Friday, August 7, 2020

Konodai Castle -History of peninsular brave (6) two time defeats at same battlefield-

Konodai Castle

-History of peninsular brave (6) two time defeats at same battlefield-



Name: Konodai castle (Konodai-jo)
Alias: Ichikawa-jo (Ichikawa-castle)
Place: Konodai Ichikawa city, Chiba
Location: 35.74709349182807, 139.9007651768546
Type: Hill Castle
Built: 1479
Remaining remnants: Clay walls and dry moats 

Brief History

Continued from Part 5

Konodai castle (国府台城) exists Konodai area, a peninsular like plateau of 20 meter height, about 3 kilometer long and 600 meter width at the east side of current Edo-gawa river. Castle site is a small peninsular like plateau of about 600 meter long and 150 meter wide, separated from the main body of the plateau by small valley.

Konodai area is a southwestern corner of Shimousa Daichi plateau, which spreads over the north part of Chiba prefecture. Between Konodai area and Ueno area of Tokyo metropolis, now flat land of Sumida ward of Katsushika ward spreads. But prior to land reclamation and change of Tone-gawa river toward east, this area was a wide range river area where Tone-gawa river, Ara-kawa river or Sumida-gawa river flowed intertwined.

Especially Tone-gawa river, the largest river of Kanto region now flows eastward toward Choshi area, originally flows southward along the line of current Edo-gawa river, literally separating Kanto region into western half and eastern half. Now Edo-gawa river is narrower than Ara-kawa river but still divides Tokyo metropolis and Chiba prefecture as before.

History of Ichikawa castle

Currently Konodai area is far from coast line, but before land reclamation a large inlet spread from Tokyo bay toward current Keisei line between Sumida-gawa river and Naka-gawa river. A solid road between Musashino height and Shimousa height was a line between Ueno area and Konodai area, and Konodai area was exactly an entrance into Boso peninsula at bayside.

Konodai castle might be originally built as Ichikawa castle, in the place of the temple at the southeastern corner of plateau by Chiba clan. Current Route 14 area was a sand bank of coast line, and between the plateau and sand bank there was Ichikawa port. Ichikawa castle might be built to control this Ichikawa port.

In 1456, Chiba clan fell into internal conflict and Sanetane Chiba (1442-1466), who was expelled from his main base Chiba castle (Chiba prefecture) by his relative Makuwari clan, besieged at Ichikawa castle. Sanetane Chiba was supported by Muromachi Shogunate, but was broken by Yanada clan which was the retainer of Koga Kubo Highness thus Sanetane Chiba left Ichikawa castle. After the battle Ichikawa castle and Ichikawa port declined. 

Build of Konodai castle

20 years later, Yoritane Chiba (1446-1494), younger brother of Sanetane Chiba, intruded into Shimousa province (north part of Chiba prefecture) under the support of Dokan Ota (1432-1486), an excellent general and retainer of Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan. Dokan built Edo castle at east edge of Musashino height, and it worked as a bridgehead from Musashi province (Tokyo metropolis) toward Boso peninsula.

Dokan crossed river area between two provinces then landed on Konodai plateau. Dokan had a military camp at Konodai, then turned his army toward northeast and broke Noritane Chiba (1459?-1521?) who took over the leader of Chiba clan at the battle of Sakaine.

Dokan once retreated to Edo castle, but next year Suketada Ota (?-1479), the younger brother of Dokan, marched to Shimousa province chasing Noritane Chiba who ran to Usui castle (Chiba prefecture). Considering long excursion, Suketada Ota built Konodai castle as a forefront base connected to his main base Edo castle. Konodai castle was built at west edge of the plateau this time to face with Edo castle.

Suketada Ota once fell Usui castle, but facing the counter attack from Noritane Chiba he tried to retreat from Usui castle but died in the battle. Noritane Chiba became the leader of Chiba clan by his power, and expanded his territory around Shimousa province. Konodai castle was seized by Chiba clan, as the western border castle of their territory.

