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Kawanoe Castle

Kawanoe Castle was the site of bloody battles over hundreds of years.

Kawanoe Castle

Kawanoe Castle played an important role in the history of Shikoku during the strife from the Northern and Southern Dynasties period to the Warring States period. The structure that stands on the castle site today is a replica of an Edo period castle, but it’s well worth a visit for the views of nearby Mt. Ishizuchi and the Seto Inland Sea from the keep.

The castle is located on Mt. Washio in the industrial city of Shikokuchuo. The fortified enclosures are arranged on top of each other like a wedding cake, with the castle tower at the top. Originally the castle was a Buddhist temple, which was gradually fortified. The current structure was modelled on Inuyama Castle in Aichi Prefecture, and it houses a museum of artefacts excavated from the site and various armour and weapons. Some of the walls at the base of the tower date from the Edo period, while ditches arranged vertically up the hill are from the Warring States times.

Kawanoe stands at the strategically important intersection between the old provinces of Shikoku, namely Iyo, Sanuki, Tosa, and Awa. Consequently it was fought over constantly, first by the forces seeking to dominate all of Shikoku, then in battles between the rulers of Shikoku and forces invading from Honshu.

Doi Yoshimasa built Kawanoe Castle in 1337 as a fort of the Kono clan, military governors of Iyo for the Southern Court during the Northern and Southern Dynasties. In 1342, the castle was taken by the Hosokawa clan, governors of large areas of Shikoku. However, the Kono succeeded in wresting it back in the mid-1500s. In 1572, it was taken by vassals of the Miyoshi clan of Awa, then the Chosokabe of Tosa.

Just when the Chosokabe had succeeded in unifying all of Shikoku under their rule, Toyotomi Hideyoshi invaded the island from Honshu in 1582. The castle fell once again and the Chosokabe surrendered. A succession of Toyotomi vassals were installed. After the Tokugawa victory at the Battle of Sekigahara, Kato Yoshiaki was transferred to Iyo Province and he rebuilt Kawanoe Castle in the highly advanced style of the time. However, Yoshiaki soon moved to Matsuyama where he built the castle that stands there today. After a brief attempt to rebuilt Kawanoe Castle in the early 1600s, the strategically important Kawanoe Domain was taken over by the Tokugawa shogunate and the castle was abandoned.

Near the car park is a stone marker saying “Himegatake” (姫ヶ嶽). In 1582, the then lord of Kawanoe Castle was murdered on a visit to a local shrine by disloyal vassals, who then attacked the castle. Learning that her father was dead, his daughter Toshihime got on a horse and rode it off the cliff here into the sea. Her body was washed up in Toyohama, Kanonji in Kagawa, and was buried by the locals.

Information

Name in Japanese: 川之江城

Pronunciation: kawano e jō

Address: 1087-4 Kawanoecho, Shikokuchuo, Ehime 799-0101

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