49.Odani Castle Part2

Continuous enclosures on the ridge


Large Main Portion

Today, if you are close to the ruins of Odani Castle, you will see Odaniyama-Mountain the castle was built is still standing out. You will also see another mountain called Toragozeyama Nobunaga used as his battle castle in front of Odaniyama-Mountain. Many people gather at the foot of Odaniyama-Mountain for visiting the ruins or hiking. If you drive to the ruins, you can choose your parking spot at the foot or the mid slope. In the case of parking at the mid slope, you can access the main portion of the castle near the parking lot. However, this portion is large, steep and rough on the mountain, so it is recommended to wear trekking boots.

Odaniyama-Mountain on the right and Toragozeyama-Mountain on the left
The road to the main portion from the parking lot at the mid slope

Imagine how it looked by reading signboard

There are no castle buildings and few remaining stone walls on the foundations made of soil. This is because these items were taken as waste materials for other castles’ constructions, and it took a long time after the castle was abandoned. However, you can still see many enclosures on the ridge of the mountain as you climb up. Some signboards explain what each enclosure was called, used for, and looked like.

The Guardhouse Ruins
The imaginary of the Guardhouse Ruins, from the signboard at the site
Toragozeyama Mountain from the view spot at the mid slope
The Teahouse Ruins
The imaginary of the Teahouse Ruins, from the signboard at the site
The Stable Ruins
The imaginary of the Stable Ruins, from the signboard at the site
The Cherry Riding Ground Ruins
The imaginary of the Cherry Riding Ground Ruins, from the signboard at the site

Large Hall Nagamasa where lived and Main Enclosure where he fought

Ohiroma or the Large Hall Enclosure is the largest one in the castle. Its entrance is Korogane-mon Gate Ruins which have some stone steps and stone walls. There were the Main Halls for the lord and relatives. A lot of household items, such as earthen cups, silver cups, coins, and mirrors were unearthed by the excavation. You can also enjoy a good view from there, so Nagamawa and his family might usually have lived in the enclosure.

The map around the castle

Korogane-mon Gate Ruins
The Large Hall Ruins
A view from the Cherry Riding Ground Ruins nearby

The next is the Main Enclosure where Nagamasa fought against Nobunaga. It has two tiers with some remaining stone walls. It is speculated that it had a building like the Main Tower. Nagamasa sallied out from there but died in the Akao Residence Ruins nearby.

The Main Enclosure
The remaining stone walls of the Main Enclosure
The imaginary of the Main Enclosure, from the signboard at the site

You will see the Large Ditch behind the Main Enclosure to divide the castle into the front and back part. This ditch might have protected the enclosure from Nobunaga’s attack from the back part for a while.

The Large Ditch

To be continued in “Odani Castle Part3”
Back to “Odani Castle Part1”

49.小谷城 その2


















49.Odani Castle Part1

A large mountain castle the Azai Clan built

Location and History

Azai Clan built Castle as their Home Base

Odani Castle was a large mountain castle located in the northern part of Omi Province, which is now Shiga Prefecture. A local warlord of the Azai Clan, built the castle around 1520’s during the Sengoku Period. However, the clan was unfortunately defeated at this castle in 1573. As a result, the castle has been known to many people for Azai’s tragedy.

The range of Omi Province and the location of the castle

Omi Provence had been a very important location connecting western and eastern Japan. The Shoguns and rulers wanted to own or take control over this province. That’s why Nobunaga Oda made an alliance with Nagamasa Azai who was the lord of the clan by getting his sister Oichi married with Nagamasa before he went to Kyoto in 1568. However, Nagamasa rebelled against Nobunaga in 1570 when Nobunaga attacked the Asakura Clan which was another ally of the Azai Clan. The long battle between Nobunaga and Nagamasa had started.

The portrait of Nobunaga Oda, attributed to Soshu Kano, owned by Chokoji Temple, in the late 16th century (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)
The portrait of Nagamasa Azai, owned by Jimyo-in Temple (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Castle is improved to fight against Nobunaga Oda

Odani Castle was built on a ridge of Odaniyama-Mountain (at 495m). It had many enclosures with halls which were surrounded by stone walls. It is thought that they were for living and showing authority to people rather than for battles at its first stage. This was because the lord of the castle sometimes escaped from the castle when it was attacked. However, in order to fight against Nobunaga, the castle was improved as a strong fortress with the help of the Asakura Clan. The castle also had many branch castles such as Ozuku Castle on the top of the mountain to protect the back side of Odani Castle.

The relief map around the castle

Nagamasa and the Asakura Clan fought against Nobunaga on a field in the Battle of Anegawa in 1570 but were beaten. Then, he decided to stay in Odani Castle waiting for his allies, the anti-Nobunaga Network beating Nobunaga. Nobunaga gave up making an aggressive attack on the castle, instead, he took actions to make it isolated bit by bit. His retainer such as Hideyoshi Hashiba persuaded some of Nagamasa’s retainers to support Nobunaga. That resulted in some branch castles of Odani Castle belonging to Nobunaga’s side without battles.

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

Castle is isolated after long battle, then falls

Nobunaga also built a new battle castle called Toragoze-yama Castle as his stronghold in front of Odani Castle. This made Nobunaga get supplies easier, while making it much more difficult for Nagamasa. In 1573, Nobunaga drove the Asakura Clan away from the most important branch, Ozuku Castle which they had held and captured it. Moreover, Nobunaga chased the clan down to their home base, Ichijodani Castle, and defeated them. As a result, Odani Castle was completely isolated.

The relief map around the castle

The ruins of Ichijodani Castle

In the castle on the ridge, Nagamasa was at the Main Enclosure in the lower part and his father, Hisamasa was at the Komaru Enclosure in the upper part. Nobunaga’s retainer, Hideyoshi Hashiba rushed up from the foot to the Kyogoku-maru Enclosure in the middle part and captured it on Aug 27th. That meant the castle and the Azai Family were divided. Hisamasa fell into crisis and killed himself performing Hara-kiri on the same day. Nagamasa held on for a few more days, but finally killed himself in the same way as his father, and the castle fell on Sep 1st.

The portrait of Hisamasa Azai, owned by Jimyo-in Temple (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)
The restored map of the enclosures on the ridge, from the signboard at the site, adding the red letters for some enclosures’ names

Fates of Namasa Azai’s wife and children

Oichi, who was Nobunaga’s sister, but also Nagamasa’s wife, had still been at the castle and was saved by Nobunaga. She and Nagamasa had three daughters and at least one son. These daughters were also saved and later known as Azai’s Three Sisters including the oldest Chacha being Hideyoshi’s wife after he became the ruler of Japan. The son called Manpuku-maru was unfortunately killed as a common rule at that time not to be revenged by him. The heads of Nagamasa and Hisamasa’s were on public display in Kyoto also as another common rule. Nobunada made skull cups using their heads to share them with his retainers in a party. There were many different common practices at that times from us.

The portrait of Oichi, owned by Jimyo-in Temple (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)
The statues of the three sisters, at the site of Kitanosho Castle Ruins

To be continued in “Odani Castle Part2”