Glossary: place - castle

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Aoba Joushi (青葉城趾)

Also known as: Sendai-jou (仙台城), Gojourou (五城楼)
Lit. 'Fresh Leaves Castle Ruins'

The ruins of a castle located in Sendai City built by Date Masamune in 1601. It was the governmental seat of Sendai-han and designated a historical landmark of Japan.

The castle sat on Aoba Hill and was naturally defended by a 400-foot cliff on one side and the Hirose River on the other. Masamune built the Inner Citadel and the Western Wing on Aoba Hill, and Date Tadamune built the Second Wing and Third (Northern) wings at its base. The ruins of the Third Wing is now the Sendai Museum.

All that remains of the original castle today are old stone walls; the rest were dismantled or destroyed in fire, earthquakes, and bombings.

Edo-jou (江戸城)

Also known as: Chiyoda Castle (千代田城)

Edo Castle is a flatland castle located in what is now the Chiyoda District of Tokyo, once called Edo in the Toshima District of Musashi Province. It has been designated a special historical landmark and is now used as the Imperial Palace.

The warrior to first use Edo as his base was Edo Shigetsugu, and the Edo Clan resided there from the end of the Heian Period to the beginning of the Kamakura Period. After the destruction of the Edo Clan in Kantou riots in the 15th Century, Oota Doukan, a vassal of the Ougigayatsu-Uesugi Clan, built Edo Castle there in 1457. Doukan was later killed by his master Uesugi Sadamasa, and the Uesugi took possession of the castle. After the fall of the Ougigayatsu-Uesugi Clan, the castle came under control of the Houjou Clan.

After the Siege of Odawara, Toyotomi Hideyoshi bequeathed Houjou's old fiefs to Tokugawa Ieyasu and decreed that he should move into Edo Castle. Ieyasu did so on Aug. 30, 1590 and later established the Tokugawa Shogunate with Edo as its military capital. His grandson Tokugawa Iemitsu greatly expanded the castle and grounds from 1593 to 1636.

The last Tokugawa shogun surrendered Edo Castle to the imperial forces on Apr. 11, 1868. The castle was renamed Tokyo Castle, then Imperial Castle. The Meiji Emperor took possession of the castle in the later part of the same year made it his imperial residence.

Hachigata-jou (鉢形城)

Hachigata Castle was a mountain castle built in Musashi Province (now Saitama Prefecture) in 1476 by Nagao Kageharu in defiance of the Yamanouchi-Uesugi Clan which his clan served when the then-clan head Uesugi Akisada passed him over for inheritance of the position of Nagao clan head in favor of his younger brother Nagao Tadakage.

Five years later, Oota Doukan of the Ougigayatsu branch attacked the castle and finally took the castle for Uesugi Akisada. During the next few decades the two branches of the Uesugi Clan fought over the castle.

After the Battle of Kawagoe Castle in 1546, the Houjou Clan became the rulers of Musashi, and Houjou Ujikuni became master of the castle in 1564. Thereafter it served as one of the bases from which the Houjou Clan controlled the Kantou.

It strategic position at an important crossroads made it a target for various attacking warlords, including Takeda Shingen in 1569 and Uesugi Kenshin in 1574, but its formidable defenses, both natural (nestled as it is between two rivers and high cliffs) and man-made, enabled it to repel all comers.

The castle withstood siege from 35,000 troops with a garrison of only 3,000 for a month during the Siege of Odawara, but Ujikuni finally surrendered on the condition that the lives of his men would be spared.

Hachiouji-jou (八王子城)

Hachiouji Castle was a mountain castle built by Houjou Ujiteru on Mt. Fukazawa in 1587 in a strategic part of West Kantou (now Tokyo). Hachiouji, or "Eight Princes", was so named because the eight sons of the eight Buddhist Gozu Tenno deities were enshrined at the summit of the mountain.

