|English Name||Funaoka Castle|
|Alternate Names||Shibata Castle|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Designations||Local Historic Site|
|Historical Period|| Pre Edo Period
|Access||Funoaka Station (JR Tōhoku Main Line), 10 minutes walk to base of mountain.|
|Time Required||50 minutes|
|Location||Shibata, Miyagi Prefecture|
|Coordinates||38° 3' 18", 140° 45' 31"|
|Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|
Funaoka castle was first founded by Shibata Jitarō in 1200. In the Sengoku Period the Shibata clan ruled as vassals of the Date clan. In the Edo Period the Harada clan were castellans. Harada Munesuke was in charge of Funaokajō at the time of the Date Disturbance in 1671. Date Tsunamura had inherited the position of Daimyō in 1660 following the arrest of his father, Date Tsunemune, for drunken debauchery in Edo, although the arrest was not without warrant it was politically motivated by events in Sendai Domain. This caused a decade of unrest and domain-level conflict culminating in the request for the Shogunate to intervene by Aki Muneshige in 1671. Aki was summoned to Edo for questioning and as part of the investigations retainers on both sides of the dispute were interviewed. Harada Munesuke was one of the retainers supporting Tsunamura interviewed. He was uncooperative during the interviews and left in a foul mood. Another round of questioning began later in the month, held at the home of a high-ranking official. Harada grew increasingly distressed throughout the course of the day as it became apparent his answers contradicted Aki’s, bringing them into question. With the disagreement escalating, Aki came into the room were Harada was waiting and began shouting deprecations at him. Harada drew his sword and killed Aki. He himself was then cut down by investigators. Harada’s kill was illegal and his conduct judged dishonourable. This invited extreme punishment and his entire male family line was put to death. Funaokajō was tore down and even the land it stood on was dug up.
Funaoka Castle is now probably most famous for the large number of blossoming trees located on its grounds but is an impressive mountaintop fort in terms of scale with multiple baileys, chiefly the sannomaru (third bailey), now park space, and honmaru (main bailey) at the summit which is now dominated by a statue of Bodhisattva Kannon. From the honmaru you have a nice view, and the honmaru has a distinctively pleasing castle shape to it, but mostly there’s not much to see so you may as well go in spring to see the blossoms.