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Castle Miyakono Castle

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This article is in the series Walking the Japanese Castles
Miyakono Castle (都之城 Miyakono-jō) was a mountain castle (山城 yamashiro) located in Miyakonojo City (都城市) in Miyazaki Prefecture. It was also known as Tsurumaru Castle (鶴丸城 Tsurumaru-jō) and has been designated a Historic Site.


Miyako-no Castle was built by Hongō Yoshihisa (北郷義久), the second head of the Hongō clan in 1375. The Hongō were a branch family of the Shimazu clan. The castle was part of a local network of twelve fortresses, the Shōnai Jūni Tojō (庄内十二外城), the Twelve Outer Shōnai Castles that protected the Miyakonojō Basin. In 1379, the castle played a role in the Battle of Minohara (蓑原の合戦) fought between Shimazu Ujihisa (島津氏久), a cousin of Yoshihisa, and Imagawa Mitsunori (今川満範), a representative of the Northern Court. The coalition of south Kyūshū warrior families managed to repel the attacks of the northern army.

In 1599, the castle became the centre of clan warfare between the Shimazu and the Ijūin, another of their branch families. The Shonai Rebellion (庄内の乱 Shōnai no ran) was the largest civil war within the Shimazu clan and could only be resolved through the intervention of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Due to the conflict, the Shimazu were unable to send large contingents into the battle of Sekigahara (1600).

After the Shonai Rebellion, the castle came again under the control of the Hongō but had to be abandoned in 1615 in the course of the "One domain, one castle" decree (一国一城令 Ikkokuichijō-rei) in which the Tokugawa Shogunate ruled that each domain was only allowed to maintain one castle. In the Edo Period (1603-1867), the Miyakonojō area remained under the control of the Hongō, who again took the Shimazu family name of the main branch.

Topographically, the main enclosure of Miyakono Castle is located on a plateau west of the О̄yodo River (大淀川), while several other enclosures are on the west and the south of the castle.


Based on a map of the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan. The location of the enclosures is estimated.

There is a convenient car park at the Miyakonojo Historical Museum adjacent to the main enclosure. The parking lot is in front of the restored ① Ōtemon (大手門), a photograph of which can be seen above.

The Honmaru is to the left of the museum and the West Castle to the right.


② Honmaru (本丸)

According to the local guide board, this is supposed to be an old entrance, but it did not look old to us at all.


The two mounds on the front are the remnants of the gate.


This looked like remnants of a turret.


The Historical Museum (歴史資料館) looked very unusual. Built with the support of the Forestry Agency, it was constructed mainly of wood.


③ West Castle (西城)

Opposite the main enclosure, the former West Castle (西城 Saijō) now houses Sano Shrine (狭野神社).


④ Outer Castle (外城)

The Outer Castle, Naka-no Castle, and the South Castle are all located across Nippo Main Line.


⑤ Ikeno-ue Castle (池の上城)

A view of Ikenoue Castle on the west side of Saijō.


Iwayoshi Palace (祝吉御所)

Throughout history, the Shimazu enjoyed the image of being the strongmen of southern Kyushu and the daimyō of Satsuma. Still, their humble origins lie in Miyakonojo, Hyuga. This area was called Shimazu in the ancient and medieval times and was the centre of the Shimazu Mishō (島津御荘), one of the leading manours in Japan. It is said that in the first year of Bunji (1185), Minamoto no Yoritomo appointed Koremune no Tadahisa (惟宗忠久) to be the steward (地頭 jitō) of the Shimazu Estate (島津荘). Tadahisa later changed his family name to Shimazu. The monument shown below has been set up at his former residence, northeast of the present-day Hayamizu Park.


Date of visit: 20 October 2013


  • Address: 803 Miyakojimachō, Miyakonojō, Miyazaki 885-0083
  • Access: an 18-minute walk from JR Nippo Line Nishi-Miyakonojō Station; 5 kilometres from Miyazaki Expressway Miyakonojō Interchange via National Route 10
  • Parking: free parking at Shiroyama Park.
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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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〒885-0083 宮崎県都城市都島町803

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