Tsukikuma Castle

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TsukikumajouART (1).jpg


Ogawa Mitsuuji expanded and fortified an old fort to create his main castle here. In 1616 Ishikawa Tadafusa moved here from Ogaki Castle in Gifu and ruled until 1639 when it came under direct control of the Tokugawa Bakufu and was used as a regional government outpost. From 1682 to 1686 it was briefly the domain of Matsudaira Naonori but it became a regional government office again and remained so until the end of the Edo Period.

Visit Notes

The castle's proper name was originally Nagayama Castle, but in modern days it is more commonly referred to as Tsukikuma Castle after Mt. Tsukikuma where it's located. Other books and websites seem to split about half and half whether to call it Tsukikuma or Nagayama.

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  • Moat and walls
  • Stone walls
  • Stone walls
  • Tsukikuma Shrine
  • Upper bailey ishigaki (pics from here by ART)
  • Tenshudai (donjon platform)
  • Ishigaki, mizubori, dobei
  • Ishidoi, ishigaki and mock dobei
  • Mizubori (watermoat) and ishigaki
  • Close up of ishidoi with mock dobei atop
  • Grottoes discovered by castle lord
  • Mizubori (watermoat)
  • Mizubori (watermoat)

Castle Profile
English Name Tsukikuma Castle
Japanese Name 月隈城
Alternate Names Nagayama-jo, Maruyama-jo
Founder Ogawa Mitsuuji
Year Founded 1601
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features stone walls, walls
Visitor Information
Access Hita Sta. (Kyudai Line), 30 min walk
Visitor Information Tsukikuma Park is open year round.
Time Required 30 mins
Website http://www.city.hita.oita.jp/toshi/page 00008.html
Location Hita, Oita Prefecture
Coordinates 33° 19' 56.28" N, 130° 56' 10.28" E
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Added to Jcastle 2013
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed

(one vote)
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6 months ago
Score 0++
Updated profile and gallery with new pictures and co-ordinates.


56 months ago
Score 0++

Tsukikuma Castle is a much storied site and each passing chapter of history has left its mark. The ruin consists of different types of ishigaki (stone-piled ramparts): including pilings of precisely hewn stone, roughly worked stone, and natural stones. Ishigaki can be seen in three separate parts of the castle. The uppermost segment of ishigaki in the rear of the honmaru (main bailey) is made up of larger, smooth blocks surrounded by smaller ones, and the gradient of the piling is more gentle, the quality of the stonework looks lesser. The impressive ishigaki at the front of the honmaru is more steeply piled. This is the "scar-face" ishigaki, because it partially collapsed in the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake and had to be restored so that now we can see half of the stones are light in hue, and the older half which survived the quake are much darker. At the foot of the castle mount the ramparts are made of regularly piled square blocks.

Tsukikumajō is unique in that the castle mount is riddled with old caves. These are thought to be the ancient graves of the Kusakabe Clan, predating the castle, which were first excavated by Shionoya Masayoshi in the early 19th century during the construction of a shrine on the castle mount. In order to reach the shrine the mountain trail was widened, cutting into the mountain and revealing the caves which had human bones inside. Shionoya held a memorial service for the dead and built a kuyōtō (memorial monument) with a "safe return" marker, featuring a poem by Hirose Tansō.

Some of the caves were blocked off but others were open and so I crawled into them. The largest excavations often had two entrances to a tomb. These dual tunnels then turned toward each other and met ahead of a vault, presumably where their former occupants were interred. Where the caves were easiest to enter there was evidence of recent inhabitation by homeless people. Those caves choked with vegetation at the entrances were quite free of rubbish however, but were instead tenanted by such beasties and creepy crawlies as to deter any further investigations on my part. Denizens included bats, cave crickets and the dreaded Gejigeji.

Perhaps not unsuitably for such a historic site, the castle has acquired multiple names in its time. Locally it is called Tsukikumajō, but it is also just as often called Nagayamajō or Maruyamajō. Another possible name is Mamedajō, since the castle town is called Mameda. The castle later became a Jin'ya or Daikansho by the name of Hita. Names of the castle in Japanese: 月隈城・永山城・長山城・丸山城・豆田城・豆田の山城・日田陣屋・日田代官所。


1601: "Maruyamajō" constructed by Ogawa Mitsūji. 1616: "Nagayamajō" constructed by Ishikawa Tadafusa. 1639: "Hita-jin'ya" constructed by the Ogawa. It is located in front of Nagayamajō. 1665: The fort is made a branch castle of Higo-Kumamotojō under the Hosokawa; northwest moat expanded. 1682: Matsudaira Naonori becomes lord of the castle; his domain is valued at 70,000 koku. 1686: The territory becomes a tenryō, directly controlled by the Bakufu through their hatomoto representatives. The Ogawa once again take over, again as hereditary Daikan. 1767: Ibi Masatoshi becomes Daikan. 1817: Shionoya Masayoshi becomes Daikan and discoveres the hidden caves.

1868: Matsukata Masayoshi enters the castle, but as Governor of Hita Prefecture. 1872: Feudalism is formally abolished and Hita Prefecture is merged into Oita Prefecture. 1915: The site becomes a public park. Modern times: The site becomes known as Tsukikumajō, after the mount. Tsukikuma (Moon Nook) is part of a trio of hills in the area, the others being Hikuma (Sun Nook) and Hoshikuma (Star Nook). In 2016 the Kumamoto Earthquake causes damage to the ishigaki around the honmaru which has now been restored.

For a full list of lords and hatamoto of the territory please see the wikipedia article for 永山城.


57 months ago
Score 0++
Decent site, and very mysterious with all those caves. You can see lots of different ishigaki methods here in a very small area. The tenshudai collapsed in an earthquake in recent times but has been restored; the stones on one side appear newer. The castle town also makes this a worthwhile site to visit.