Saturday, August 29, 2020

Misaki Castle -Mother port of Hojo navy-

Misaki Castle

-Mother port of Hojo navy-



Name: Misaki castle (Misaki-jo)
Place: Shiroyama Miura city, Kanagawa
Location: 35.14422731099776, 139.62255837732772
Type: Hill Castle
Built: 15th century
Remaining remnants: Clay walls and dry moats 

Brief History

Misaki castle (三崎城) is located over Shiroyama hill, a coastal terrace faces the inlet of Misaki port at the center of current Misaki city. Misaki port is a large one at the southwestern edge of Miura peninsula, and known for major port of loading tunas. Utilizing relatively good access from Metropolitan area by Keikyu line, Misaki port is a tourist port known for morning market and tuna dishes.

Misaki port was an ideal medieval natural port. The depth of inlet is sufficient and only connected to small river the risk of sand sediment is limited. Both side of inlet is surrounded by hills which prevent damage of ships by strong winds. Among all at the mouth of the inlet Jogashima island spreads horizontally like a natural breakwater.

Origin of Misaki castle

Precise year is unknown but Misaki castle was built by local lord Miura clan around 15th century. Miura clan was a traditional family stem from Taira clan, and activated at the campaign of Zenkunen and Gosannen in 11th century under Minamoto clan and became a local lord of Miura peninsula.

Miura clan accompanied the raise of Yoritomo Minamoto (1147-1199) who was the founder of Kamakura Shogunate from the first. Losing its leader Yoshiaki Miura (1092-1180) at the battle of Kinugasa castle Miura clan contributed to the establishment of Shogunate and became one of the highest class retainer of Shogunate.

But after the extinction of blood line of Yoritomo Minamoto, Hojo clan which was the regent of Shogunate aimed monopoly and tried to ruin other major retainers of Shogunate, such as Hiki clan or Wada clan. In 1247 Hojo clan and Adachi clan provoked Miura clan and brought into battle, then Miura clan was once ruined at this Hoya Kassen battle.

Turbulent history of Mikura clan

But one branch family of Miura clan related to Hojo clan survived and succeeded the name of Miura clan. After the incident Miura clan once declined but contributed to the establishment of Muromachi Shogunate after the fall of Kamakura Shogunate in 1333, then came back to the status of major local lord at Miura peninsula.

Miura clan was temporally served as the governor of Sagami province under Muromachi Shogunate, but was dismissed included in the rebel of Zenshu Uesugi (?-1417) against Kamakura Kubo Highness. At the revolt of Mochiuji Ashikaga (1398-1439) who was the Kamakura Kubo Highness in 1438, Miura clan attacked Kamakura Kubo army then became the retainer of Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan.

Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan held south part of Musashi province (Tokyo metropolis) and Sagami province (Kanagawa prefecture) as the governor. Musashi province was managed by its regent Ota clan, and Miura clan served to Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan as deputy governor of Sagami province. 

Main base of Miura clan

Miura clan managed whole part of Miura peninsula as their main territory, building Arai castle (Kanagawa prefecture) at west coast, Misaki castle at south coast and Uraga castle (Kanagawa prefecture) at east coast. Among three castles Misaki castle was the main base of Miura clan and Arai castle and Uraga castle were branch castles for westward and eastward.

In the latter half of 15th century, Miura clan was involved in the conflict of their master Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan and its main family Yamanouchi Uesugi clan, and their own internal conflict but expanded their territory toward the center of Sagami province, Miura clan built Okazaki castle and Sanada castle at the west edge of alluvial fan of Sagami-gawa river.

However, at the same time, Sozui Ise (1456-1519, known as Soun Hojo) who was originally served to Imagawa clan, the warlord of Suruga province (middle part of Shizuoka prefecture), but seized Izu peninsula and became independent warlord, aimed expansion into Kanto region.

Fall of Miura clan and capture by Hojo clan

At first Sozui Ise captured Odawara castle (Kanagawa prefecture), an important castle at the west edge of Kanto region utilizing the disorder of its commander Omori clan after the loss of Ujiyori Omori (?-1494). As Omori clan had relationship with Miura clan, Fujiyori Omori (?-1503?), the leader of Omori clan, ran to Miura clan and kept resistance.

Next Sozui attacked the territory of Miura clan, then fell Okazaki castle and Sanada castle in 1513. Hojo army built Tamanawa castle at the root of Miura peninsula, to separate Miura clan from the reinforcement army of Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan. Being suppressed by Hojo army, Yoshiatsu Miura (1451.1616), the leader of Miura clan, besieged at Arai castle which was encircled by sea and connected to mainland only by narrow path.

