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Castle Kitagata Castle

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Kitagata Castle (北方城) is a flat castle located in Kitagata Town, Motosu-gun, about five kilometres northwest of central Gifu City. It was designated a Historical Site of Gifu Prefecture.

Kitagata Castle (北方城)

The castle was built and occupied by Iga Taroemon Mitsunari (伊賀太郎衛門光就). The fourth lord of the castle, Iga Taroemon Morinari (伊賀太郎衛門守就) changed his name to Ando Morinari. Initially, Morinari was a vassal of Toki Yorinari (土岐頼芸), but when Mino was taken by Saitō Dōsan (斎藤道三), he served as Dōsan's vassal. Along with Inaba Yoshimichi (稲葉良通) and Ujiie Naomoto (氏家直元), he is said to have been called the Western Mino Triumvirate (西美濃三人衆 Nishimino sanninshu).

In 1556, Morinari cooperated with Saitō Yoshitatsu (斎藤義龍) in the conflict between Dōsan and Yoshitatsu (長良川の戦い, Battle of the Nagara River) and served Saitō Tatsuoki after Yoshitatsu's death. In 1567, he secretly supported Oda Nobunaga's invasion of Mino with the other members of the triumvirate and continued to serve Nobunaga as a vassal, participating in the Battle of Anegawa in 1570 and in the suppression of the Nagashima Ikkō Uprising. He later became the lord of Kitagata Castle. However, in 1580, he was expelled by Nobunaga for the crime of secretly communicating with Takeda Katsuyori of Kai Province, and Inaba Yoshimichi became the Castelan.

In 1582, when the Honnoji Incident occurred and Nobunaga was killed by his vassal Akechi Mitsuhide , Morinari and his son Naonari raised an army to seize Kitagata Castle in an attempt to make a comeback. However, he was attacked and killed by Inaba Yoshimichi, and Kitagata Castle was abandoned. Kitagata Jin'ya (北方陣屋) was constructed in 1668 on the site of Kitagata Castle and became the jin'ya ((陣屋, administrative headquarters) of Toda Mitsunao (戸田光直), the third son of Matsudaira Mitsushige (松平光重), the lord of the Kano Domain in Mino Province, a 5,000-koku hatamoto (旗本, a guardian of the banner). The ruins of the castle were designated as a prefectural historic site on 11 November 1973.

We knew from our research beforehand that few remains survived, but today we decided to visit the castle because we wanted to see the residence of the Nishimino sanninshu during our visit to Gifu Castle. We knew the location of the castle ruins from a preliminary investigation, but we had a hard time parking the car. In conclusion, it seemed safe to stop in front of the Northern Tourist Information Centre near the entrance to Enkyō-ji Temple.

Kitagata Castle (北方城)

Aerial photographs taken from Geographical Survey Institute maps. The location of the enclosures is estimated.

Enkyoji Rōmon Gate (円鏡寺楼門, Enkyōji Rōmon)

This tower gate was built in the Kamakura period and is designated as an important cultural property. It is said that it became a model for the south gate of Meiji-Jingu because of its beautiful shape.

Kitagata Castle (北方城)

The moat river (堀川 horigawa) is barely a reminder that it was a castle site. It flowed along the western edge of the castle. The northern encampments (陣屋 jin'ya) of the Edo period were also set up on both banks of this moat.

Kitagata Castle (北方城)

Oi Shrine (大井神社)

The shrine was located northwest of the castle.

Kitagata Castle (北方城)

Castle monument (城址碑)

The photo at the beginning is the castle monument. I think it was in the centre of the former castle. I'm unsure if this can be called a reconstruction drawing, but I'll reproduce it just in case.

Kitagata Castle (北方城)

Date of visit: 22 March 2014


  • Address: 249 Kitagata, Motosu District, Gifu 501-0431
  • Access: from JR Tōkaidō Main Line/Gifu Station, Meitetsu Nagoya Main Line / Meitetsu Gifu Station, change to a bus and get off at Kitakata Ipponmatsu.
    Sixteen kilometres from Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway Gifu Kakamigahara Interchange via Route 21.
  • Parking: parking lot in front of the Northern Tourist Information Book next to Enkyōji Temple.
  • Other sites: Gifu Castle
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About author
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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〒501-0431 岐阜県本巣郡北方町北方249

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