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Castle Taka Castle

This article is in the series Walking the Japanese Castles
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Taka Castle (高城 Taka-jō) is located in the heart of Miyazaki Prefecture. It was constructed on a long and narrow plateau between the Omaru (小丸川) and the Kirihara (切原川) rivers. It was one of the famous 48 castles of the Itō (伊東四十八城 Itō shitoya-jō) and is a Designated Cultural Property of Kijō Town.

Taka Castle (高城) 01


It is not clear when the castle was constructed, but it is said that the earliest earthworks can be dated to the Taihō era (大宝, 701-704). In 1335, Tokihisa (時久), the fourth son of Shimazu Tadamune (島津忠宗, 1251-1325), built the castle when he was appointed steward (地頭 jitō) of the Niiroin estate by Ashikaga Takauji. From that time, Tokihisa adopted the name of the Niiro (新納) clan. In 1350, while Tokihisa was on his way to Kyōto, Hatakeyama Tadaaki (畠山直顕), who sided with Ashikaga Tadayoshi, attacked and took Taka Castle. In December 1357, the Tsuchimochi (土持) clan was granted stewardship of Niiroin. When Itō Suketaka defeated Tsuchimochi Kagetsuna (土持景綱) in July 1457, ten castles belonging to the Tsuchimochi clan, including Taka Castle, were handed over to the Itō clan. Nomura Kurōdo (野村蔵人) was appointed Taka-jō's castellan.

When the Itō were routed in 1577, Taka Castle came under the control of the Shimazu clan. Yamada Arinobu (山田有信, 1544-1609), a retainer of the Shimazu, was placed in charge of the castle. Ōtomo Sōrin (大友宗麟, 1530-1587), a Christian warlord from Bungo Province (豊後国, part of modern-day Ōita Prefecture) and his eldest son, Yoshimune, invaded Hyūga Province (日向国). The Ōtomo were neighbours and allies of the defeated Itō. They crossed the Mimikawa and reached Taka Castle on 11 October 1578. Arinobu held the castle with only 500 soldiers but soon received reinforcements when Shimazu Iehisa's army returned from the Mimikawa with 1,000 troops.

The Ōtomo started their attack on 20 October but were repelled after setting fire to surrounding villages. On 12 November, the all-out battle between the Ōtomo and the Shimazu began. The latter employed their favourite manoeuvre called tsurinobuse (釣り野伏せ, "feigned retreat"), a strategy that had proven successful many times: Shimazu Yoshihiro (島津義弘, 1535-1619), the younger brother of Yoshihisa, pretended to retreat across the Takajōgawa with the Ōtomo following him in hot pursuit, only to find themselves ambushed by troops of Shimazu Tadahira and Tadamune. Shimazu Iehisa and Yamada Arinobu led their troops out of Taka Castle and assaulted the rear of the Ōtomo contingent. The Shimazu chased the retreating Ōtomo all the way to the Mimikawa, located some twenty kilometres north of Taka Castle. This series of skirmishes entered the annals of history as the Battle of Mimikawa (耳川の戦い). The Shimazu had won a stunning victory and established power over Hyūga Province.

Taka Castle saw action in 1587 again when Toyotomi Hideyoshi embarked on his Kyūshū expedition. Arinobu displayed tenacious resistance against the eighty thousand troops under the command of Toyotomi Hidenaga (豊臣秀長, 1540-1591), Hideyoshi's half-brother. The Shimazu forces, however, had been crushed in the Battle of Nejirozaka and the survivors retreated to Satsuma. Arinobu had no choice but to surrender. The castle was later handed over to Akitsuki Tanezane (秋月種実, 1548-1596) and ultimately abandoned after the "One country, one castle" decree (一国一城令 ikkoku ichijō-rei) was issued in 1615.

The castle

The eastern edge of the plateau, the present-day Shiroyama Park is the location of the former Honmaru (本丸). There were many trenches between the Honmaru and the kuruwa on the western side.

Taka Castle (高城) 02

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

Nowadays, the castle ruins are a park with a parking lot. It takes about 10 minutes to reach the top of the former castle grounds.

Below the view of the hillside where the castle is situated. It is very long and narrow.

Taka Castle (高城) 03

Jizō statues made of stone line up along the path towards the castle.

Taka Castle (高城) 11

Remnants of what I believe were once enclosures and earthwork.

Taka Castle (高城) 04

Remnants of a stone wall.

Taka Castle (高城) 05

The enclosures circle the hill like a belt.

Taka Castle (高城) 06

The remains of the inner bailey. The building in the photo is a restored watchtower and a musical clock tower.

Taka Castle (高城) 07

From the clock tower, you can see the basin of the Omaru River (Takajō River) where two fierce battles were fought.

Taka Castle (高城) 08

To the west of the main wall, a number of empty moats were constructed. The bridge in the photo below is spanning one of them.

Taka Castle (高城) 09

Below, the old battlefield where the Shimazu troops defeated the Ōtomo, east of the castle ruins.

I was wondering why is it called the "Battle of Mimikawa"? Considering all circumstances, it would be more appropriate to call it the "Battle of Takajōgawa".

Taka Castle (高城) 10

Date of visit: 22 October 2013


  • Address: Takajō, Kijō, Koyu District, Miyazaki 884-0101
  • Access: 5 kilometres from Higashi-Kyushu Expressway Takanabe Interchange via Prefectural Route 19
  • Parking: on the castle site (free: Spot 'P' on the map above)
Next article in the series 'Walking the Japanese Castles': Nerima Castle
Previous article in the series 'Walking the Japanese Castles': Tonokoori 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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高城 (新納院)〒884-0101 宮崎県児湯郡木城町

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