Naganuma Castle (Shinano)


ShinanoNaganumajou (1).JPG


Naganumajō was originally constructed by the Shimaźu Clan in the Muromachi period. The Shimaźu became vassals of the Uesugi Clan, but the clan fell to factional in-fighting in the mid' 16th century, with the Akanuma-Shimaźu wishing to side with the Takeda Clan instead. In 1557, Takeda Shingen conquered Naganumajō. Between 1561 and 1568, Takeda Nobutoyo (Shingen's younger brother) expanded Naganumajō, and it was built up to its greatest extent according to plans laid out by Baba Nobufusa. Takeda forces then used the castle to push further toward Echigo and attack Iiyamajō.

From the late Sengoku period to the early Edo period, Naganumajō had an inner, middle and outer moat. The inner moat surrounded the main bailey, and the middle moat surrounded the second bailey which also surrounded the main bailey on three sides; to the east was the Chikuma River. The middle moat had three umadashi (barbicans), one on each side, with additional crescent-shaped moat segments enclosing the barbicans. The outer moat surrounded the castle-town where the samurai retainers lived.

With the final demise of the Kai-Takeda Clan in 1582 (see Taira-yashiki), Oda Nobunaga briefly annexed their territory, and put his vassals in charge of various Takeda lands; Mori Nagayoshi took over Kaiźujō (see Zenkaizu Castle and Matsushiro Castle). That spring, however, anti-Oda rebels in northern Shinano, supported by Uesugi Kagekatsu and Imogawa Chikamasa, attacked Naganumajō and Iiyamajō. Shimaźu Tadanao took Naganumajō but the Mori rallied and were able to defeat the rebels. It is said over a thousand men were slaughtered at Naganumajō.

Upon Oda Nobunaga's own death shortly thereafter at Honnōji, Mori Nagayoshi fled, and Uesugi Kagekatsu reclaimed northern Shinano, taking over Naganumajō, and using it as a stepping stone toward an attack on Kaiźujō. Shimaźu Tadanao was made castellan of Naganumajō. The castle was repeatedly rebuilt, but retained its layout. During the Uesugi hegemony, the Hokkoku-kaidō, a trade route between Shinano and Echigo, was redirected to run beside the castle, contributing to the prosperity of the castle town.

The Uesugi Clan was relocated by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to Aiźu in 1598, and the Shimaźu Clan followed their masters there. During the Toyotomi hegemony, Seki Kazumasa was appointed as overseer of Naganumajō and surrounding territory. Following the battle of Sekiǵahara, during the Tokugawa hegemony, Matsudaira Tadateru took over the fiefdom of Kawanakajima, and he made one of his vassals called Yamada the castellan of Naganumajō. Matsudaira Tadateru would later be exiled by Tokugawa Ieyasu for his ties to the Toyotomi.

Following the defeat of Toyotomi Hideyori (see Osaka Castle) in 1615, Sakuma Katsuyuki was rewarded with holdings worth 18,000 koku for his service during the Osaka camapaign, and he established Naganuma Domain from Naganumajō, which the Sakuma Clan would continue to govern from until 1688 when the fourth Sakuma patriarch, Sakuma Katsuchika (adopted son of Sakuma Katsutoyo), had his holdings confiscated by the Shogunate for feigning illness to avoid service as Tokugawa Tsunayoshi's attendant. Naganumajō was not just abandoned thereupon, but, it seems, wholly demolished. Tsunayoshi was as a camp, Nero-like tyrant who would frequently mete out excessive punishments, whilst also forcing his samurai and pageboys to perform with him in Nō plays, and so everyone was terrified of both refusing him and being around him.

It would appear that Sakuma Katsuchika received his summons to serve as Tsunayoshi's page in 1685 after meeting the generalissimo. He was then aged 17 and recently engaged (to his adoptive father's biological daughter). It was very unfortunate for Katsuchika that Tsunayoshi took a liking to him. Citing illness, Katsuchika declined the older man's offer, and he shortly thereafter became clan patriarch following the death of his adoptive father. When Tsunayoshi later found out about or suspected Katsuchika of having feigned his illness, he abolished the young lord's domain. Of course, we can't blame the poor lad for not wanting to participate in that old fruit's "theatrics". As for whether Katsuchika was really sick, we don't know, but feigning illness is a good way to diffuse the interest of someone who wants terrible things but to whom one hasn't the power to refuse. Katsuchika, who had been taken in by Nihonmatsu Domain, died of 'non-suspicious' causes at 23 (there was an investigation by the Shogunate). This could just be more poor luck on Katsuchika's part, or he may have always been sickly, though not in an apparent way.

Visit Notes

Naganumajō is an important site in the history of the area, but no ruins remain of this once sprawling flatland castle. The Chikuma River has changed course during the intervening centuries, and now runs straight through the castle site. It's still causing trouble to this day, as river embankments are being rebuilt from the last time it burst its banks, and much of the site is a building-site. Various markers for the castle have disappeared or been relocated as a result. There was a stone marker for the castle near the embankment on a mound which was said to be the only remains of the castle's earthen ramparts, but the river-control embankment has been expanded, and the marker and mound are now gone. I also found a marker for the site of a former samurai residence.

  • Castle layout, historical

Castle Profile
English Name Naganuma Castle (Shinano)
Japanese Name 信濃長沼城
Founder Shimaźu Clan
Year Founded Muromachi Period
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition Ruins only
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Visitor Information
Access Nearest station is Sansai Station on the Kita-Shinano Line; 40 minute walk
Visitor Information 24/7 free; fields
Time Required 15 minutes
Location Nagano, Nagano Prefecture
Coordinates 36° 41' 1.39" N, 138° 16' 25.97" E
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Added to Jcastle 2023
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
Friends of JCastle
Jōkaku Hōrōki

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