121.Motosakura Castle Part1

The castle of the Chiba Clan, an illustrious clan in Kanto Region

Location and History

Chiba Clan built it in 15th Century

Motosakura Castle was a large castle which was located in Shimosa Province (what is now the northern part of Chiba Prefecture). A warlord, Suketane from the Chiba Clan, first built the castle at latest in 1484 on a hilly area called Masakado-yama. The area was surrounded by Inba-numa Lake, and only open to the Shimosa Road on flat land in the southern direction. This meant the area was defensive and convenient for water and land transport.

The map around the castle in the early Meiji Era, Inba-numa Lake was still near the castle

The Chiba Clan’s family crest, Gessei or Moon and Star (licensed by Los688 via Wikimedia Commons)

Central portion, Inner Compounds.

When the castle was first built, the warlords in the Kanto Region were split into two groups, the western group and the eastern group. The western group was led by the shogunal deputy for the Kanto Region, the Uesugi Clan, and the eastern group was led by the head of the Kanto government in Koga, the Ashikaga Clan. The Chiba Clan was included in the eastern group and the Motosakura Castle was also an important site which connected Koga in Shimosa Province to the other provinces in Boso Peninsula inside the group. The clan built several enclosures in the central portion of the castle called the Inner Compounds.

The location of the castle

The Main Enclosure called Shiro-yama had the Main Hall for the lord of the castle. The hall had a set of two formal buildings called Shuden and Kaisho, because the clan was the governor of the province. The Okuno-yama enclosure, which had the Myoken Shrine where the clan went for worship, is next to the main enclosure on the west. The Okuno-yama enclosure was connected to the Main Enclosure by a wooden bridge . The next one is the Kura-ato Enclosure which had warehouses. The westmost one is the Settei-yama Enclosure which was used for guesthouses. In addition to these enclosures, the Higashi-yama Enclosure was set to protect them, and the Tokoji-byo Enclosure, which had temples, faced Inba-numa Lake.

The enclosures of the Inner Compound (from the signboard at the site)

Outer Compounds were built against Satomi Clan

In the middle of the 16th Century, the situation of the Kanto Region changed. The Hojo Clan captured most of the region, then the Chiba Clan decided to support Hojo by adopting a son from them. However, the Satomi Clan in Boso Peninsula (the south of Honsakura Castle) was against Hojo. As a result, the Chiba Clan had to reinforce the defense of the castle on the south.

The location of Motosakura Castle and the home base of the Satomi Clan

The clan built large enclosures outside the Inner Compounds, called the Outer Compounds such as Araue, Negoya, and Mukai-Negoya. They were surrounded by thick earthen walls and had the sticking out defensive positions called Umadashi, which were built using Hojo’s techniques. In addition, the Settai-yama Enclosure became the pivot of the defense because it was the connecting point between the Inner Compounds and the Outer Compounds. The range of the castle finally reached 39,000 square meters.

The whole image of the castle including the Outer Compound (from the signboard at the site)

However, The Chiba Clan was fired by the ruler Hieyoshi Toyotomi in 1590, as their master Hojo Clan was also defeated by Hideyoshi. After that, Motosakura Castle was sometimes used by several clans. The castle was finally abandoned in 1615.

The Portrait of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, attributed to Mitsunobu Kano, ownd by Kodaiji Temple (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

To be continued in “Motosakura Castle Part2”

投稿者: Yuzo

城巡りが好きなYuzoです。日本には数万の城があったといわれています。その内の200名城を手始めにどんどん紹介していきます。 I'm Yuzo, I love visiting castles and ruins. It is said that there were tens of thousands castles in Japan. I will introduce you top 200 castles and ruins of them, and more!

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