Ujiteru made Hachiouji his main fortress, but in 1590 during the Siege of Odawara, Ujiteru and his main vassals raced to join the battle at Odawara, leaving only a few vassals, troops, mobilized peasants and their families—in all around 1000 to face the 15,000 of the combined armies of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Uesugi Kagekatsu, Maeda Toshiie, and Sanada Masayuki.

The castle was overrun and fell in a single day. Yokochikenmotsu Yoshinobu, the chamberlain, and the other vassals committed seppuku because they had not been able to take decisive action. The women and children killed themselves or threw themselves into the waterfall of the lord's palace, starting with Ujiteru's wife Hisa. Stories say that the waterfall ran with blood for three days and three nights.

Tokugawa Ieyasu later abandoned the castle.

The castle ruins were declared a historical landmark on June 9, 1951.

Hasedou-jou (長谷堂城)

The mountain castle located the Mogami land of Dewa (present-day Yamagata City) which was put under siege by Uesugi Kagekatsu in the Battle of Dewa. The Mogami and Date forces were able to successfully defend the castle.

Ishigakiyama-jou (石垣山城)

Also known as: Ishigaki-yama One-Night Castle (石垣山一夜城), Taikou One-Night Castle (太閤一夜城)

The One-Night Castle was Toyotomi Hideyoshi's stronghold during the Siege of Odawara, built on top of Mt. Ishigaki. 30,000 - 40,000 of Hideyoshi's troops began construction on it on April 5th and completed it in about 80 days. The construction was completed in secrecy, and its position within the tree cover of Mt. Ishigaki could not be seen from Odawara Castle to the north-east. At its completion, Hideyoshi ordered the trees felled so that from the Houjou side the castle seemed to spring up overnight, sapping their morale. The castle, the first all-stone castle in the Kantou, was very much a modern fortress at the time. Hideyoshi held tea parties at the castle with the imperial messenger as a guest.

The castle remains were designated a historical landmark in 1959.

Kabasawa-jou (樺沢城)

Also known as: Mariko-jou (鞠子城)

Kabasawa Castle is a mountain castle located in Echigo (now Niigata Prefecture) said to be the place where Uesugi Kagekatsu was born. Its inner citadel was built at the mountain summit at an elevation of 300 meters (~984 feet).

During the 14th century, the castle was the stronghold of a vassal of Nitta Yoshisada. Nagao Kagetora (Uesugi Kenshin) became master of the castle during the Sengoku Period and commanded his brother-in-law Nagao Masakage to make alterations to it.

Since Kabasawa Castle lay on the three-province highway that was the shortest distance between Echigo and the Kantou, it was used as a communications base during Kenshin's Kantou expeditions. Masakage and his wife Sentouin seemed to have lived in the castle as well, and their son (later Uesugi Kagekatsu) was born there in the fifth year of their marriage.

After Kenshin's death, Houjou Ujiteru and Houjou Ujikuni dispatched by Houjou Ujimasa to aid their brother Uesugi Kagetora in the Otate no Ran crossed Mikuni Pass and captured Kabasawa Castle. The Houjou army made Kabasawa their base from which to attack Sakato Castle, but withdrew with the advent of winter.

Kagekatsu took the castle upon his victory in the Otate no Ran. He later abandoned the castle upon receiving the 120,0000-koku territory of the Aizu from Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

Kaidu-jou (海津城)

Also known as: Matsushiro-jou (松代城)

The castle protected by Kousaka Masanoubu, and where Takeda made his stronghold during the battle of Kawanakajima. It is now called Matsushiro-jou (松代城).

Kasugayama-jou (春日山城)

Also known as: Hachigamine-jou

Kasugayama Castle was Uesugi Kenshin's primary fortress, located in present-day Niigata Prefecture. It was built by the Nagao clan, and Kenshin became its lord in 1548 (some say Kenshin built the castle). Uesugi Kagekatsu won control of the castle in the Otate no Ran after his adopted father's death.

Kawagoe-jou (河越城/川越城)

Lit.: "River-crossing Castle"
Also known as: Hatsukari Castle (初雁城), Kirigakure Castle (霧隠城)

Kawagoe Castle was a flatland castle built in 1457 by Oota Sukekiyo, a chief vassal of Uesugi Mochitomo of the Ougigayatsu-Uesugi clan. In 1525, Houjou Ujitsuna took over the castle, and it became a strategic position for the Houjou rule of the Musashi Province. In 1546, the Battle of Kawagoe Castle was fought over the castle, in which the Houjou Clan won an incredible victory over overwhelming odds.

During Toyotomi Hideyoshi's Siege of Odawara in 1590, the castle fell to Maeda Toshiie and was later given to Tokugawa Ieyasu's vassal Sakai Shigetada. It then passed through the hands of several other clans before being abandoned around the 1870s.

In 1924 the Saitama government declared the castle ruins a historical landmark, and it was named as one of Japan's 100 famous castle in 2006.

Kiyosu-jou (清洲城)

Oda Nobunaga took control of this castle in 1555, which was constructed by an unknown daimyo, in his effort to unite all of Owari. The castle was reconstructed in 1989.

Kodukue Castle (小机城)

A flatland mountain-castle located in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture (formerly Musashi), built by Kantou Kanrei Uesugi around 1438 - 1439. It was later abandoned before the Later Houjou Clan took over the territory. Houjou Ujitsuna restored it and made his vassal Kasahara Nobutame its lord. Kasahara poured his efforts into maintaining the villages and land around the castle, and his descendants lived in the area well into the Edo Period.

Houjou Ujitaka, Houjou Saburou (Uesugi Kagetora), and Houjou Ujimitsu succeeded Kasahara as lord of the castle. In 1590, during the Siege of Odawara, the castle was taken by Toyotomi Hideyoshi without bloodshed. It was left to fall to ruin during Tokugawa Ieyasu's reign. The main structures of the inner ad outer citadels still remain today.

Kooriyama-jou (郡山城)

A castle originally built by Tsutsui Junkei in 1580, who made it his stronghold as governor of Yamato under Oda Nobunaga's "one province one castle" law. After his death, Toyotomi Hidenaga, half-brother of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, made it his residence.

The walls and moat of the castle still remain today, and are preserved in a public park in Yamato-Kooriyama City in Nara.

Matsumoto Castle (松本城)

Also known as: 深志城 (Fukashi-jou), 鴉城 (Karasu-jou)

A castle in Matsumoto which was built by the Ogasawara Clan during the Sengoku Period (then called Fukashi-jou). It was captured by Takeda Shingen in 1550 and recaptured by Ogasawara Sadayoshi in 1582, who changed the castle's name to Matsumoto Castle. Later it came under the rule of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Hideyoshi appointed Ishikawa Kazumasa the new lord of Matsumoto Castle, and he and his son, Ishikawa Yasunaga, maintained the castle and town. Yasunaga greatly expanded the castle probably around the years 1593-1594, adding the three towers tenshu (danjon tower), inui-kotenshu (small tower in the northwest), and watari-yagura (connecting scaffold), as well as the goten (residence), taikomon (drum gate), kuromon (black gate), yagura (scaffold), hori (trench), honmaru (the main wing), ninomaru (the second wing), and sannomaru (the third wing).

Matsumoto Castle is one of the best-preserved castles in Japan and is one of the designated national treasures. It is also called "Crow Castle (Karasu-jou)" for its black walls.

Motomiya-jou (本宮城)

A castle located in Fukushima Prefecture which was built in the early Sengoku Period which Date Masamune regarded highly and used many times as headquarters for his troops.

Its remains are now part of Motomiya Elementary School and the surrounding agricultural land.

Nerima-jou (練馬城)

Nerima Castle was a castle built around 1331-1333 by a branch of the Toshima Clan as a residence in their territory of Nerima. It once stood in what is now Toshima Amusement Park in Nerima City, Tokyo.

The castle was thought to have fallen in 1477 along with the Toshima main castle of Shakujii in the Battle of Egota-Numabukurohara when Oota Doukan of the Yamanouchi and Ougigayatsu Uesugi clans defeated Toshima Yasutsune, who had sided with Nagao Kageharu against the Uesugi clans in Nagao Kageharu's Rebellion in 1476.

Odawara-jou (小田原城)

Odawara Castle is a mountain castle located on a hill above Odawara City in present-day Kanagawa Prefecture and is a designated national historic site. It was built in 1417 by Oomori Yoriharu and greatly expanded by Houjou Souun when he took it in 1495. His son Houjou Ujitsuna made it his main stronghold, and so it remained for three more generations of the clan. Its extensive defenses repelled attacks by great warlords such as Uesugi Kenshin and Takeda Shingen. Toyotomi Hideyoshi took the castle in 1590 after the Houjou surrendered to him in the Siege of Odawara. He awarded it to Tokugawa Ieyasu after destroying most of its fortifications along with the Houjou lands.

Tokugawa gave the castle one of his senior retainers, Ookubo Tadayo, after the completion of Edo Castle, and it remained in the hands of the Ookubo Clan aside from a few decades in the late 1600s until the Meiji Era, when the castle was destroyed in 1870–1872 in obedience with imperial decree.

The area became Odawara Castle Park (also known as Castle Ruins Park) in 1950. The park includes an art museum, local history museum, city library, amusement park, and zoo. The present (historically inaccurate) structure, which mimics the much-reduced form of the castle in Ookubo Tadayo's time, was rebuilt in 1960 out of reinforced concrete to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the proclamation of Odawara as a city. Tokiwagi Gate (常磐木門) in the inner citadel, Akagane Gate (銅門) in the outer citadel, and Umade Gate (馬出門) were reconstructed in 1971, 1997, and 2009, respectively, in more historically accurate representations of their late Edo forms.

Osaka-jou (大坂城/大阪城)

Located in Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture, Osaka Castle was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi on the former site of the Ikkou Sect's Ishiyama Hongan Temple. He completed it in 1598 after 5 years of construction.

Otate (御館)

Uesugi Kenshin built the Otate in present-day Niigata Prefecture as residence for Uesugi Norimasa, Kantou Kanrei, when the latter escaped from Hira Castle in 1552, which was under attack by Houjou Ujiyasu with 20,000 soldiers, and sought aid from Kenshin (Nagao Kagetora at the time) at Kasugayama Castle. Kenshin later used the Otate as his public government office.

In 1578, after Kenshin's death, Kagetora escaped from Kasugayama Castle and set up his headquarters at Otate on June 18th during the Otate no Ran. Kagekatsu attacked Otate in February of the following year, finally destroying it by flame in April after Kagetora and his family had evacuated.

Nothing of the building (which had not been grandiose in the first place) remains today; the area is now mostly devoted to housing districts with a small "Otate Park."

Ryuuouzan-jou (竜王山城)

Lit.: "Dragon-King Mountain Castle"; a castle built on Mount Ryuuou behind Chougaku Temple by Toichi Tootada around 1533. It was one of the largest castles in Yamato, divided into a North Castle and a South Castle (the North Castle alone was second only in size to Shigisan Castle). Tootada died in 1545, and his son and heir Toichi Tookatsu became master of the castle. When Miyoshi Nagayoshi took power in the capital, his vassal Matsunaga Hisahide invaded Yamato. Tookatsu formed an alliance with Tsutsui Junkei to fight him, but his daughter was taken prisoner, and Tookatsu submitted to Hisahide.

In 1564 at Miyoshi Nagayoshi's death, Tsutsui Junkei formed an alliance with the "Miyoshi Triumvirate" against Matsunaga Hisahide. Toichi Tookatsu was unable to defend Ryuuouzan Castle against the Akiyama Clan, who were allied with Matsunaga. He abandoned Ryuuouzan Castle, and the Akiyama Clan set fire to the castle and countryside. This led to the legend of the 'hoihoi fires' (also known as the 'janjan fires'), which says that on a summer evening when it looks like rain, firefalls will come flying at the person who shouts 'hoihoi' towards the castle ruins.

Samegao-jou (鮫ヶ尾城)

A castle once located in Myoukou City, Niigata Prefecture belonging to vassals of the Uesugi Clan.

