Ogaki Castle

From Jcastle.info



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.

Visit Notes

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.

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Castle Profile
English Name Ogaki Castle
Japanese Name 大垣城
Alternate Names Ushiya-jo
Founder Miyagawa Yasusada
Year Founded 1535
Castle Type Flatland
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
Visitor Information
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
Website https://visitgifu.com/see-do/ogaki-castle/
Location Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture
Coordinates 35° 21' 43.09" N, 136° 36' 57.53" E
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Added to Jcastle 1999
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 1996, 2019
Admin Visits April 1996; Aug 2, 2019
Friends of JCastle
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(16 votes)
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Matthew WardGunshi

11 months ago
Score 0++
This is a really nice little castle. The interior of concrete main keeps often leave me cold, but this one didn't. The reconstructed buildings are quite elegant, and there is some nice stonework. I also went to the nearby city museum, and they had a really good model of how the castle used to look... it helped me appreciate the castle, but also made me a bit sad. It would have been a great castle if it had survived WWII. But I still think it's worth 4 stars for the general attractiveness and authentic appearance of the cluster of reconstructions.


75 months ago
Score 1++
One can find many pictures of Ōgakijō as it was originally built by Ichiyanagi Naosue under instructions from Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1588. Unfortunately, the original wooden structure, known for its four tiers of thickly plastered white walls, was destroyed by Allied aerial bombardment in 1945. Today a concrete reconstruction dating to 1959 stands in its place. The windows on the top floor were designed for observation in the 1959 reconstruction, but they were much too large to be historically accurate. In 2011 the castle had a make-over to look more like the original structure. Now the windows are smaller but it is more authentic in its outer appearance. It says on the pamphlet 『水と城の大垣』”Ōgaki of Castle and Water”. Ōgakijō’s moats were very extensive and the outer moat still encloses the city today. The poet Matsuo Bashō travelled down the moat to the Suimon River and the city tourist board encourages travellers to do the same now. The Suimon however is not a wide river and it was difficult to transport large construction materials to the site, so the timber and rocks employed in Ōgakijō’s construction were small and light. It was possible for me to spy Gifujō on Mt. Kinka from Ōgakijō castle tower. It looked like a white blip atop the mountain. How would it feel to have Nobunaga looking down on you from there I wonder!

Kiddus i2003Gunshi

98 months ago
Score 0++
The visit to the castle was made all the more pleasant because it was the day Ogaki city held it's matsuri and the streets were lined with stalls and the castle was just one place where people congregated.


103 months ago
Score 0++
You can also see Gifu Castle from this castle. My eyes are decent enough and you can make out a white blip on top of distant Mount Kinka from Ogaki Castle's keep.


158 months ago
Score 0++
Eric,I think it is definitely worth having a link to the official castle pages. BTW, went to Ogaki Castle again this week. Finally manage to make it inside to see the castle museum. It is definitely worth the 100yen admission. On the first floor, there are some weapons on display and some of the replicas you can actually play around with. There are several suits of armour on display. On the 2nd floor, there are some paintings of the lords of the castle. Scattered around the museum are video displays about the Battle of Sekigahara as well as the history of Ogaki Castle. If you have some time, do go and follow the canals which used to ring the much bigger original Ogaki Castle. Sections of it have been planted with cherry trees. I'm kicking myself for not going out further and checking them out when I was at Ogaki Castle during the cherry blossom period earlier in the year.


160 months ago
Score 0++
Thanks Raymond. I updated the link. Do you think it is worth having a link to the castle homepages? They often change making them difficult to maintain, but if people keep telling me when the links don't work I'll update them.


160 months ago
Score 0++
The cherry blossoms around Ogaki Castle are in full bloom this week. All the renovations are done, so the castle looks brand new on the outside. For those visiting on a weekday, this place is closed on Tuesdays. BTW, the official Ogaki City webpage for Ogaki Castle in Japanese is http://www.c...0000577.html


166 months ago
Score 0++
Today i made a triple. Ogaki, Hikone and Nagahamacastles. I knew, using this site, that this castle was under repair. Still i went there because it was on my way to Hikone. The tenshu is completely under the scaffolds. I won7t give stars for now, but i think i'll give only 2, because the site and the artifacts on show aren't pleasing.