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Kameyama Castle (亀山城 Kameyama-jō) is a former hilltop castle located in Kameoka, the former province of Tamba (丹波国), about ten kilometres west of Kyōto. Its construction began under Akechi Mitsuhide (明智光秀, 1528-1582), a vassal of Oda Nobunaga, in the Tenshō period (天正, 1573–1592). It was completed in three major phases of construction.

Tamba Kameyama Castle


Lords of Kameyama Castle:

  • ~1595: Kobayakawa Hideaki (小早川秀秋, 1577-1602)
  • 1595-1609: Maeda Gen’i (前田 玄以,1539-1602) with 50,000 koku
  • 1609-1621: the Okabe clan (岡部氏) with 32,000 koku
  • 1621-1634: a branch of the Ogyū Matsudaira (大給松平家) with 22,000 koku
  • 1634-1648: the Suganuma clan (菅沼氏) with 41,000 koku,
  • 1648-1686: a branch of the Fujii Matsudaira (藤井松平家) with 38,000 koku
  • 1686-1697: the Kuze clan (久世氏) with 50,000 koku
  • 1697-1702: the Inoue clan (井上氏) with 47,000 koku
  • 1702-1748: a branch of the Aoyama clan (青山氏) with 50,000 koku
  • 1748-1868: the Katahara Matsudaira (形原松平家) with 50,000 koku

History:


Mitsuhide built the castle at a strategic location in Tamba province, namely at the northwestern entrance to Kyōto. It is said that the castle has a three-storey donjon, but the details are unknown. Mitsuhide also developed the castle town; the Kameoka Mitsuhide Festival (亀岡光秀祭り) is held every May.

Tamba Kameyama Castle


The second construction phase started under Kobayakawa Hideaki. Incidentally, Toyotomi Hideyoshi considered the castle near Kyōto so important that he appointed his nephew Hideaki and Hashiba Hidekatsu (羽柴秀勝, 1567-1586), Nobunaga's fourth son, later adopted by Hideyoshi, to rule over Kameyama.

The last and most comprehensive phase of construction was undertaken by Okabe Nagamori (岡部長盛, 1568-1632) in the early Edo period. In 1609, when Tokugawa Ieyasu included Kameyama Castle in his plans to attack Toyotomi Castle in Ōsaka, he began to fortify it extensively. He commissioned the most famous castle builder of the time, the daimyō Tōdō Takatora (藤堂高虎, 1556-1630), with this task, who completed the construction within a year.

Kameyama Castle was part of a network of fortifications surrounding Ōsaka Castle The castle was built on a hill south of Ōi River (大堰川). The honmaru (本丸) was surrounded by an inner moat (内堀 uchibori), which in turn was protected by outer moats, the sotobori (外堀) and further out, the Sōgamaebori (総構堀). The five-storey castle tower (天守閣 tenshukaku) stood in the centre of the honmaru. It was the first five-storey donjon but did not have gables or other decorations. However, the top floor was said to have a gallery with a high railing and a decorated gable.

Tamba Kameyama Castle

Historical photo of Kameyama Castle

According to surviving plans and old photographs, the castle, surrounded by tall stone walls, was of magnificent appearance. The stone walls of the honmaru can still be seen today. However, they were renewed at the beginning of the Shōwa period, so they are not part of the original structure. Today, the main temple of the Ōmoto (大本) sect, established in 1892, is located on the castle grounds. Two smaller castle gates are preserved; they were moved to other places in the village.

In 1869, Kameyama was renamed Kameoka to avoid confusion with Ise Kameyama.

Visiting the castle:


I went to Kameoka by car from Kyōto via National Route 9. As soon as I left the city, I found myself in the mountainous district of Tamba. After passing Oino-zaka Pass (老ノ坂峠), I arrived in Kameoka. This is the gateway to Tamba, and it is easy to see why Mitsuhide Akechi built his base here when he conquered the province.

Tamba Kameyama Castle


Kameyama Castle is built around a small hill on the south bank of the Hozu River (保津川). The castle town is located on the south side of the castle, where the San'in Highway runs through and was defended by a triple moat (inner, outer and side) and a dugout. On the other hand, there is only one inner moat on the north side of the castle. This is because it was calculated that the Hozu River could be blocked in case of emergency, and the flat land on the north side could be turned into a vast pond.

Tamba Kameyama Castle

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

As mentioned above, the castle ruins are owned by the Ōmoto sect, and although there is a parking lot on the site, we were reluctant to use it, so we parked in the Seiyu Parking near Kameoka Station.

The first thing to do is to register at the sect's headquarters and be briefed on the precautions to be taken on the grounds. We were told that we could take photos inside the castle but not post them on the web, so these photos will only be accepted outside the castle. Inside the castle, you can see the stone walls and the old well. However, the stone walls were destroyed and have been re-built.

The area outside the moat on the north side of the castle has been developed as Nango Park (南郷公園), which is ideal for observing the castle from the other side of the river.

Tamba Kameyama Castle


There is a bronze statue of a shachi (鯱) in the park. Shachi are mystical animals said to summon water and have come to be used as charms on rooftops and gables to prevent fire.

Tamba Kameyama Castle


These are the remains of the inner moat on the west side.

Tamba Kameyama Castle


In 2019, a statue of Akechi Mitsuhide was erected at the castle site.

Statue of Akechi Mitsuhide


Date of visit: 29 December 2013

Access:

  • Address: Uchimaru-1 Aratsukacho, Kameoka, Kyoto 621-0851
  • Access: a 10-minute walk from JR Sanin Line Kameoka Station
    3 kilometres from Kyoto-Jukan Expressway Kameoka Interchange via National Route 372
  • Other sights: Kameoka Sightseeing (Kameoka City Touring Association Website)
    Yagi 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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〒621-0851 京都府亀岡市荒塚町内丸1

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