Ishigakiyama Ichiya Castle was a Japanese castle built in the late Sengoku period in Odawara, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It was one of Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s most famous castles and the site of his first meeting with Date Masamune. In 1959, the ruins were designated a National Historic Site. But why was it built in the first place?
Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of Japan’s unifiers, once built an entire castle in secret near a castle he had besieged. After 80 days, he had the trees that covered it cut down, giving the impression that the castle appeared overnight. Soon after, his adversaries surrendered.
Who is Toyotomi Hideyoshi?
Toyotomi Hideyoshi was born on March 17, 1537, and passed away on September 18, 1598. He was born Kinoshita Tkichir, later known as Hashiba Hideyoshi, and was a Japanese samurai and daimyo of the late Sengoku period who is regarded as Japan’s second Great Unifier.
Hideyoshi rose from humble beginnings as a retainer of the powerful lord Oda Nobunaga to become one of Japan’s most powerful men. After the Honn-Ji Incident in 1582, Hideyoshi took over as Nobunaga’s successor and continued Nobunaga’s campaign to unite Japan, leading to the Sengoku period’s end. By the mid-1580s, Hideyoshi had become the de facto leader of Japan, holding the prestigious positions of Chancellor of the Realm and Imperial Regent.
With initial success, Hideyoshi launched Japanese invasions of Korea in 1592, but the eventual military stalemate hurt his reputation before his death in 1598. Tokugawa Ieyasu displaced Hideyoshi’s young son and successor Toyotomi Hideyori at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, resulting in the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
Hideyoshi’s reign spans most of Japan’s Azuchi-Momoyama period, named after his castle, Momoyama Castle. Hideyoshi left an indelible mark on Japan, including Osaka Castle, the Tokugawa class system, the prohibition on samurai possessing weapons, and the construction and restoration of numerous temples, some of which can still be seen in Kyoto. (Source: Britannica)
What Happened in the Siege of Odawara in 1590?
The third Siege of Odawara took place in 1590 as part of Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s campaign to eliminate the Hojo clan as a threat to his power. As Hideyoshi’s intentions became clear in the months following it, the castle’s defenses improved quickly but significantly. As a result, despite Hideyoshi’s overwhelming force, the siege saw little actual fighting. (Source: Military History)
How Did the Siege of Odawara Start and What was the Outcome?
Toyotomi Hideyoshi took over the unifying nation from Oda Nobunaga in 1588. Hideyoshi invited Hojo Ujimasa and Ujinao, father and son, to the imperial visit to Jurakudai, but Ujimasa declined. However, Ujimasa proposed rescheduling the visit to the spring or summer of 1590. Still, Hideyoshi refused, which strained their relationship and led to the launch of the Odawara Campaign against Hojo in May 1590.
Hojo Ujimasa’s forces could not hold Odawara against Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s forces, and the city fell. Ujimasa and his brother Ujiteru were later forced to commit suicide.
The Hojo lands were given to Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of Hideyoshi’s top generals. Though Hideyoshi had no idea at the time, this would prove to be a great stepping stone toward Tokugawa’s conquests and the office of shogun.
Yamanoue Sji, the tea master, was at the service of the Odawara lords. He was tortured to death and sentenced to death. (Source: Military History)
Image from MasterpieceofJapaneseCulture