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Kiyosu Castle was initially constructed around 1405 by Shiba Yoshishige, the Governor of Owari, serving as a major strategic defense and later as the seat of power for the Owari region (now Aichi Prefecture). One branch of the Oda clan, administrators of Owari, took control of southern Owari and Kiyosu Castle from 1476, while the other branch was based in Iwakura Castle, overseeing northern Owari.

Kiyosu Castle was the launch point for many significant samurai battles during the turbulent Sengoku, or Warring States Period (1450-1615), including the battles of Okehazama (1560), Anegawa (1570), