171.備中高松城~Bicchu-Takamatsu Castle

This place was the start point of Hideyoshi’s unification of Japan.

立地と歴史~Location and History

織田と毛利の最前線~Front line between Oda and Mori

Bicchu-Takamatsu Castle was located around the boarder between Bicchu Province (the western part of now Okayama Pref.) and Bizen Province (eastern Okayama Pref.). The area around the castle is plain and was surrounded by marshes and the Ashimori-gawa River. The castle was a typical “water castle” and first built by the Ishikawa clan in the “Sengoku” or Warring States Period.

城の位置と備中国の範囲~The location of the castle and the range of Bicchu Province

In April 1582, Nobunaga Oda who had already invaded Bizen Province aimed to invade Bicchu that the Mori clan had, sent his retainer Hideyoshi Hashiba (the later ruler Hideyoshi Toyonomi) there.

豊臣秀吉肖像画、加納光信筆、高台寺蔵~The Portrait of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, attributed to Mitsunobu Kano, ownd by Kodaiji Temple(licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

備中高松城の戦い~Battle of Bicchu-Takamatsu Castle

Hideyoshi at first attacked Bicchu-Takamatsu Castle, but failed. He changed his strategy to flood the castle by building long banks and damming the water from Ashimori-gawa River. It was just the rainy season in Japan at that time. The castle was completely isolated. The siege started on May 8th and lasted for about a month. Meanwhile Hideyoshi negotiated with Mori’s diplomatic priest, Ekei Ankokuji to make a peace treaty, but Hideyoshi’s conditions for the plan was too strict for Mori.

水攻めのジオラマ~The diorama of the flooding the castle(高松城址公園資料館)

Hideyoshi asked his master, Nobunaga for help to finish the negotiation or have a showdown. However, on June 2nd, Nobunaga was killed in Kyoto by Mitsuhide Akechi who should be the reinforcement for Hideyoshi. It is said that the messenger from Mitsuhide to Mori was accidentally caught by Hideyoshi on the night of June 3rd. Hedeyoshi was upset and cried to hear about his master’s death, but his strategist, Kanbe Kuroda encouraged Hideyoshi and said this was the chance to take the power. Hideshori quickly made up his mind. He compromised his conditions with Mori, making the peace plan the next day. Mori knew about the incident after that, but they were too late, because Hideyoshi broke the banks to flood the area around.

明智光秀肖像画、本徳寺蔵~The Portrait of Mitsuhide Akechi, ownd by Hontokuji Temple(licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Then, he and his over 10,000 soldiers turned back to their base Himegi Castle, about 80km from Bicchu-Takamatsu Castle in two or three days. He gave all of his properties to his soldiers. The braved troops defeated Mitsuhide on June 13th. Mitsuhide’s glory was only 11 days. (Battle of Yamazaki)

秀吉の動き~Hideyoshi’s movement

何が真相か~What is the truth?

A writer says that story was too good to be true. He argued that it was too quickly to make the decision between Hideyoshi and Mori. The conditions included the death of the castle’s lord, Muneharu Shimizu. How could they decide and execute such important matters within one day? He speculates that Hideyoshi had predicted the incident would happen and had prepared for that. In addition, the Mori’s priest Ekei might have known and shared that with Hideyoshi. They were just waiting for the result.

清水宗治の首塚~Muneharu’s grave

He also had doubts about Hideyoshi’s fastest movement. It is a fact. The question is why the tired pre-modern troops could do this. They must have also prepared for the movement as well as the properties in Himegi. The writer guessed Hideyoshi might lead Mitsuhide to attack Nobunaga.

姫路城~Himeji Castle


城跡~The ruins of the castle

Now, the ruins of Bicchu-Takamatsu Castle is open to the public as a water park. It has a relaxed atmosphere, and a museum where we can lean more about its history. At the ruins of the Main Enclosure or Honmaru, Muneharu’s grave and so on remain.

