Katahara Castle (Mikawa)

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MikawaKataharajou (1).jpg


According to legend, Kataharajō was founded by Katanohara Motomitsu in the late Heian period, but this is not confirmed. From what remains, it is thought Kataharajō was built circa 1488 by Matsudaira Tomosuke, the fourth son of Matsudaira Nobumitsu. Matsudaira Nobumitsu had conquered the area in 1465 after defeating Ôba Jirōzaemon at the behest of the Muromachi-bakufu (Ashikaga Shogunate). Kataharajō then became the base of the Katahara-Matsudaira Clan. However, in the following decades, the Katahara distanced themselves from the Matsudaira, and pledged fealty to the Imagawa Clan.

In 1560, Imagawa Yoshimoto was slain at the battle of Okehazama, and, following this loss to Oda Nobunaga, the Imagawa retreated away from Owari. Many clans in Mikawa switched their allegiances from the Imagawa to the Matsudaira at this time. In 1547, Matsudaira Hiroie, lord of Kataharajō, was temporarily replaced by the Imagawa as castellan by Okudaira Sadatomo, though he was eventually given his castle back. He was compelled to divorce his wife who was from the Mizuno Clan which had strong ties to the Oda Clan. Perhaps remembering this poor treatment, in 1561 Hiroie rebelled against the Imagawa following their defeat at Okehazama. The Imagawa held many hostages from the Matsudaira-Katahara Clan to ensure their obedience. When Hiroie rebelled, these hostages, mostly women and children, were ferried out and lined up on Inao beach where they could be easily seen from Kataharajō by their menfolk, and, at the order of Imagawa Ujizane, they were executed, their heads skewered on stakes in the sand. Hiroie's young son was among those killed. This is recorded in the Katahara-ki. Members of the Okudaira Clan carried out the execution. The Imagawa would be forced back to Imabashijō (Yoshida Castle) the following year, and then later defeated there a few years after that in a battle which Ietada, Iehiro's oldest son, participated in.

Kataharajō was abandoned in 1590 following the relocation of Tokugawa Ieyasu and his entire franchise to Kantō. It was temporarily re-occupied, or at least the foot of the castle mount was, from 1601 to 1619, when hatamoto (bannerman) Matsudaira Ienobu was granted a small fief valued at 5,000 koku in Katahara encompassing some thirteen villages, and built a jin'ya on the site of Kataharajō. Katahara Domain was officially founded in 1618 when Ienobu's holdings were increased to 15,000 koku (the additional territory included lands in Awa Province), but Ienobu was further enfeoffed the following year with 20,000 koku in Settsu, and he relocated to Takatsuki Castle. Thereupon Katahara Domain was abolished and the jin'ya was decommissioned. This means that in its final year Katahara-jin'ya was upgraded from a tenryō (Shogunal) jin'ya to a (minor) daimyō jin'ya. I wonder how many jin'ya were upgraded like that...

To the west of the castle mount are neighbourhood names (koaza) such as Kitakojō ('North Old Castle') and Minamikojō ('South Old Castle'), indicating that the size of the castle was quite large and had a flatland section at the foot of the mount. These expanded areas make Kataharajō a true hirayamajiro (flatland-plus-hilltop castle). Lower baileys would've been necessary to accomodate residential structures at the narrow topmost bailey was probably just used as a lookout. Alternative names for the castle were Inōjō (稲生城) and 海岩城 (Kaiganjō?), the latter due to its position overlooking Mikawa Bay.

Visit Notes

Kataharajō is a hilltop fort site in the Katahara area of Gamagôri Municipality. The castle-mount has no readily discernable ruins except for maybe terraces which were once baileys, and the site is now a shrine to Inari (Kojō-Inari ('Old Castle Inari')). The shrine is given over to nature it seems, and the site was overgrown and gloomy. There was an intensity of ants and mosquitoes, but luckily mozzies tend to find me unappetising and I wasn't bitten. An explanation board and marker post for the castle can be found on the shrine grounds at the top of the hill.

Even though it was already autumn (though still hot) and most of the cicadas had died off, there was a ringing throughout the shrine grounds of a curious chirping. There I found it in a tree; the tsukutsukubōshi, a sub-species of cicada. The tsukutsukubōshi (meimuma opalifera) heralds the transition from summer to autumn with its distinctive chirp; the summer heat lingers, but it's gradually getting cooler (the call of the aburazemi (graptopsaltria nigrofuscata) is that of deep summer). 'Tsuktsuku' is onomatopoeiac, and 'bōshi' refers to a priest. It makes me think of a wandering priest with a walking staff with bells attached.

  • Castle marker

Castle Profile
English Name Katahara Castle (Mikawa)
Japanese Name 三河形原城
Alternate Names 稲生城 (Inōjō)・海岩城
Founder Katanohara Motomitsu; Matsudaira Tomosuke
Year Founded Late Heian Period; 1488
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Local Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Visitor Information
Access Nishiura Station on the Meitetsu-Gamagôri Line; 12 minute walk
Visitor Information 24/7 free; shrine
Time Required 15 minutes
Website https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%BD%A2%E5%8E%9F%E5%9F%8E
Location Gamagôri, Aichi Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 47' 25.55" N, 137° 11' 9.46" E
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Added to Jcastle 2023
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
Friends of JCastle
Jōkaku Shashin Kiroku
Umoreta Kojō
Shiseki Yawa
Nihon Shiro Meguri
Jōkaku Hōrōki
Kojō Seisuiki
Aichi Shiro

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