The date of its construction is undetermined, but during the 1500s the Uesugi (Nagao) Clan used it as a defensive fortress to protect and service the highway through the northern provinces.

During the Otate no Ran, Horie Munechika welcomed Uesugi Kagetora into the castle, seated on the only viable escape route into the Kantou, after the surrender of Kasugayama Castle to Uesugi Kagekatsu. However, Munechika had already been persuaded to betray Kagetora, and he set fire to the outer citadel before evacuating. Samegao fell to Kagekatsu's general offensive two days later.

Shigisan-jou (信貴山城)

A castle located on Mount Shigi, controlled by the Kizawa and Matsunaga clans. It was constructed in 1536 by Kizawa Nagamasa, who commanded it on behalf of the Hatakeyama Clan, then repaired and expanded by Matsunaga Hisahide, who commanded it on behalf of the Miyoshi Clan.

The castle was destroyed by Oda Nobunaga in the Siege of Shigisan in 1577, in which Matsunaga Hisahide was killed.

Takiyama-jou (滝山城)

Lit.: "Waterfall-mountain Castle"

Ooishi Sadashige, Musashi-no-Kami and vassal of the Yamanouchi-Uesugi Clan, built Takiyama Castle in 1521. In 1546, Houjou Ujiyasu took Kawagoe in a night battle (the Battle of Kawagoe Castle, destroying the Ougigayatsu-Uesugi Clan and erasing the influence of the Yamanouchi-Uesugi Clan in Musashi. Sadashige's son Ooishi Sadahisa adopted Houjou Ujiteru as his heir, then later became a vassal of the Houjou Clan. Ujiteru took over as the master of the castle and made massive repairs to it around 1558.

In 1569, Takeda Shingen's army of 20,000 camped to the north of the castle en route to an assault on Odawara Castle. A small force of 1,000 led by Oyamada Nobushige attacked from Kobotoke Ridge, penetrating all the way to the outermost walls, but a force of 2,000 Houjou troops staved off the attack.

However, following his near-defeat, Ujiteru decided that the castle's defenses were not optimal and abandoned it in favor of Hachiouji Castle.

Tamanawa-jou (玉縄城)

Tamanawa was a mountain castle built by Houjou Souun in 1513 as a strategic point guarding over the Miura Peninsula and Musashi Province. Its moat ran directly into Kashio River and from there into Sagami Bay, providing a launching point for sea battles.

The castle was reputed to be impregnable; it turned aside a combined force led by Satomi Yoshitoyo and Ashikaga Yoshiaki in 1526 as well as further attacks by the Satomi Clan. Both Uesugi Kenshin and Takeda Shingen gave up on its capture in their forays into Sagami. The last Houjou master of the castle, Houjou Ujikatsu, surrendered to Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the Siege of Odawara.

During the Edo Period, the castle was the stronghold of several trusted retainers of the Tokugawa before finally being abandoned in 1703. A girls' school (<a href="">Seisen Junior and Senior High School</a>) is now located at the castle's former site. Only the earthworks of its highest point remain, though even those are difficult to discern through the thick trees and shrubs that cover the area.

Tamon-jou (多聞城)

Also known as: Tamonyama-jou (多聞山城)

A castle built by Matsunaga Hisahide, located in Nara City. It was named for Tamonten (another name for Bishamonten).

Hisahide began construction of the castle in 1560 and finished two years later. When Hisahide rebelled against Oda Nobunaga in 1573 and lost, Tamon Castle passed into the hands of Akechi Mitsuhide, then Shibata Katsuie. When Nobunaga made Tsutsui Junkei governor-general of Yamato in 1577, he ordered Tamon Castle to be torn down. Many of its stones were used in the fortification of Tsutsui Castle and Kooriyama Castle. Hisahide died the following year at Shigisan Castle.

Nothing now remains of the castle. The municiple Wakakusa Middle School stands on its former site.

