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Castle Akadate Castle

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Akadate Castle (赤館城 Akadate-jō) is a mountain castle built on a hill in Tanagura, Fukushima .

Akadate Castle (赤館城)


This hill is only 345 metres high, but it was the dividing line between the Kantō and Tōhoku regions, connecting Ibaraki along the Kuji River to the south and Fukushima and Miyagi along the Abukuma River to the north. The route along the river, which corresponds to today's Suigun Line, was a vital trunk line, and the Tanagura area became a military strategic point where the forces of Kantō and Ōshu fought each other.

In the early Kamakura Period , Akadate was the domain of the Date family (伊達氏). Still, from the Nanbokucho period onwards, it came under the control of the Shirakawa Yuki clan (白川結城氏), based in Shirakawa.

In the first half of the 16th century, the Satake clan (佐竹氏), based in Hitachi-ōta, expanded their power along the Kuji River and came to control the Tanagura area. Meanwhile, in 1571, Shirakawa Yoshichika (白川義親, 1541-1626) launched a campaign to reclaim his territory, which resulted in fierce fighting. The Late Hōjō clan (後北条氏) also attacked the Satake clan and made peace by abandoning Akadate. However, the Satake clan launched annual attacks to recapture the territory. The Shirakawa Yuki clan opposed this, initially with the Ashina clan (蘆名氏) and, after the fall of the Ashina clan, with Date Masamune.

In 1590, after the Odawara offensive, the Shirakawa Yuki clan was destroyed in Ōshu and Akadate was recognised as the territory of the Satake clan. During the Battle of Sekigahara, Satake Yoshinobu (佐竹義宣, 1570-1633) was ordered to attack Uesugi after having once joined the Tokugawa side. Still, it is said that he stayed here in Akadate to see how things went. However, this led to Yoshinobu's transfer to Akita in 1602, reducing the number of stones.

Later, in 1609, Tachibana Muneshige (立花宗茂, 1567-1643), a fierce general from Kyūshū who had once been a rōnin, was restored to the feudal lordship as lord of Akadate Castle. In 1622, when Muneshige was transferred to his former residence in Yanagawa (柳川), Niwa Nagashige (丹羽長重, 1571-1637) became the new castellan. Incidentally, Niwa Nagashige also lost his domain during the Battle of Sekigahara and was later restored as a feudal lord. However, Nagashige built Tanagura Castle on a flatter site and abandoned Akadate Castle. The ruins of the castle are now Akadate Park.

The castle's layout is centred on the first enclosure, with a long, narrow belt ring enclosing the southeast side of the castle. The ridges extending to the northwest and south are fitted with empty moats and earthworks. The Hinoki River flows to the southwest.

Akadate Castle (赤館城)

From a local information board

Akadate Castle (赤館城)

Aerial photographs taken from Geographical Survey Institute maps. The location of the enclosures is estimated.
We drove 20 kilometres from Shin-Shirakawa on an almost flat, straight road to Tanagura. It is conveniently accessible from Shirakawa, as it was once the territory of the Shirakawa Yuki clan.

Along Prefectural Road 25, a little north of Tanagura town centre, you will see a sign for Akadate Park, so take the turn. Climb up the narrow road, and you will find the park at the top of the mountain, with a parking area.

① The first enclosure (一番平)

The area is quite large, although some empty moat seems to have been filled in.

Akadate Castle (赤館城)


Akadate Castle (赤館城)

Near the entrance to the park, jutting out to the northwest, are the remains of what appear to be earthworks.



Akadate Castle (赤館城)

② Northwestern remains (北西遺構群)

The remains on the northwest side are in relatively good condition. You can reach the remains from the back of the square with the signboard "Ichibandaira Parking Lot" in front of Akakan Park. There are no well-maintained paths, but as it was early spring, the vegetation wasn't too overgrown yet, so we could look around to our heart's content.

Ruins of a circle jutting out on the northwest side.

akadate-castle-08.jpg

The photo makes it difficult to see, but a vacant moat surrounds the circle, and an earthwork is built further outside.

Akadate Castle (赤館城)

③ Obikuruwa (帯曲輪)

On the southeastern sidehere was the obiguruwa (帯曲輪).

Akadate Castle (赤館城)

Returning from the first enclosure, we had a magnificent view of Tanagura Town.

Akadate Castle (赤館城)


Date of visit: 3 May 2014



Access:

  • Address: Furogasawa Tanagura, Higashishirakawa District, Fukushima 963-6131
  • Access: a 20-minute walk from JR Suigun Line Iwaki-Tanakura Station; 25km from Tohoku Expressway Shirakawa Interchange via National Route 289
  • Parking: Akadate Park Parking Lot (Spot 'P' on the map above)
  • Other sights: Tanagura Castle
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Hiroto Uehara
Hiroto is an ordinary Japanese office worker, but his true mission is searching for castles on the weekend.

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Hiroto Uehara
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Furogasawa Tanagura, Higashishirakawa District, Fukushima 963-6131

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