Kunohe Castle 九戸城
Founder Kunohe Mitsumasa
Nanbu
Year 1492
Type Hilltop
Condition Ruins
Alternate Name Fukuoka-jo
Admin's Rating ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Location Ninohe, Iwate Pref
Map Google Map
Access Ninohe Sta. (Tohoku Main line), 1000 yen taxi
Website Ninohe City Sightseeing
Visited May 22, 2010
Notes This was just a quick stop on my way to Morioka. The castle ruins are well defined and there are good signs explaining parts of the castle.
History Kunohe Castle was built by Kunohe Mitsumasa from 1492-1501. It deflty makes use of three rivers to enhance it's defenses. The Kunohe actually originated from a branch of the Nanbu family which is why their family crest is the same. In 1590, after the fall of Odawara, Hideyoshi shifted his attentions to pacifying the Tohoku region. Nanbu Nobunao who participated in the Siege of Odawara for Hideyoshi was guaranteed that he would retain his own lands and have command of the area. Kunohe Masazane, himself a a renowned warlord, did not agree with this and rebelled against the Nanbu.

Nanbu Nobunao requested assistance from Hideyoshi to put down the revolt and with a combined 60,000 soldiers they circled the castle laying siege to it for 4 days. Masazane was tricked into surrendering by the family priest who was told that all their lives would be spared. When they opened the gates, the Nanbu forces swept in and killed all 5000 people including women and children. Excavations in 2009 found bone fragments from women and children giving evidence to this story.

After the rebellion, Gamo Ujisato renovated the castle but it was later transferred to Nanbu Nobunao. Nobunao abandoned the castle when he moved to Morioka Castle.

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  • Anonymous    September 04, 2015 at 11:50 AM
    So then this guy alone pretty much took on the entirety of feudal Japan? Kunohe Masazane is a certified badass!
  • JapanThis!    January 31, 2015 at 01:47 AM
    Sweet! Just what I was looking for.
  • Eric on Tohoku Castle Trip 2010    June 21, 2010 at 07:58 PM
    A small castle ruin nestled in the mountains with a sad story about it's demise.
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Ninohe, Iwate Pref
Kunohe Castle views
honmaru moat honmaru moat
Bridge over the honmaru moat. Ottemon gate ruins
earthen embankment stone wall ruins
honmaru gate ruins honmaru moat
Ninomaru bailey dry moat between the Ninomaru and Ishizawadate baileys
dry moat between the Ninomaru and ishizawadate baileys A view of the town from the honmaru bailey.
map