Structure of Konodai castle

Central area of Konodai castle is a rectangular shaped terrace of about 100 meter long and 30 meter width, Except for the west line directly faces the river, remaining three lines are protected by clay wall and dry moat. Outside of dry moat, outer are surrounds central area also protected by the line of clay wall.

At the north of central area, castle area might spread northward along with the plateau but this are becomes ground of residence and no remnants remains. As this part is relatively safe being surrounded by sheer slope, this area might be used as a camping and storage space.

Contrary to this, southeast part of central area is a weak point of the castle connecting to the main body of plateau. This area might have outer area with clay wall and dry moat for separation, but due to the construction of former Japanese army hospital remnants of this part was lost. Probably the road surrounds the park and temple might be the line of dry moat.

Confrontation of Hojo clan and Oyumi Kubo Highness

In 15th century, Chiba clan significantly lost their power by continuous internal conflicts, and Shimousa province became the target of struggle by external power. Hojo clan which was the warlord of Sagami province (Kanagawa prefecture) captured Edo castle in 1524, then controlled west half coast of Tokyo bay and aimed further expansion toward east half of the bay.

Contrary to this, Yoshiaki Ashikaga (?-1538), who was the younger brother of Koga Kubo Highness and turned to Oyumi Kubo Highness, held east half of the bay accompanied by Mariyatsu Takeda clan of Kazusa province and Satomi clan of Awa province then hoped to be a ruler of Kanto region under his bloodline from Muromachi Shogunate.

Upon the internal conflict of Mariyatsu Takeda clan, Hojo clan and Koga Kubo Highness supported opponent side of Yoshiaki Ashikaga. Furthermore, expansion of Hojo clan reached the border of Musashi province and Shimousa province, then Yoshiaki Ashikaga began to feel the threat of Hojo clan.

First battle of Konodai

In 1538, Yoshiaki Ashikaga decided to fight with Hojo army and entered Konodai castle with 10,000 soldiers, leading Mariyatsu Takeda clan and Satomi clan. In response to this, Ujitsuna Hojo (1487-1541), the leader of Hojo clan, gathered 20,000 soldiers at Edo castle. Both army faced at the both side of river area and waited for the movement.

Yoshiaki Ashikaga too much trusted his authority insisted to lead the army as a vanguard. But Yoshitaka Satomi (1507-1574), the leader of Satomi clan, thought this reckless then retreated his army to backside of the battlefield, preparing for the attack from backside. 

During this time Hojo army pretended to attack Konodai castle but detoured northward the landed to Sagamidai area, current place of Seitoku University. Being tricked, furious Yoshiaki Ashikaga charged into Hojo army but gradually outnumbered by Hojo army. Hearing the news of the death of his relative, Yoshiaki bravely fought but also died in the battle.

Result of first battle

Satomi army was apart from battlefield then retreated keeping the army. Now the ambition of Yoshiaki Ashikaga disappeared, then Hojo clan once expanded their power into the territory of Mariyatsu Takeda clan. But it was still too far for Hojo clan then Yoshitaka Satomi ruined remaining Mariyatsu Takeda clan and captured whole part of Kazusa province.

This first battle of Konodai was a point of leap for Satomi clan. Oyumi Kubo Highness which had significant high authority and a qualification to order Satomi clan disappeared with Mariyatsu Takeda clan, the strong rival of Satomi clan. Satomi clan preserved their army could expand into Kazusa province that missed Oyumi Kubo Highness and Mariyatsu Takeda clan. Satomi clan is recorded as loser of first battle but substantially a winner, along with true winner Hojo clan.

After the first battle, Konodai castle was held by Takagi clan which was lord of Kogane castle and the important retainer of Hara clan, which was a virtual leader of Chiba clan. On the other hand, Satomi clan which held Kazusa province suppressed local lords of Shimousa province such as Hara clan or Sakai clan, and tried to expand westward like Oyumi Kubo Highness.

