Kanegasaki Castle (Iwate)

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The origins of Kanegasaki Castle are not clear, but it was a strategic location dating back to the Heian Period. Some local legends attribute it to Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, but that is unlikely. Many local towns and legends around Tohoku attribute their origins or some famous stories the the general. During the late Sengoku Period it was ruled by the Onodera and Kasai. Date Masamune took control of the Kasai lands in 1591 when Kasai was reassigned for failure to participate in the Siege of Odawara. Kanegasaki Castle became an important defense to the Date for it's proximity to the Nanbu Domain on their northern borders. Ishida Kagemori served as castellan for the Date until he went with Date Hidemune to Uwajima. Date Munetoshi moved from Ichinoseki Castle to manage Kanegasaki in 1615. In 1629 Munetoshi move to Mizusawa Castle and then in 1644 Omachi Sadayori became the new lord of the castle. The Omachi continue to govern until the end of the Edo Period.

The "one castle per domain" edict of 1615 would have technically outlawed maintaining this castle in the same Date ruled domain with Sendai Castle (Aoba Castle), but the Date downplayed the castle site calling it a "yougai", or simply a "fortification" to escape Tokugawa notice. Among the 21 of these "yougai", Kanegasaki was one of the most important. It is the farthest north, protecting the border with the Morioka Domain, and it also looked over important waterways for trading rice and for logging. According to one local, this also lent itself to a lucrative smuggling business in the Edo Period. The castle had a well developed castle town that retains several original samurai homes today too. Unfortunately, most of the castle has eroded into the river.

Visit Notes

There is not much to see of the castle but the samurai homes and historical district are certainly worth spending some time to enjoy. It has not been commercialized much except that a couple of homes have been made into cafes or restaurants. They could certainly use some more complete books or materials about the homes. Several homes are still lived in or have been until recently so they have been remodeled and modernized to some extent and are not open to the public. Regardless, given the number of extant homes it was worth walking around to see them from the outside and enjoy the atmosphere of an old castle town. The museum is also very good and highly recommended. It seems that the town does not get many visitors so some homes are falling into disrepair and have been abandoned.

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Castle Profile
English Name Kanegasaki Castle
Japanese Name 金ヶ崎城
Alternate Names Kanegasaki Yougai
Founder unknown
Year Founded Heian Period
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Local Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Features samurai homes, trenches, castle town
Visitor Information
Access Kanegasaki Sta. (Tohoku Line) 15 min walk
Visitor Information Park, open any time
Time Required 20 mins
Website http://www.town.kanegasaki.iwate.jp/docs/2017071900014/
Location Kanegasaki, Iwate Prefecture
Coordinates 39° 11' 51.22" N, 141° 7' 21.58" E
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Year Visited 2018
Visits May 12, 2018
Added to Jcastle 2018
(2 votes)
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