The history of Tochigijō lasts a mere 12 years from 1591 to 1603. It was built by Minagawa Hiroteru in 1591. The Minagawa Clan moved their base from the mountain castle Minagawajō to Tochigijō on flatland, a common occurrence during the late Sengoku period and early Edo period. During the Fall of the Hōjō the Minagawa initially were against Toyotomi Hideyoshi, but quickly changed their minds when Minagawajō was besieged by his forces. For his deft assessment of his strategic position and ready switch of allegiances, Minagawa Hiroteru maintained his position and relocated to Tochigijō after Hideyoshi's unification of Japan. Hiroteru supported Tokugawa Ieyasu in the Battle of Sekigahara and was a vassal of Ieyasu's sixth son, Matsudaira Tadateru. Tadateru was relocated to Iiyamajō in Shinano in 1603 and the Minagawa clan went with him, abandoning Tochigijō. In 1609 Hiroteru lost his position due to political intrigue within the Matsudaira Clan. If any Minagawa men were still at Tochigijō then they would've abandoned the castle at that time.
There's not much left to see at Tochigijō today. There is a corner segment of mizubori (water moat) partially surrounding a small hill, which I presumed to be a yaguradai (platform for a turret structure). The stonework wrapping around the hillock is immediately recognisable as modern, smooth egg-shaped stones held in place by concrete. The watermoat is likewise lined with concrete. The honmaru (main bailey) is now a small park. Looking at a sign about the castle in front of a big western-style house, I noticed an old lady in the garden there and asked her about the castle (being in front of her property it felt rude not to say something). It turned out her house had a small museum inside about the castle. The display was focused on a scroll, a renga, handed down by Minagawa Hiroteru, the castle lord, to his retainer Sakamoto, an ancestor of the old lady. I had noticed that the name plate on the large traditional house next door read 'Sakamoto'. The old lady brought out a copy of the scroll, for the original she kept under lock and key in the study. Meetings for composing Renga were also important chances to exchange political information and clandestine intelligence for bushi, she was saying. His lordship gave Sakamoto the makimono as a token of appreciation for his service at Tochigijō and it was preserved as a an heirloom by the family which still lives next to the castle to this day, which I think is incredible. The house on Google maps is labelled Sakamoto Yohē Gallery.
|English Name||Tochigi Castle|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Designations||Local Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Access||Tochigi Station on Tobu Nikko and Ryomo Lines|
|Visitor Information||Free 24/7|
|Time Required||30 minutes|
|Location||Tochigi, Tochigi Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 22' 31.44" N, 139° 44' 35.92" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2018|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|