about 50 meter height from hillside in the south part of Matsudaira-Go village. Matsudaira-Go village is a small one of about 1 kilometer square at the source of Matsudaira-gawa river, one tributary of Yahagi-gawa-river, at 15 kilometer east of current Toyota city.

Matsudaira-Go Village is a small one but has rich water source, and easy to defend toward outside only by shutting two chokepoints. Furthermore, Route 301 passes just south of the village is an inland artery connects west half and east half of Mikawa region, and another road runs north of the village heads to Shinano province (Nagano prefecture) through Asuke area.

Having both of good communication to distant area and easiness of defense, it was a good point for small lord to have their main base. From this mountainous small village, Tokugawa clan started its long journey of over 100 years to establish Edo Shogunate and bring peace whole part of Japan.

Origin of Matsudaira clan and Matsudaira castle

Matsudaira castle, which is sometimes called as Goshiki castle, might be built by local lord Matsudaira clan (later renamed to Tokugawa clan at the time of Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1614) who was renamed from Motoyasu Matsudaira), in the end of 15th century. Around this time Matsudaira clan emerged into history as a small lord of Matsudaira-Go village for the first time.

According to “Tokugawa Jikki”, one of official history of Edo Shogunate, Matsudaira clan was originally a wealthy land lord of Matsudaira-Go village. In the latter half of 15th century, a wandering priest named “Tokuami” visited Matsudaira Go village, and became in good with Matsudaira clan.

Tokuami was a descendant of Serada clan, a branch family of Nitta clan and resided at Serada area of current Ota city in Gunma prefecture. Nitta clan was two major family of Minamoto clan along with Ashikaga clan, and both clans cooperated with Emperor Godaigo (1288-1339) and contributed to the fall of Kamakura Shogunate.

Descendant of Nitta clan

However, after the fall of Kamakura Shogunate, Takauji Ashikaga (1305-1358) left the Emperor and established his own Muromachi Shogunate. On the other hand, Yoshisada stayed at Emperor side then fought against Takauji as the leader of Emperor’s army, but lost several battles and finally died in the battle in Hokuriku region,

Serada clan also belonged to the Emperor and supported Prince Muneyoshi who fought at Shinano province (Nagano prefecture) against Ashikaga army. But Prince Muneyoshi could not reverse the dominance of Ashikaga army and died in ill in the province. According to the tale Prince Yukiyoshi, son of Prince Muneyoshi, continued his resistance but finally died in the battle in the end of 14th century.

Serada clan accompanied the prince lost many people at this defeat, but one of the clan named Arichika Serada escaped to Mikawa province across the mountain then became the monk to escape from chase of Shogunate army. Arichika and his son studied at the temple then wandered and visited Shomyoji temple at current Hekinan city. After the death of Arichika, his son Chikauji named as Tokuami and visited Matsudaira Go village.

Unsolved mystery of origin

Leader of Matsudaira clan highly evaluated Tokuami, then let his only daughter marry with Tokuami, Tokuami ceased to be a priest and became the leader of Matsudaira clan
Chikauji built Matsudaira castle to defend the entrance of the valley and control the communication on the road. Under Chikauji Matsudaira clan turned into local lord and expands territory into neighbor village.

But the preciseness of this story is low. As later Matsudaira clan hoped to be appointed as the governor of Mikawa province (western half of Aichi prefecture) or Shogun, they needed to be a descendant of Minamoto clan, which formed Kamakura Shogunate and Muromachi Shogunate. It is though that one of Serada clan actually ran into Mikawa province, then Matsudaira clan might intentionally connect their origin of this Serada clan.

It is also unknown if Chikauji Matsudaira existed. There might be a model of Chikauji who actually came to Mikawa province and took over Matsudaira clan, or it was totally a creation by Matsudaira clan. As an ancestor of Shogunate it was impossible to study during Edo era, and even now there is only quite limited information.

Structure of Matsudaira castle

Matsudaira castle s built over the hill spreads over 200 meter east and westward. Central area of the castle is oblong shaped one of about 30 meter long and 15 meter wide at the peak of the hill. West side of central area is a backside of the castle connected to backside mountains, but this part is securely protected by sheer wall and dry moat.

At the east of central area, secondary area, third area and fourth area are built over gently going down slope. Each area does not have clay wall but well shaped to flat and connected each other by narrow path. At the tip of the hill there is a basement of watchtower used to monitor the road and attack the enemy try to enter the village.

At the middle of south slope there is a line of horizontal dry moat with Masugata style complex gate. There is same type horizontal dry moat at the north slope, and these horizontal dry moats are newer structure seen on and after 1570. Around this time Tokugawa clan fought against Takeda clan, the warlord of Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture) who seized Nagashino castle of Shinshiro area.

As Takeda army had excellent mobility in mountainous area, it was necessary to prepare the sudden attack of Takeda army from Shinshiro area using current Route 302. At this time Tokugawa clan strengthened castles of Matsudaira Go area such as Matsudaira castle, Ogyu castle and Matusdaira Joyama castle, to protect their home land and intrusion into Okazaki plain from northward.

Afterward of castle

Throughout 16th century, the main family of Matsudaira clan moved their main base along with the expansion of territory, and kept small branch family as the lord of their home land. In 1590, Tokugawa clan was once moved to Kanto region by Toyotomi government, and they lost Mikawa province including their homeland Matsudaira Go village after 100 year administration. By this time Matsudaira castle was abolished.

But in 1613, Edo Shogunate placed the person of former Matsudaira clan to Matsudaira Go village at former territory. Even though having quite small territory, this Matsudaira clan was treated with respect as the origin of Shogunate. They built Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine at former place of residence of Matsudaira clan, to memorial Ieyasu Tokugawa and Matsudaira clan.

Today all building was lost but structure of the castle well remain on the hill. The castle itself is an ordinary castle of the age and does not have anything evokes great accomplishment of Matsudaira clan 100 year after But remnants exist here and there of the valley slightly shows this small village was the starting point of Tokugawa clan toward unification of Japan.

Continue to Part 2


20 minutes drive from Tokai-Hokuriku Jidoshado Expressway Toyota-Matsudaira interchange.

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Pictures (click to enlarge)

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