68.備中松山城~Bicchu-Matsuyama Castle

The strong castle still remains on the mountain.

立地と歴史~Location and History

山の上に広がった城~Castle spread over Mountain

Bicchu-Matsuyama (what is now Takahashi City) was located in the center of Bicchu Province (the western part of now Okayama Prefecture). Many lords considered this area important and battled each other over it since the first Middle Ages.

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

Bicchu-Matsuyama Castle was first built on a mountain called Gagyu-san which has four peaks on it. The first castle was on the back peak called Omatsuyama, then it was spread to the other peaks. What we generally call Bicchu-Matsuyama Castle is on the second peak from the front called Komatsuyama.

城周辺の起伏地図~The relief map around the castle

めまぐるしく変わる城主~Lords were changed several times

In the “Sengoku” or Warring States Period, the Mimura Clan mainly held the castle. Iechika Mimura under the Mori clan took away the castle from the Amago clan in 1561. Since then, several battles happened over the castle. Iechika’s son, Motochika formed an alliance with Nobunaga Oda against Mori, but was lastly beaten by Mori in 1575. The Komatsuyama peak became the center of the castle until then.

三村氏の家紋「剣片喰」~The family crest of the Mimura Clan(licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

After that, the castle was an important site for Mori, but it was taken by the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1600 due to Mori’s loss in the battle of Sekigahara. The castle seemed to be once in ruin. In the Edo Period, several lords such as the Kobori and the Mizunoya clans governed the castle and castle town. They repaired, improved, and completed the castle again.

城主の一人、水谷勝隆肖像画、高梁市歴史美術館蔵~The Portrait of Katsutaka Mizunoya, one of the lords, ownd by Takahashi City History Museum(licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

山裾に御殿~Hall on Foot of the Mountain

They usually lived in the main hall called Onegoya on the foot of the mountain, because it was convenient for governance. In the late Edo Period, people started to refer to the hall on the foot as “the Castle” than the castle on the mountain as “the Mountain Castle”.

備中国松山城絵図部分、江戸時代~Part of the illustration of Bicchu-matsuyama Castle in Bicchu Province, in the Edo Period(出典:国立公文書館)


城への道のり~Route to the Castle

城周辺の地図~The map around the castle

( I will introduce only the main part of Bicchu-Matsuyama Castle on Komatsuyama peak, because I have only been there.) If you drive to Bicchu-Matsuyama Castle, you have to park at the parking lot half-way up the mountain. Then, you will transfer to the shuttle bus or walk. The shuttle bus goes to Fuigo Pass near the front peak called Maeyama. Everyone has to climb up from the pass to the castle. it takes about 30 minutes on foot going through the ruins of Nakadaiko Turret.

中太鼓櫓跡~The ruins of Nakadaiko Turret
城に至る山道~The trail to the castle

素晴らしい石垣~Wonderful stone walls

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

You may be surprised to see the combination of stone walls and natural stones. It’s the ruins of the Main or Ote-mon Gate which is the entrance of the Third Enclosure or “Sannomaru”. From the Sannomaru, you will also see the route to the Second Enclosure or “Ninomaru” zigzagged and surrounded by stone walls. It also looks great. In the Ninomaru, you can finally see the Main Enclosure or “Honmaru”.

大手門跡~The ruins of the Main or Ote-mon Gate
二の丸に続く通路~The route to the Second Enclosure
二の丸から見た本丸~The Main Enclosure from the Second Enclosure

本丸と天守~Main Enclosure and Main Tower

Honmaru has the Main Tower or “Tenshu” and three turrets. The Tenshu is one of the 12 remaining ones in Japan and the only one on mountain castles. It is two stories and 11m high which is the smallest one among the 12 Tenshu. However, it matches the rocky top of the mountain and looks heavy.

本丸~The Main Enclosure
天守~The Main Tower

The turrets are also a two story one and two single story ones. They have a good valance. You can enter Tenshu. The inside of it is simple and practical. There is a fireplace and a dressing room for the lord at the first floor. The second floor has a Shinto altar. It is said that they were prepared for the lord’s last battle. Of course, the views from the top are very good!

天守の正面~The front of the Main Tower
天守1階~The first floor
天守2階~The second floor
本丸奥にある二階櫓~The two story turret at the back of the Main Enclosure
本丸からの眺め~A view from the Main Enclosure

その後~Later History

After the Meiji Restoration, Bicchu-Matsuyama Castle was abandoned and the buildings in Onegoya were demolished, but the buildings on the mountain were left as it would be. As a result, they were in ruin again. In the first Showa Era, a teacher, Tomonaru Shinano investigated the castle and reported to the public. Because of it, Takahashi Town started to preserve the castle. It was lastly designated as an Important Cultural Property in 1956.

三の丸の土塀も重要文化財です~The Important Cultural Property also includes this earthen walls at the Third Enclosure

私の感想~My Impression

It is surprising to know that many people have made great efforts to keep such a great castle on the mountain. I hope I can visit the whole castle area (from the foot to all the peaks of the mountain) someday.

大松山城跡~The castle ruins of Omatsuyama peak(taken by あけび from photoAC)

ここに行くには~How to get There

To the parking lot near the shuttle bus terminal:
If you want to go there by car, it takes about 30 minutes from the Kayo IC on Sanyo Expressway.
If you want to go there by bus, it takes about 10 minutes from Bicchu-Takahashi Station.
From Tokyo, Nagoya, or Osaka to Bicchu-Takahashi Station: Take the Shinkansen super express and transfer to Hakubi local line at Okayama Station.

リンク、参考情報~Links and References

備中松山城、高梁市公式ホームページ(Takahashi City Website)
・「歴史街道スペシャル、名城を歩く22、備中松山城」PHP研究所(Japanese Book)
・「よみがえる日本の城5」学研(Japanese Book)

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)