Toyama-jou (富山城)

A castle which was thought to have been built by Mizukoshi Katsushige at the command of his lord Jinbou Nagamoto, Ecchuu-no-kami, in 1543, but recent excavation suggests that it may be have built before, during the Muromachi Shogunate (1336 - 1573). The castle was located pretty much at the center of Ecchuu, at a strategic juncture between Hida Province and the North-Central (Hokuriku) Road, and for that reason was a hotly-contested territory by the Shiina Clan of Matsukura Castle, the Uesugi Clan of Echigo, and the Ikkou-ikki.

In 1582, Sassa Narimasa of the Oda Clan became master of the castle, and he performed large-scale repairs. After Oda's death, Toyotomi Hideyoshi laid siege to the castle in 1585 with 10,000 troops and took the castle from Narimasa. Thereafter the Maeda Clan became masters of the castle, but large parts of it was destroyed by fire in 1609. The castle was abandoned but reclaimed again by Maeda Toshitsugu, who founded Toyama-han and made Toyama Castle his main castle. The castle was home to 13 generations of the Maeda Clan thereafter.

The castle was abandoned again in the Meiji Period. The current structure was rebuilt after World War II and is now part of a park at the center of Toyama City.

Tsukanome-jou (塚野目城)

A castle once located in Mutsu Province (Fukushima Prefecture).

Tsutsui-jou (筒井城)

Built in 1430 by Tsutsui Junei, the castle became the main castle of the Tsutsui Clan. Tsutsui Junkei was its seventh generation master. He lost the castle to Matsunaga Hisahide in 1564. Junkei later became a vassal of Oda Nobunaga and recovered the castle upon Hisahide's death and his appointment as governor of Yamato by Nobunaga in 1577, but abandoned it in 1580 and moved to Yamato-Kooriyama Castle in obedience to Nobunaga's one-castle policy.

Nothing now remains of the castle but a stone monument marking the spot where it once stood.

Uozu-jou (魚津城)

Also known as: 小津城, 小戸城

A branch of Matsukura Castle, built in 1335 by the Shiina Clan, the castle was taken over by the Uesugi Clan during the Sengoku. It then became a strategic castle for the Uesugi for control of Ecchuu, and Kawada Nagachika served as its chamberlain for many years. In 1582, the castle was surrounded by Oda troops led by Shibata Katsuie, Sassa Narimasa, Maeda Toshiie, and Sakuma Morimasa. A fierce battle and siege ensued, (the Battle of Uozu Castle), and the castle finally fell when 13 of Uesugi's commanders committed ritual suicide. However, the Oda army immediately withdrew after hearing of the death of Oda Nobunaga at Honnou Temple. In 1583, Sassa Narimasa again laid siege to the castle, and Suda Mitsuchika surrendered to him, ending Uesugi control of the castle.

After Narimasa, the castle passed into the hands of the Maeda Clan, but was destroyed under the "One Province One Castle" decree of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Oomachi Elementary School as well as a courthouse now stand on the former site of the castle, of which very few traces remain.

Watari-jou (亘理城)

A castle contructed in Mutsu Province by Watari Motomune, a vassal of the Date Clan. The castle was later held by Katakura Kagetsuna, then Date Shigezane (1602).

Yamagata-jou (山形城)

Also known as: Ka-jou (霞城), Kichiji-jou (吉字城)

A castle located in the City of Yamagata, Yamagata Prefecture. Designated a historical landmark.

Built in 1357, the castle became the chief of Mogami Yoshiaki's castles when he was rewarded land for his service in the Battle of Sekigahara.

Yoita-jou (与板城)

A formidable mountain castle held by the Naoe Clan, vassals of the Uesugi Clan. It was an important base for Uesugi Kenshin's expeditions to the Kantou Region and to Ecchuu.

Yonezawa-jou (米沢城)

One of the strongholds of the Date Clan during the Sengoku and the birthplace of Date Masamune. It became the residence of Uesugi Kagekatsu and later generations of the Uesugi Clan as well as governmental seat of Yonezawa-han in the Edo Period. Located in Yamagata Prefecture.