Confrontation of Hojo clan and Satomi clan

In 1560 and 1561, Kenshin Uesugi (1530-1578), the warlord of Echigo province (Niigata prefecture) and who protected Norimasa Uesugi (1523-1579), who was Kanto Kanrei but was expelled from Kozuke province (Gunma prefecture) by Hojo clan, intruded into Kanto region against Hojo clan.

Kenshin could not fall Odawara castle (Kanagawa prefecture), the main base of Hojo clan, but local lords of Kanto region once followed Kenshin. As Satomi clan allied with Kenshin, Satomi clan could proceed into the border of Musashi province again. Under such situation, Yasusuke Ota (1531-1581), the general of Edo castle, tried to turn to Kenshin Uesugi.

But this attempt failure then Yasusuke Ota escaped to Sukemasa Ota (1522-1591) who was the lord of Iwatsuki castle (Saitama prefecture). Kenshin Uesugi asked Yoshitaka Satomi to rescue Yasusuke Ota and Sukemasa Ota at Iwatsuki castle under the siege of Hojo army, then Yoshitaka Satomi advanced to Konodai castle.

Second battle of Konodai

On the beginning of 1564, Hojo army crossed the rivers and attacked Satomi army. But Tsunakage Toyama (1513-1564) who was the commander of Kasai castle (Tokyo metropolis), was a father in law of Yasusuke Ota and felt responsibility of his turn, then charged into Satomi army over Konodai plateau only by himself. But Toyama army had only small soldiers then Tsunakage Toyama faced counter attack of Satomi army and died in the battle.

As it was just after new year day, Satomi army treated liquors to soldiers to celebrate the victory. But just at the time the main troop of Hojo army arrived and made sudden attack at next dawn, then drunk Satomi army could not stand it and suffered severe defeat. Nobushige Masaki (1540-1564), the highest retainer and core of Satomi army died in the battlefield.

After the battle, Hojo clan expanded its territory to whole part of Shimousa province and north half of Kazusa province, turning local lords such as Sakai clan and Hara clan or retainer of Satomi clan such as Masaki clan at Katsuura castle (Chiba prefecture). Further in 1566, Kenshin Uesugi who allied with Satomi clan also suffered defeat at Usui castle (Chiba prefecture), thus there was no expectation for the assistance of Uesugi army.

Result of second battle and afterward of castle

But Satomi clan forced to the corner tenaciously protected the border against Hojo clan, being supported by Satomi navy. In 1567 Hojo army attacked Satomi army encircled Mifuneyama fort under construction by Hojo clan, but lesser Satomi army broke Hojo army by skillful tactics then pushed out Hojo army from Kazusa province. 

Different from first battle in which Satomi army was a subordinate part and could preserve its army, in this second battle Satomi clan was a main party and suffered fatal damage. It pushed Satomi clan to the corner of disappear, but by desperate effort Satomi clan could restore from chasm of death but it took three years.

After the second battle, Konodai castle might be kept by Takagi clan at Kogane castle again. In 1590, after Odawara campaign of central ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598) toward Hojo clan, Takagi clan lost its territory along with Hojo clan. Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616) who succeeded former territory of Hojo clan abolished Konodai castle.

Now outer part of the castle was lost and used as the ground of home or park, but structure of central area is roughly remains at Satomi-Koen park. As castle site is located over higher place, wide scenery of east part of Tokyo metropolis is seen ahead of the river. This scenery is the one Satomi army saw two times facing strong enemy, and never saw again.

Continue to Part 7


20 minutes walk from Keishi Honsen line Konodai station. 10 minutes drive from Tokyo-Gaikan Jidoshado Expressway Ichikawa-kita interchange.

Related Castles

Mariyatsu Castle -History of peninsular brave (5) sudden fall of rival let way open-
Kururi Castle -History of peninsular brave (7) seesaw game-
Usui Castle -History of peninsular brave (8) Joint struggle with god of war-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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