Ohtsu Castle

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Sakamotojō, the castle of Akechi Mitsuhide, was abandoned in 1586 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi's command and replaced by Ôtsujō, built by Asano Nagamasa, at Lake Biwa's southern tip. In 1595, Kyōgoku Takatsugu was granted a fiefdom here valued at 60,000 koku, and became lord of Ôtsujō.

In 1600, Lord Kyōgoku Takatsu sided with Tokugawa Ieyasu. During the Battle of Sekigahara, Ôtsujō was besieged by Eastern Army forces numbering around 15,000 led by Mōri Terumoto and Tachibana Muneshige. The castle's garrison, which number around 3,000 soldiers, razed the surrounding town before the battle so that the besiegers could not use the townhouses as cover. Commanders Akao and Yamada defended the castle for a week but the attackers brought cannon to bear against them. The second bailey fell to General Tachibana, and Lord Kyōgoku surrendered the castle. According to some accounts, the commotion of the battle could be heard from neighbouring Kyōto, and curious city dwellers climbed up to Mt. Hiei to have a gander, with some even bringing bentō (lunch boxes) and piqueniqueing whilst watching the siege!

Takatsugu had retired his lordship following this defeat, but Tokugawa Ieyasu was victorious at Sekigahara, and so Takatsugu had lost the battle but not the war. He was subsequently enfeoffed with territory at Obama Domain in Wakasa Province, valued at over 80,000 koku. Although much of Ôtsujō was destroyed during the siege and it was abandoned after the war, it is said that some of the castle's buildings were relocated to Zezejō and Hikonejō when those castles were constructed, with Zezejō replacing Ôtsujō very nearby. Based on findings at Hikonejō, it is speculated that Ôtsujō had a four-tier, five-storey bōrōgata-style tenshu (main keep).

Visit Notes

Very little remains of Ôtsujō, a once mighty castle. On what was once the edge of the castle's main bailey on the lake front is a park with a marker for the castle. There is actually an underground carpark here, next to the Ôtsu Marina, with some modern ishigaki (stone walls) built around it as part of the park above. However, there are no castle ruins here.

Fortunately, some small trace of the Ôtsujō's structure does remain, and this can be found at a place which was once part of the castle's sotobori (outer moat). On eitherside of the Hikiyama Parade Float Museum there are parking areas. Here we can glimpse a segment of original ishigaki which runs for about 50m behind the buildings here.


Castle Profile
English Name Ohtsu Castle
Japanese Name 大津城
Founder Asano Nagamasa
Year Founded 1586
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition Ruins only
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Ishigaki
Features stone walls
Visitor Information
Access Biwakohamaohtsu Station on the Keihan Ishiyama Sakamoto Line; 1 minute walk
Visitor Information Free; 24/7; Park
Time Required 30 minutes
Location Ôtsu, Shiga Prefecture
Coordinates 35° 0' 43.42" N, 135° 51' 51.16" E
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Added to Jcastle 2021
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed

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