Kuriyagawa no Saku

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KuriyagawaSakuRecon (3).JPG


Kuriyagawa-saku was constructed by the Abe Clan to protect the north of their territory where they had border disputes with the Ōshū Fujiwara. It is now thought that Kuriyagawa-saku functioned as part of a complex of forts in the area.

Kuriyagawa-saku, occupied by Abe Sadatō, was the last stronghold of the Abe Clan before they perished in the Zenkunen War (1051-1063). The Zenkunen War was prompted by disputes between the Abe and the Fujiwara over territory in Tōhoku, as well as the failure of the Abe to send taxes to Heain-kyō (Kyōto). It is said that a thousand men and women were besieged at Kuriyagawa-saku during that conflict, indicating that it was quite a sizable fort. Kuriyagawa-saku was likely destroyed during the Zenkunen War, as its history immediately thereafter is unknown.

Visit Notes

Kuriyagawa-saku, also called Kuriyagawa-no-saku, is a jōsaku site in Morioka Municipality. Jōsaku were walled fortifications with archer platforms and gatehouses used by the expanding Yamato polity to suppress the Emishi in northern Honshū. Jōsaku played both a military and administrative role and were typically built in newly conquered military districts.

The site of Kuriyagawa-saku has been contested in modern times, but it is now generally understod that the Nara period site is that of the temple Tenshōji (no ruins remain of fortifications), and that the Kuriyagawa-tate site where earthworks such as karabori (dry moats) can be seen is a separate site with ruins dating to the medieval period. In the Kamakura period, the Kudō Clan built their residence, known as the Kuriyagawa-tate or Kuriyagawajō, there, and it was abandoned in 1592.

It is now believed that Kuriyagawa-saku was part of a complex of forts which also included the Abe-tate to the north. Kuriyagawa-tate is more likely to be the same site as the Abe-tate, rather than Kuriyagawa-saku - despite the name. Kuriyagawa-saku might more precisely be called Sa-tate then. Neither the Abe-tate site nor the Sa-tate site have been confirmed as being forts used by the Abe Clan.

A speculative reconstruction of Kuriyagawa-saku can be found at the Esashi-Fujiwara Village, a Heian-themed architectural park in Ōshū Municipality. Although I have not yet visited the actual site(s) of Kuriyagawa-saku, I have visited the reconstruction at Esashi-Fujiwara Village. The reconstruction features a gatehouse with turret and archer platform flanked by palings. There are two buildings in the "bailey", perhaps representing guardhouses or barracks. The reconstruction is built between a small valley, unlike the original fortification, and to the rear side there is an open kabukimon (a type of gateway). There is a mysterious stone monument beyond the kabukimon and a dead-end created by the terrain. This is the furthest, quietest corner at the park.

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  • Reconstructions at Esashi-Fujiwara no Sato

Castle Profile
English Name Kuriyagawa no Saku
Japanese Name 厨川柵
Alternate Names Satate (里館)
Founder Abe Clan
Year Founded Nara Period
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Yaguramon (reconstructed)
Features gates, walls
Visitor Information
Access Morioka Station on the Tōhoku Line; or, Aoyama Station on the Iwate Galaxy Railway; 30 minute walk from either station
Visitor Information Reconstruction is at Esashi-Fujiwara Village
Time Required 20 minutes
Website http://www.bunka.pref.iwate.jp/archive/cs35
Location Morioka, Iwate Prefecture
Coordinates 39° 42' 42.05" N, 141° 7' 17.00" E
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Added to Jcastle 2023
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
Friends of JCastle
Nippon Shiro Meguri

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