Yamaga Jin'ya

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The area was originally controlled by the Waku clan until it was taken by Akechi Mitsuhide as part of the Tamba Campaign. See the profile for Kogamine Castle for more details.

Following the Honnoji Incident, Tani Moritomo was given the lands confiscated by Akechi Mitsuhide including Kogamine Castle, but he decided to build a new fortification lower down the mountainside for convenience. It is likely that the mountaintop castle was also maintained as a tsume-no-shiro, or emergency fortification, in case of siege.

Tani was a loyal retainer of Hideyoshi and fought in campaigns in Kyushu, Odawara and Korea. After the death of Hideyoshi, he allied with Tokugawa Ieyasu and participated in the battles at Osaka too. At the Battle of Sekigahara, Tani Moritomo was part of the forces that surrounded Tanabe Castle. However, Tani had always been good friends with Hosokawa Fujitaka and did not take a sufficiently active role in the siege. This upset Tokugawa Ieyasu, who reduced his landholding from 16,000 to 10,000 koku but allowed him to continue ruling the reduced lands. As a smaller jin'ya class samurai (10,000 koku or less), 17 generations of Tani ruled until the Meiji Restoration.

Visit Notes

For a jin'ya site, there was more here to see than I expected. The site is nestled in a little corner of a small plateau partway up the mountainside with fantastic views of the valley below. It is about a 20 min walk from the valley and former jin'ya town to the jin'ya itself which is unheard of at other ji'ya sites around the country. This gives it some hilltop or mountaintop castle like properties too.

The main area of the jin'ya has some slight earthen embankments remaining and in the back you can find the heavily weeded over ruins of some stone retaining walls. If you take one of the small unmarked side trails on the southwest side of the main bailey area it will take you partway down the hillside around the back of the Jin'ya where you can find a couple big dry moats (typical of mountain castles) and some very nice stone walls which appear to be to prevent erosion than to be used as defensive stone walls, also more typical of mountain castles. Down below this area you will also find some flattened areas for residences.

Although I didn't take many photos of the town surrounding the jin'ya, the layout of roads and plots of land for houses is almost unchanged from the Edo Period and can be easily lined up with Edo Period maps. Some of the stone retaining walls, even though they've been modernized to some extent, are also in place from the Edo Period. I added a few pictures from the main road to the castle below. The combination of Sengoku Period castle features (mountaintop tsume-no-shiro) and a lower castle, which itself evolved from a Sengoku Period castle to an Edo Period jin'ya town are well preserved in their nearly original form. This makes it a unique and historically valuable site. There is a nice map of the jin'ya and Kogamine Castle on the Kyoto Board of Education website: https://www.kyoto-be.ne.jp/bunkazai/cms/?p=2206

The gate is reconstructed. It does not accurately represent a gate of the time but is nice for photos. The interior houses a little collection of artifacts and materials but it's only open by reservation. The main Bailey is well maintained but some of the stonework and features around the edges are obscured by high weeds. I've seen some better photos from just a couple years ago when they cleaned up the site and you could see stone walls and embankments of the main bailey area much better. This is a nice little park that could benefit from a little more maintenance.

This site is not hard to get too but you might burn a lot of time waiting for transportation. There are infrequent busses from Ayabe Sta. that stop relatively close to the site from which it is only about a 10 min walk. The train line between Yamaga and Ayabe does not run frequently so if you can time it to catch a bus from Ayabe it is the best route. On the way back the wait for a return bus was even longer so I walked to Yamaga Station and waited about 30 mins there for the train back to Kyoto.

The history of these two sites (Kogamine Castle and Yamaga Jin'ya) is often conflated and the names used interchangeably but I do not think that is correct nor appropriate. The way I've laid out the history and relation of these two castles most accurately reflects the history and structure of both, but please read the two together for the full picture.

Yamaga Jin'ya and Kogamine Castle are along the same bus route as Kanbayashi Castle and Hekitani Castle so a well planned day could get you to all four sites.

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  • mountain castle in the background

Castle Profile
English Name Yamaga Jin'ya
Japanese Name 山家陣屋
Alternate Names Yamaga-jo
Founder Tani Moritomo
Year Founded 1582
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Historical Period Edo Period
Features gates, trenches, stone walls, castle town
Visitor Information
Access Yamaga Sta. 25 min walk; or bus from Ayabe Sta. to Yamaga bus stop (12 mins) and 15 mins walk
Visitor Information museum open by appointment only
Time Required 45 mins
Website https://www.ayabe-kankou.net/spot/yamagajyoshikoen/
Location Ayabe, Kyoto
Coordinates 35° 18' 2.52" N, 135° 19' 4.91" E
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Added to Jcastle 2024
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 2023
Admin Visits October 22, 2023
Friends of JCastle
Woodland Kyoto (森の京都)
Jokaku Horoki

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