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Castle Sanuki Castle

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Sanuki Castle (佐貫城 Sanuki-jō) was a Japanese castle located in Sanuki, Futtsu, Chiba Prefecture. It was the seat of the Sanuki clan during the Edo period (1603-1867).

Sanuki Castle (佐貫城)

Sanuki Castle was a hilltop castle (山城 yamashiro) controlling the strategically important transport hub that linked Kazusa (上総) and Awa (安房) and faced the Miura Peninsula across the Uraga Channel. The area was the scene of fierce battles between the Satomi and the Hōjō clans.

Sanuki Castle (佐貫城)

Based on the Aerial Photograph Service of the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan. The location of the enclosures is estimated.


There are two theories as to when the castle was built: one says it was built during the Bun'an era (1444-1449) by the Nagao clan (長尾氏), retainers of the Yamanouchi-Uesugi, the Kantō kanrei (関東管領), and the other says it was built by the Mariyatsu Takeda clan (真里谷武田氏) in the Onin era (1467-68). In 1537, during a struggle for succession in the Mariyatsu clan, Mariyatsu Nobutaka (真里谷信隆), supported by the Hōjō clan, took up residence at Sanuki Castle, but it was attacked and fell to Mariyatsu Nobumasa (真里谷信応), who was backed by Ashikaga Yoshiaki (足利義明) and Satomi Yoshitaka (里見義堯, 1507-1574).

In 1541, the castle came under the control of Satomi Yoshitaka, who expanded his power from Awa to Kazusa. Meanwhile, the Hōjō also aimed to expand their power in the region, and in 1544, Hōjō Tsunanari (北条綱成) took Sanuki Castle. From then on, the area changed hands several times between the Satomi and Hōjō. In 1567, the Hōjō, victorious in the Second Battle of Kōnodai, despatched an army but were repulsed by the Satomi clan at Mount Mifune (三船山), four kilometres north of Sanuki Castle. In 1578, Satomi Yoshihiro (里見義弘) died of illness at Sanuki Castle.

In 1590, Toyotomi Hideyoshi started his final campaign against the Hōjō clan. Satomi Yoshiyasu, in an attempt to recover his former territories, moved to attack the Hōjō strongholds in Kazusa. These attacks, however, took place without Hideyoshi's permission or coordination with his generals. Due to this insubordination and Yoshiyasu's belated arrival in the Siege of Odawara Hideyoshi subsequently reduced the Satomi clan's holding to Awa Province. Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was put into control of the Kantō region, gave the castle to the Naitō clan.

In 1622, Matsudaira Tadashige (松平忠重, 1601-1639) replaced the Naitō clan and established the Sanuki domain. When Matsudaira Shigeharu (松平重治, 1642-1685) was exiled in 1684, the castle was abandoned. In 1688, Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu (柳沢吉保), who Tokugawa Tsunayoshi heavily favoured, became the new daimyō of the domain. However, Yoshiyasu was transferred to Kawagoe in 1694, and the castle was again abandoned. In 1710, Abe Masatane (阿部正鎮, 1700-1751) became the new lord and restored Sanuki Castle. Finally, in 1871, Sanuki Castle was abandoned for the third and last time with the abolition of feudal domains.

The castle:

The castle was built along a hillside between the Somegawa (染川) and Kitakami (北上川) rivers, with the Honmaru, the Ninomaru and the Sannomaru set up in a continuous line.

Sanuki Castle (佐貫城)

Based on the Aerial Photograph Service of the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan. The location of the enclosures is estimated.

We took the train to the castle: Sanukimachi Station (佐貫町駅) on the Uchibo Line is the nearest station. It takes less than thirty minutes to walk from the station to the ruins of the Otemon Gate. There are public buses, too, but they run very infrequently. Take the bus bound for Mother Farm from Sanukimachi Station and get off at Gobouyatsu. If you come by car, please note that there is no dedicated parking area. If you visit on a holiday, it might be easier to park around Sanuki Junior High School.

① Ruins of Otemon Gat (大手門跡)

The uniquely shaped stone wall with rounded corners survived the centuries.

Sanuki Castle (佐貫城)

② Sannomaru (三の丸)

The third enclosure lies on three levels. The photo shows the lower level, where the grass has been cut to allow visitors to cross.

Sanuki Castle (佐貫城)

This is a path cut through hills between the Ninomaru and Sannomaru.

Sanuki Castle (佐貫城)

③ Ninomaru (二の丸)

Sanuki Castle (佐貫城)

④ Dobashi (土橋)

An earthen bridge between the Honmaru and Ninomaru. The castle retains the atmosphere of a typical Sengoku-era hilltop castle, with its irregularly shaped enclosures and terrain, despite being the seat of a clan during the Edo period.

Sanuki Castle (佐貫城)

This is a shallow dry moat between the Honmaru and Ninomaru.

Sanuki Castle (佐貫城)

⑤ Honmaru (本丸)

Sanuki Castle (佐貫城)

⑥ Observatory (物見台)

The north and west sides of the Honmaru are raised to form a watchtower. Beyond this lies a precipice.

Sanuki Castle (佐貫城)

Almost the same view can be seen from the north and west sides, but the west side seemed to have a slightly better view. You can look down on the Uraga Channel and the Miura Peninsula on the other side of the river.


View of Castle Mountain from the Gobouyatsu Valley to the east. It does not look impregnable. However, the exciting thing about history is that this seemingly ordinary-looking castle has had a history of intense action throughout the Sengoku and Edo periods, as described above.

Sanuki Castle (佐貫城)

Date of visit: 26 January 2014


  • Address: 582 Sanuki, Futtsu, Chiba 293-0058
  • Access: a 25-minute walk from Sanukimachi Station on the JR Uchibo Line.
    Three kilometres from Futtsu Chuo Interchange of Tateyama Road via Route 127.
  • Parking: no parking lot.
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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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〒293-0058 千葉県富津市佐貫582

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