The first castle on this site was likely built around 1535 by Miyagawa Yasusada. In 1544 it was taken by Oda Nobunaga's father and 1547 by Saito Dosan. In 1567 when Oda Nobunaga took Gifu Castle, Ogaki Castle also became part of Oda lands. Because of its proximity to three major rivers (Kiso, Nagara and Ibi rivers) and it's strategic location near the choke point to lands farther west when coming from the east he fortified and expanded the castle. A main keep was built in 1588, but the main keep you see today was built in 1595 by Ito Sukemori. In 1600, at the Battle of Sekigahara, Ishida Mitsunari and Utaki Hideie planned to fight the Tokugawa forces here, but Tokugawa managed to draw them out to the field of Sekigahara where they met their defeat. Meanwhile, other forces loyal to Tokugawa stormed the castle.
After the Battle of Sekigahara several different Tokugawa loyal lords ruled over Ogaki Castle until the Toda Ujiteru came to power in 1635. The Toda continued to rule for 11 generations.
The main keep was reconstructed in 1959 but all that remains of the once great castle is the reconstructed main keep in a small park.
The main keep of Ogaki-jo is interesting because it is rare for a main keep in Japan to be built with 4 levels. In Japan, the character for the number "4" ( yon) can also be read "shi" which can mean "death." Therefore, "4 levels" could be read " shisoo which means "a look someone has shortly before death." That would be a very bad sign for any castle. They get around this by saying that the first roof you see on the bottom is actually just a "canopy" in the middle of the first level so it is a 3 level castle with a lower canopy.
Ogaki Castle is a short walk from the station and has some interesting stonework (including kokuin and fossils, if you can find them!) and a nice small park and museum to enjoy. At the museum entrance you can also buy a small booklet about the stone walls that points out the kokuin and fossils for you to find. It's only a 100 yen entrance fee and I think the booklet was another 100-200 yen so it could be a fun way to entertain kids. The rivers around the castle were also used as moats and natural defenses so I would recommend walking along these on the way to and from the castle. There are some photos below. It is unfortunate that the castle was once a National Treasure until it burned down in WWII.
|English Name||Ogaki Castle|
|Castle Condition||Reconstructed main keep|
|Designations||Next 100 Castles, Local Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Edo Period|
|Main Keep Structure||4 levels, 4 stories|
|Year Reconstructed||1959 (concrete)|
|Features||main keep, gates, turrets, water moats, stone walls, walls|
|Access||Ogaki Station, 7 minute walk|
|Visitor Information||100 yen; open 9am-5pm; closed Tuesday, days following holidays, New Year's Holidays|
|Time Required||45 mins|
|Location||Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture|
|Coordinates||35° 21' 43.09" N, 136° 36' 57.53" E|
|Year Visited||1996, 2019|
|Visits||April 1996; Aug 2, 2019|
|Added to Jcastle||1999|
|Friends of JCastle|
|Shirobito - Ogaki Castle|
|Shirofan - Ogaki Castle|
|Kojodan - Ogaki Castle|
|Jokaku Horoki - Ogaki Castle|
|Ken's Storage Japanese Castles - Ogaki Castle|