Zaoudou Castle


Zaodoujou (1).JPG


During the period of the Northern and Southern Courts, the Nakajō Clan - in support of the Northern Court - set up their base around the Zaōdō, a hall of worship dedicated to the Zaō Gongen, and this developed into Zaōdōjō. Kazama Nobuaki, lord of Nōminejō - in support of the Southern Court - attacked Zaōdōjō in 1352. Nagao Kageharu, a member of the Koshi-Nagao Clan which would later become the Uesugi Clan, entered Zaōdōjō. Nagao Tameshige, the uncle of Uesugi Kenshin, expanded Zaōdōjō into a robust castle, and the Uesugi Clan would control it until their relocation to Aiźu at the end of the 16th century.

Uesugi territory was taken over by the Hori Clan from 1598, with Hori Hideharu, clan head, installed at Kasugayamajō which was once the Uesugi's head castle. In the proto-modern era Hori Chikayoshi, Hideharu's younger brother, became lord of Zaōdōjō. Chikayoshi's son, Hori Tsuruchiyo, became lord of Zaō Domain as an infant under the guardianship of Hori Naoyori who was lord of Sakado Domain. Tsuruchiyo died as a child, however, and Zaō-han was incorporated into Sakado-han in 1606. In 1610 Hori Naoyori would be transferred by the Shogunate to Iiyama-han, Shinano, and Zaō was taken over by Yamada Hayato as a sub-fief of Fukushima-han under Matsudaira Tadateru, the sixth son of Tokugawa Ieyasu and the son-in-law of Date Masamune. Tadateru would relocate his seat shortly after from Fukushimajō to Takadajō in 1614, and Fukushima-han became Takada-han.

Matsudaira Tadateru of the Echigo-Matsudaira was a tragic figure and was treated coldly by the Tokugawa. He was barred from participating in the Ôsaka Campaigns for much of the conflict. Date Masamune was able to get him a gig but by then it was too late for him to be of much use. Ieyasu wrote him a letter saying he never wanted to see him again. When the Shōgun emeritus fell ill and was dying at Sunpujō, Tadateru went there to make apologies at his father's death bed, but Ieyasu would not see him. Tadateru took up residence at a Zen monastery whilst hoping to be allowed an audience, but Ieyasu would die without reconciliation. Tokugawa Hidetada did not invite Tadateru to the funeral and shortly after exiled him. In 1984, Tokugawa Tsunenari, 18th and present generation head of the Tokugawa Household, granted Tadateru a posthumous pardoning. Tadateru only had to wait over three and a half centuries for it.

Due to Tadateru's banishment Hori Naoyori returned as lord of Zaōdōjō. However, Zaōdōjō would not last long thereafter, having been subject to repeated flooding from the overflow of the Shinano River, and as a result of flooding damage Hori Naoyori relocated to Nagaokajō in 1616. Zaōdōjō was abandoned thereafter and left to ruins. It later became the site of a temple, Anzenji.

Visit Notes

Zaōdōjō is a castle ruin in the Zaō area of Nagaoka City. The ruins features a mizubori (water moat) and dorui (earthen ramparts). The dorui encompasses most of what was once the main bailey, now the site of a temple, and the mizubori covers two sides, passing beneath a bridge. The castle used to have more mizubori and dorui encircling many baileys besides, but most of the area has now been urbanised. Zaōdōjō was abandoned due to flooding in 1616 and replaced by nearby Nagaokajō.

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  • Earthen ramparts and water moat
  • Mizubori
  • Dorui seen from within main bailey
  • 'pon the ramparts!
  • Castle Nawabari

Castle Profile
English Name Zaoudou Castle
Japanese Name 蔵王堂城
Founder Nakajō Clan
Year Founded Nanbokuchō Period
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Local Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Mizubori, Dorui
Features water moats
Visitor Information
Access Nagaoka Station on the Shin'etsu Main Line and Jōetsu Line; 30 minute walk
Visitor Information 24/7; Free; Temple
Time Required 30 minutes
Location Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture
Coordinates 37° 27' 59.51" N, 138° 50' 58.99" E
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Added to Jcastle 2021
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
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