水上公園~The water park
高松城址公園資料館~Takamatsu Castle Ruins Park Museum
本丸跡~The ruins of the Main Enclosure

堤防跡~The ruins of the bank

I also recommend you visiting the ruins of the banks Hideyoshi built called “Kawazugahana” bank. The banks had about 5m height and about 3km length. The ruins were just at the edge of the banks, and look lower than in the past, but you can imagine how large the banks were by seeing them.

「蛙が鼻」堤~“Kawazugahana” bank
土俵を埋めた跡~The ruin of buried earth bags
堤跡の遠景~A distant view of the ruins of the bank

その後~Later History

After the battle, the Ukita clan under Hideyoshi took over Bicchu-Takamatsu Castle. In the Edo Period, the castle was abandoned, and a Shogunal retainer lived at the ruins of Honmaru. The ruins were designated as a National Historic Site in 1929. In 1985, the area around the ruins suffered natural flood from harsh weather. However, the ruins never sunk. That prove the good location of the castle in present day.

洪水時(上)と普段(下)の地域の写真~The photo of the area, the upper is when flooding, the lower is usual(高松城址公園資料館)

私の感想~My Impression

I think Hideyoshi must have predicted something would happen to his master, Nobunaga. He didn’t inform that to Nobunaga to prepare for his independence. He was just one of warlords. I’m rather surprised that his dramatic story probably partially made by himself has been believed to be the theory by most of Japanese people. He is incredible!

『高松城水攻築堤の図』、月岡芳年作、19世紀~”Water siege of Takamatsu castle”, attributed to Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, in the 19th century(licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

ここに行くには~How to get There

If you want to go there by car: It takes about 10 minutes from the Okayama IC on Sanyo Expressway. The park offers a parking lot.
If you want to go there by train: It takes about 10 minutes on foot from JR Bicchu-Takamatsu Station.
From Tokyo, Nagoya, or Osaka to Bicchu-Takamatsu Station: Take the Shinkansen super express and transfer to Kibi local line at Okayama Station.

リンク、参考情報~Links and References

備中高松城址、おかやま観光ネット(Okayama pref. Official Site)
・「秀吉はいつ知ったか/山田風太郎著」ちくま文庫(Japanese Book)
・「よみがえる日本の城5」学研(Japanese Book)

70.岡山城~Okayama Castle

The city has developed with the castle.

立地と歴史~Location and History

岡山市の起源~The origin of Okayama City

Okayama City is the capital of Okayama prefecture, Chugoku Region. The city has been developing based around Okayama Castle. The castle is now known for as a tourist spot alongside Asahigawa River with Korakuen, one of the most famous gardens in Japan. Actually, a lot of the city area comes from the part of the castle.

城の位置~The location of the castle

旭川沿いの岡山城(右)と後楽園(左)~Okayama Castle (on the right) and Korakuen Garden (on the left) alongside Asahigawa River

In the “Sengoku” or Warring States Period, the Ukita clan first built a castle on one of the hills called Ishiyama on the delta of Asahigawa River. Hideie Ukita expanded the castle into another hill in the east of Ishiyama. The hill was called Okayama, the origin of Okayama Castle and the name of the city.

現在の石山の地点~The present spot of “Ishiyama”
石山から見た城の中心部~The center of the castle from Ishiyama

古い形式の天守~Old type Main Tower

Hideie who was trusted by the ruler, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, became one of the five chief ministers, and was allowed to build a large Main Tower or “Tenshu”. The Tenshu remained until World War II. It was a five story building in an old style called “boro-gata” or look-out tower style. It had a small look-out tower on a large scale turret with hip-and-gable roofs. Its base stone walls and the first story above were constructed along the shape of the hill. They are said to remain the very first Tenshu style compared with that of Azuchi Castle, the first typical Tenshu in Japan.

宇喜多秀家肖像画、岡山城蔵~The Portrait of Hideie Ukita, owned by Okayama Castle (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)
第二次世界大戦前の岡山城の古写真~An old photo of Okayama Castle before World War II(licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

岡山城の完成~Completion of Okayama Castle

The lords of the castle were changed after Hideie was defeated in the battle of Sekigahara in 1600. The Kobayakawa clan, then the Ikeda clan continued to improv the castle and the castle town in the Edo Period. Asahigawa River flows along the delta of the castle from the north to the southeast being a natural hazard. As a result the castle was expanded into the west direction. They made water moats quintupled towards the direction.

