Okayama Jin'ya

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OkayamaJinya (1).JPG


Okayama-jin'ya was founded in 1600 by Kira Yoshimitsu, following the abandonment of Tsubaki-yashiki, the residence of Kira Yoshisada, to lord over his holdings of around 3,000 koku. From 1643, Kira Yoshifuyu took over from his father, and his holdings increased to 4,200 koku. Okayama-jin'ya is also known as the Kira-jin'ya, after the Kira Clan that ruled here.

From 1668 until 1702, the Okayama Domain's lord was none other than Kira Yoshinaka who was assassinated by the 47 Akō rōnin in 1703. Due to dramatic re-tellings of the story of the 47 rōnin, in which Kira is a corrupt official who insults and sneers at the young lord he is assigned to tutor, provoking him to attack in defence of his honour, Kira's legacy is infamous, and he is widely regarded as a villain.

However, here in his ancestral township, Kira Yoshinaka is highly regarded, and known by the familiar name 'Kira-sama'. To the north of the jin'ya we can see Lord Kira's true legacy: a large dike built to protect the crops of the villagers from flooding. Construction of this impressive dike was in itself no mean feat, requiring the labour of every peasant in the domain, but it also faced powerful political opposition.

Upstream from Kira-sama's land was territory controlled by the neighbouring Nishio Domain. Nishio Domain firmly opposed the construction of Kira's dike, likely concerned that if the dike was breeched it would cause flooding in their own territory. Kira was a minor lord and could not continue without support from his more powerful neighbour. As such, Kira, ever the modest yet capable administrator, allayed fears by promising that if the dike failed then he would never attempt to rebuild it. Kira staked everything on the dike, but it never burst, and stands to this day. Protected by the dike, the peasants' fields became filled with golden rice, giving the dike its name, Kogane-źumi ('the golden dike'). In this small township, perhaps alone in all of Japan, Kira Yoshinaka's legacy is celebrated.

Kira Yoshinaka retired in December 1702, and his son, Kira Yoshichika, became leader of the domain, aged 18. The Akō rōnin, who assassinated Yoshinaka in January 1703, had planned to kill Yoshichika if they could not get to Yoshinaka. Yoshichika was also present during the raid on the Kira mansion in Edo on that faithful day. The young lord took up a naginata and attempted to fight the rōnin, but was slashed on his face and back by rōnin Takebayashi Takashige, and passed out. The rōnin, having already taken their revenge on Kira Yoshinaka himself, did not finish off Lord Yoshichika.

In the following March, with the scandal of the Akō Rōnin still fresh, Kira Yoshichika was summoned by the Shogunate. He was stripped of his domain for failing to prevent the attack of the rōnin (it wasn't due to any failing on his part, but the Shogunate often punished both parties in a such a dispute). Men from Suwa-Takashima Domain were waiting outside of the court for Yoshichika. He was taken away in a criminal's netted litter. He died in exile in Suwa in 1706 due to a colic condition, ending the Kira line.

Okayama-jin'ya was handed over to Tsuda Masafusa in 1705, and it was the Tsuda Clan, and not the Kira Clan, that reigned there until the Meiji Restoration and the abolition of feudalism in 1871. Certainly the Akō Rōnin had got their revenge on Kira Yoshinaka.

Visit Notes

Okayama-jin'ya is a jin'ya site in Okayama village in the Kira Township of Nishio Municipality. No ruins remain, but there is a sign board and some monuments along with a half-sized reconstructed gate. The gate represents the jin'ya's omotemon (main gate). I hadn't seen such a gate reproduced at half-size before, and thought it was cute.

I have included in this set some pictures of a large dike called Kogane-źumi. The dike, which is 180m long and 5m tall, was built by Kira Yoshinaka in the 1670s in a reclaimed swamp called Yoroiǵafuchi. The name of that locality gets it name from the 1561 battle wherein Kira Yoshiaki decisively defeated Matsudaira Yoshikage. It is said that, after the battle, armour and weapons were pulled from the swamp in great quantities.

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  • Jin'ya gate reproduction
  • Site of battle of Yoroigafuchi
  • Dike

Castle Profile
English Name Okayama Jin'ya
Japanese Name 岡山陣屋
Alternate Names Kira-jin'ya (吉良陣屋)
Founder Kira Yoshimitsu
Year Founded 1600
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Historical Period Edo Period
Artifacts Omote-mon (reconstruction), Dorui
Features gates
Visitor Information
Access Kami-Yokosuka Station on the Meitetsu-Nishio Line; 30 minute walk
Visitor Information 24/7 free; park
Time Required 30 minutes
Website https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%B2%A1%E5%B1%B1%E9%99%A3%E5%B1%8B
Location Nishio, Aichi Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 50' 28.28" N, 137° 5' 8.77" E
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Added to Jcastle 2023
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
Friends of JCastle
Jōkaku Hōrōki
Jōkaku Shashin Kiroku

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