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)