備前国岡山城絵図部分、江戸時代~Part of the illustration of Okayama Castle in Bizen Province, in the Edo Period(出典:国立公文書館)

They also built many turrets and gates to protect the castle. In 1700, Korakuen garden was made in the opposite of the castle across the river. It shows it had already been in peace at that time.

後楽園の風景~A view of Korakuen Garden(taken by grandstream from photoAC)


街中の遺跡~Ruins in City Area

城周辺の航空写真~The aerial photo of around the castle

Now, the center of Okayama Castle, Honmaru enclosure has been developed as Ujo Park (Ujo means Crow Castle). The name comes from the Tenshu being painted black. The park is about 2 km from Okayama Station. The castle once spread to half of the way in the past, so there are some ruins of the castle outside the park. For example, Nishite Turret on the former Nishinomaru enclosure remains in the city area. It is designated as an Important Cultural
Property, but it looks lonely among modern buildings.

西手櫓 ~Nishite Turret

The ruins of Ishiyama enclosure is near the park. It was the first center of the castle, and is now used as a parking lot. The stone walls covering the enclosure seem to be built in the Edo Period.

石山曲輪~Ishiyama enclosure

本丸の遺跡~Ruins in Honmaru

本丸周辺の航空写真~The aerial photo of around Honmaru

The park, the former Honmaru, has two entrances. One of them is the route crossing Meyasu-bashi Bridge over the inner moat. It was the Main Route or “Ote-Michi” to Honmaru. The other is going through Roka-mon Gate beside the river, the back gate of Honmaru. You can have a good view of the castle with the river.

目安橋~Meyasu-bashi Bridge
廊下門~Roka-mon Gate

Honmaru has three levels of the ground. The lower level called Genodan is the area around the gates. The middle level called Omotemuki is where the hall for official residence and governance was. Tsukimi Turret remains there as an Important Cultural Property. It can also be seen with excellent stone walls from outside Honnmaru. The upper level called Hondan is the oldest part. Akazuno-mon Gate is its entrance. It had the original Tenshu and the main hall for a lord.

下の段~The lower level
表向~The middle level
月見櫓(内側)~Tsukimi Turret(inside)
月見櫓(外側)~Tsukimi Turret(outside)
不明門~Akazuno-mon Gate
本段~The upper level

The present Tenshu has been apparently restored and used as a museum. The stone walls surrounding Hondan were originally built by Hideie. They look very old.

外観復元された天守~The apparently restored Tenshu
本段を囲む石垣~The stone walls surrounding the upper level

その後~Later History

After the Meiji Restoration, Okayama Castle was abandoned and almost all of its buildings were demolished. The Honmaru area was used as the ground for a school. The other areas of the castle were turned into the city area with their water moats being filled. The original Tenshu remained as a National Treasure. However, it was unfortunately burned down by the Okayama Air Raid in 1945. After World War II, the Honmaru area was been developed as Ujo Park. Tenshu was apparently restored in 1966. The two gates, Roka-mon and Akazuno-mon , were also restored apparently at the same time.

岡山城の鯱~A golden grampus of Okayama Castle

私の感想~My Impression

Okayama Castle which is now named Ujo Park is a good place to visit. You can have great views and experience together with Korakuen Garden. I wish I could see and enter the original Tenshu. I also hope that officials will let people know the castle is the origin of Okayama City. For example, the remaining Nishite Turret among the city area should be known more to people.

西手櫓 ~Nishite Turret

ここに行くには~How to get There

If you want to go there by car: It takes about 20 minutes from the Okayama IC on the Sanyo Expressway. The park offers a parking lot.
From Okayama Station: Take the tram from the Okayama-ekimae stop in front of the east exit of the station, and get off at the Joka stop. Or It takes about 20 to 30 minutes on foot from the station.

リンク、参考情報~Links and References

岡山城-川面に映える漆黒の城Okayama Castle
岡山城-川面に映える金烏城(Okayama City Museum)
・「よみがえる日本の城5」学研(Japanese Book)