Isshiki Castle (Chita)


ChitaIsshikijou (3).jpg


Isshikijō is said to have first been built by Isshiki Noriuji, lord of Ônojō and a member of the Ashikaga Clan, in the Nanbokuchō period, after the Isshiki Clan expanded their territory down the Chita Peninsula. With the onset of the Onin War and the era of feuding states, the Isshiki became one of many landowners usurped by their vassals who had developed stonger ties with local communities away from aristocratic Kyōto. The Isshiki were defeated by the Utsumi-Saji Clan, who took over Isshikijō and made it their main base. The ruins we see today probably date to that time. Isshikijō is thought to have been abandoned by the late 16th century when the temple Senzōin (/Jikōji?) was founded. Some of the castel's structures may have been recycled for use at the temple.

Visit Notes

Isshikijō is a hilltop fort site in Utsumi, a coastal town in Minami-Chita Township, Chita County. Features include earthworks such as baileys, dorui (earthen ramparts) and horikiri (trenches). The layout is that of a small yamajiro (mountaintop castle), with a main bailey complex protected to the rear by a trench and embankment, and some terracing of the ridge below. I cannot confirm whether more of the ridge above was terraced and fortified, though some maps seem to suggest it may have been.

Isshikijō was an incidental visit for me. I knew something was up there but I was visiting the old Uchida house at the foot of the castle mount and was going to ignore it since it was summer and on a wooded hill, but the guide at the house started talking about it so I got too curious. The old guide said there was a viewing platform up there in previous years, but he didn't seem to understand when I asked him if it was a 'castle-style observation deck'. I've since seen old pictures of a garishly painted observation tower made from concrete and steel with a traditional roof which might've been an attempt at making a mogi watchtower. Called 'Utsumi Observation Platform', it was in the lower terrace beneath the main bailey. Reading old blogs from about a decade or so ago which say things like "I enjoyed the view of the beach and could relax in the cool sea breeze" is incredible because this site is now a gloomy jungle.

The ruins of Isshikijō are impenetrably overgrown with bamboo grass taller than a tall man. Going in autumn or winter wouldn't make any difference, except for there maybe being less pests, and so it was well that I had a look. I made it up to the main forward bailey which has a signboard for the site, and behind that, where there should be earthworks, a wall of vegetation rose up, and so, seeing the way was barred, I called it quits there. This site won't be worth visiting unless the tangle of flora is cut back.

There is a temple at the foot of the castle-mount called Jikōji. It has some handsome ishigaki, presumably Edo period, and I wondered if it could've been the site of the castle's kyokan (residential annex where the lord actually lived). Adjacent to Jikōji is the (presumably) related temple of Senzōin, and the there are terraced areas above here alongside the path to the castle ruins. There is a an impressive shōrōmon (belfry-gate) at Jikōji, and a sign at the temple says that this gate was originally the ôtemon (main gate) used at Isshikijō.

Note: this is Isshikijō in the historical Chita County, not to be confused with Isshikijō in historical Aichi County or Katahara-Isshikijō in historical Nakajima County, all in Owari Province (the western part of Aichi Prefecture), or any of the other sites called 'Isshikijō' in Aichi Prefecture, of which there are several.

  • Main Bailey

Castle Profile
English Name Isshiki Castle (Chita)
Japanese Name 知多一色城
Founder Isshiki Noriuji; Utsumi-Saji Clan
Year Founded Nanbokuchō Period; Sengoku Period
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Dorui, Horikiri, Kuruwa, Mon
Features gates
Visitor Information
Access Utsumi Station on the Minami-Chita New Line; 20 minute walk to trail
Visitor Information 24/7 free; mountain
Time Required 20 minutes
Location Minami-Chita, Aichi Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 44' 1.50" N, 136° 52' 22.01" E
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Added to Jcastle 2023
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
Friends of JCastle
Jōkaku Shashin Kiroku
Umoreta Kojō
Jōkaku Hōrōki
Aichi no Oshiro Meguri
Aichi Shiro

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