Oda Nobunaga wanted a castle built in the Sunomata area as a bridgehead for his final assault on Saito’s main castle, Inabayama (Gifu) Castle. It was a marshy region between Ogaki Castle, which was held by Oda forces, and Saito’s stronghold, Inabayama Castle. Previous attempts to build a castle in the area by Oda generals, Sakuma Nobumori and Shibata Katsuie, had failed. Kinoshita Tokichiro (later Toyotomi Hideyoshi) was ordered to try again. The construction materials were obtained by felling trees upstream and then floating the logs down the Sunomata River and tributaries of other rivers to the castle site. By cleverly pre-assembling some sections of defensive structures and hiding them before the final steps in the construction of this fortified site, Tokichiro was able to build his first castle ever and do it “overnight”. In reality, it took at least two to three days to put up the basic defensive structures and longer to dig the moats around the castle. As Toyotomi Hideyoshi, he was to repeat this clever psychological ploy on a grander scale with the construction of Ishigakiyama Ichiya Castle to demoralize the Odawara Castle defenders. In comparison, Sunomata Castle was more akin to a border fort with some simple watchtowers, wooden palisades, and dry moats. There is a good model of what the castle may have looked like inside the Sunomata History Museum. After the successful conquest of Mino, and its integration into the growing Nobunaga empire, Sunomata Castle was decommissioned.
I went to Sunomata Castle after visiting Takenaka Jinya and Ogaki Castle. I took my folding bike with me and rode to Sunomata Castle from JR Ogaki Station in around 20 minutes. There are buses to Sunomata Castle from either Ogaki Station or Gifu Station, but I am not sure of their schedules. The land where the original Sunomata Castle stood has changed as a result of the changes in the course of the local rivers. A map inside the Sunomata Castle Museum clearly shows this. Also, the present concrete Sunomata Castle is nothing like what was built by Tokichiro, but it does house a pretty decent museum about the history of the castle and the conflict between Nobunaga and the Saito Clan of Mino. From Sunomata Castle, you can clearly see Gifu Castle perched on Mt. Kinka in the distance on a clear day.
|English Name||Sunomata Castle|
|Alternate Names||Ichiya Castle, Sunomata Ichiya Castle|
|Founder||Kinoshita Tokichiro (Toyotomi Hideyoshi)|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Designations||Local Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Features||main keep, water moats, stone walls|
|Access||Ogaki Sta. ; Bus|
|Visitor Information||9:00am-5:00pm / 200yen|
|Time Required||45 minutes|
|Location||Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture|
|Coordinates||35° 22' 2", 136° 41' 16"|
|Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|
|Added to Jcastle||2012|