Kiyosaki Castle (Echigo)
In 1598, Toyotomi Hideyoshi granted the Hori Clan Echigo Province, and Hori Hideharu moved into kasugayamajō from Kitanoshōjō in Echizen. He placed Hori Kiyoshige in charge of Nechijō, but in 1601, out of economic considerations, the Hori relocated and built Kiyosakijō, a flatland castle, in Itoigawa, which was a prosperous salt production area and harbour town. Hori Saemon served as castellan of Kiyosakijō. In 1610 Matsudaira Tadateru, lord of Echigo-Fukushimajō, took over the former Hori territory, and he appointed Matsudaira Nobumune as castellan of Kiyosakijō. At this time Kiyosakijō was the centre of a branch feif worth 16,500 koku. Matsudaira Nobunao would follow his father as lord of the castle. Kiyosakijō was a branch castle of Fukushimajō until 1614 when the Echigo-Matsudaira relocated their main base to Takadajō. In 1624 the new lord of Takadajō, Matsudaira Tadamasa, appointed Inaba Masanari as castellan of Kiyosakijō, and the Inaba lorded over a feif worth 20,000 koku. In 1627 Matudaira Mitsunaga became lord of Takadajō (aged 11) and appointed Ogita Nagashige as castellan of Kiyosakijō. The sub-domain at this time was worth 14,000 koku only. Ogita Hayato succeeded Nagashige but was crushed to death in an earthquake which struck Takadajō in 1666. The Ogita Clan continued to rule Kiyosakijō until 1681 when Lord Mitsunaga was ousted after being held responsible for the Echigo Troubles, a clan dispute over leadership. The domain was abolished and Kiyosakijō was abandoned as a result of the troubles. It would eventually be replaced by the Itoigawa-jin'ya in 1717.
Kiyosakijō is now the site of Itoigawa City Hall in the west, and a religious complex in the east which includes the Nunakawa-jinja and Ichinomiya Park. Seasoned castle explorers will be able to detect the presence of historical fortifications here but I suppose they are by no means obvious to the casual visitor or pilgrim. The earthworks ruins are found chiefly in the north of the shrine’s precincts where there are the remains of dorui (earthen ramparts) and a mizubori (moat). The mizubori runs either side of the shrine’s causeway and torii, disguising itself as a pond. It becomes a karabori (dry moat) a bit further along where the road climbs. It is this northern portion which most resembles a castle ruin. The mizubori is thought to have ran where the shrine’s causeway now is, and the earth on each side here is heaped up, forming a funnel. In that case there would’ve been a bailey on both sides of this causeway.
The shrine itself has some beautiful architecture, including the thatched roof honden (main hall), and is worth a visit when in Itoigawa. There is an ishigaki platform in the middle of the shrine grounds before the honden. It’s built for the shrine, of course, but looks sort of like a diminutive tenshudai (donjon platform), which amused me. There’s nothing on it now and I don’t know what it was for. Any ruins to the west have been crushed beneath the modern town hall building.
|English Name||Echigo Kiyosaki Castle|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Historical Period||Edo Period|
|Access||Itoigawa Station on the Oh'ito and Nihonkai Hisui lines; 10 minute walk|
|Visitor Information||24/7; Free; Shrine|
|Time Required||40 minutes|
|Location||Itoigawa, Niigata Prefecture|
|Coordinates||37° 2' 26.09" N, 137° 51' 50.98" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2021|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|
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