Moji Castle


MojijouChris (1).jpg


According to records including the Buzenshi, Moji Castle was built in 1185 by Taira no Tomomori's vassal Kii Michisuke around the time of the Battle of Dan-no-ura, which took place in the waters below the mountain. In 1255, Fujiwara no Chikafusa entered the castle as Buzen Daikanshi and began to call himself Moji, establishing the Moji clan. During the Nanbokucho, or Northern and Southern Courts period, the Moji clan was split, with Moji Castle’s castellan, Moji Chikahisa supporting the Northern Court and Moji Chikayori of nearby Sarubuki-jo joining the Southern Court.

During the Sengoku period, battles surrounding the castle continued, and in 1430, Akizuki Harutane and Harada Nobutomo attacked the Ouchi clan and captured the strategically important Moji Castle. It remained as a castle of the Ouchi clan, but after the Taineiji Incident in 1551, and the Battle of Itsukushima, as a part of the non-aggression pact between the Mori clan and the Otomo clan, Buzen Province and Moji Castle became the property of the Otomo clan. However, in 1558, the Mori clan’s general Kobayakawa Takakage attacked and captured Moji Castle and appointed Niho Takayoshi as its master.

In 1561, tens of thousands of Otomo Yoshishige's forces attacked Moji-jo Castle (Battle of Moji-jo Castle), however, the Mori clan repulsed them. Taking advantage of this defeat, Otomo Yoshishige became a monk and took the name Sorin, and proceeded with reconciliation negotiations through the shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru.

Otomo Sorin then recaptured the castle in September of 1559. The Mori, led by Kobayakawa Takakage quickly recaptured the castle yet again.

In 1561, Otomo Sorin’ forces attacked Moji Castle supported by the Portuguese who provided three ships around 550tons, each with a 300 man crew and 17 or 18 cannons each. This is believed to be the first bombardment by foreign ships on Japan. The Portuguese withdrew having spent their ammunition, which was enough for the Oomo troops to establish themselves around Moji castle.

The defenders managed to break the siege lines and supplies and reinforcements the castle. An all-out assault by the Otomo on the castle on 10 Oct. 1561 failed, and the castle finally remained in Mori possession.

When Hosokawa Tadaoki entered Buzen Province in 1600, Moji Castle was repaired and Nagaoka Kageyoshi was placed in charge of the castle. In mid-April of 1612, Miyamoto Musashi took refuge in Moji Castle immediately following the duel with Sasaki Kojiro on Ganryujima. Musashi and Nagaoka Kageyoshi had long been on good terms, however, following the bout, the late Sasaki Kojiro’s followers, outraged at the loss of their master, spread false rumors about Musashi, to the extent that Lord Nagaoka asked Musashi to leave the castle.

Moji Castle was abandoned in 1617. The Shimonoseki fortress of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Shimonoseki fortress was built on the site in 1892, and so most of the remains were destroyed, but some ishigaki stone walls from the past still remain.

Visit Notes

Moji Castle is a Yamajiro (mountain castle) in Moji, Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture. Built on the 175m high mountain on the eastern side of the great Kanmon Bridge strategically overlooking a narrow stretch of the Shimonoseki Kanmon Straights, and providing fine views of the northern and southern coastlines. The ruins of the castle have been maintained as Wabukari Park.

The mountain is mostly covered in trees and thick vegetation hiding any other castle fortifications, however, what appears to have been a large kuruwa (bailey) could be seen about 8m below the southern end of the Honmaru.

Although mostly unknown, Moji Castle is an easy to climb castle site in a difficult to access location.

Profile by ChrisG (edited by ART).

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  • Main bailey and stele monument
  • Dorui
  • Terraced bailey and earthen ramparts
  • Masonry remains

Castle Profile
English Name Moji Castle
Japanese Name 門寿城
Alternate Names Buzen-Mojijō
Founder 1185
Year Founded Kii Michisuke
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Ishigaki, Kuruwa, Dorui, Koshikuruwa
Features stone walls
Visitor Information
Access Norfolk Hiroba Station or Kanmonkaikyōmekari Station on the Moji Port Retro Train
Visitor Information 24/7 free; mountain
Time Required
Location Kitakyūshū, Fukuoka Prefecture
Coordinates 33° 57' 29.45" N, 130° 58' 7.25" E
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Added to Jcastle 2022
Contributor 豪谷
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
Friends of JCastle
Jōkaku Hōrōki

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