Yoshiatsu Miura besieged at Arai castle for three years, waiting for the reinforcement army from Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan. But Ogigayatsu Uesugi army was broken by Hojo army, and finally isolated Arai castle fell then Yoshiatsu Miura killed himself in the castle. Over300 year history of Miura clan as the lord of Miura peninsula ended.

10 former retainers of Miura clan besieged at Jogashima castle and resisted against Hojo army. Sozui Ise asked them to follow to Hojo clan and become the core of Hojo navy and placed the mother port of Hojo navy at Misaki castle. Arai castle had painful image of fall of Miura clan, and Misaki castle could cover both of Uraga Suido straight and Sagami bay.

Structure of Misaki castle

Misaki castle spreads over the hill which consists of two terraces connected by narrow path like a butterfly. South half of east terrace which is the ground of hall and area at the south of the road might be the central area, which is about 100 meter long and 30 meter side. At the east edge of the area faces the cliff, there remains line of tall clay wall and dry moat which separated its edge into small watching space.

Current place of city hall might be the central area, which was an entrance to central area from third area at northward. Clay wall of north line slightly remain at the north of the road, in the ground of junior high school, Ground of Junior High school was third area which was the outer part, and inner structure was lost but the cliff surrounding terrace mostly keeps original shape.

West terrace which is used as ground for elementary school and temples consist of larger terraces without defense structure, and might be added later as storage or administrative space. Castle site was wholly surrounded by horizontal dry moat still remains as a road. Total size of the castle is about 400 meter long and 300 meter wide, and its size and structure is suitable for the mother port of Hojo navy.

30 year struggle with Satomi navy

Along with the fall of Miura clan, Hojo clan had to face with the navy of Satomi clan, the warlord of Awa province (edge of Boso peninsula) opposite of Uraga Suido road. Furthermore Ujitsuna Hojo (1487-1541), son of Sozui Ise, captured Edo castle in 1524 and preceded inner part of Tokyo Bay. Now Hojo clan seized the control of west half of Tokyo bay and confronted Satomi clan held economic right of east half.

In 1526, Satomi navy crossed Uraga Straight and assaulted Miura peninsula. Satomi army intruded into Kamakura city and burnt Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, the sacred place of samurais in Kanto region. Satomi navy further attacked Tamanawa castle but failed in coordination with Ogigayatsu Uesugi army then was broken by Hojo army and retreated.

30 years after in 1556, Satomi navy which became larger in 30 years assaulted Miura peninsula again. Satomi navy landed at Jogashima island and faced Hojo navy at Misaki castle. Satomi navy broke Hojo navy and temporally captured Misaki castle and Arai castle, but soon ships were damaged by storm and retreated.

Mother port of Hojo navy

After the battle, Hojo clan reformed Misaki castle into secure fortress and attached to Ujinori Hojo (1545-1600), the commander of Nirayama castle (Shizuoka prefecture) and who controlled Hojo navy at Izu peninsula in 1567. Ujinori gradually suppressed Satomi navy, and in 1577 Hojo clan and Satomi clan made peace under the superior situation of Hojo clan.

After then Hojo navy had to cope toward west against Takeda navy at Suruga bay, or navy of central ruler Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582) or its successor Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598). Preparing for the battle against Hideyoshi Toyotomi, Hojo clan reformed Shimoda castle (Shizuoka prefecture) at the south edge of Izu peninsula, to prevent Toyotomi navy at the line of Izu peninsula.

But in the Odawara campaign in 1590, before overwhelming Toyotomi navy Shimoda castle besieged 50 days but finally opened the castle then Toyotomi navy ahead to the offshore of Odawara castle (Kanagawa prefecture), the main base of Hojo clan and encircled it from sea. At this battle there was no clear movement of Misaki castle and its navy. After the surrender of Hojo clan, Misaki castle was abolished.

Afterward of castle

After the fall of Hojo clan, Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616) who was appointed as the lord of Kanto region by Toyotomi government continuously used Misaki port as the base of its navy. Misaki port worked with Shimoda port, but later aggregated to Uraga area where directly faces Uraga straight and was suitable both for defense of Edo city and inspection of commercial ships.

Now most part of structures were broken by development of city hall or schools, but shape of terrain is not so changed then the shape of castle is imaginable. Today buildings of administrative offices, schools and temples spread over the ground of castle site, and small fishing boats lie on the inlet below castle. Even though the exterior is different, but character and nature of castle site is same as 400 years ago.


30 minutes walk from JR West Fukushio-sen line Kamitode station. 30 minutes drive from Sanyo-do Expressway Fukuyama-Higashi interchange.

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Pictures (click to enlarge)

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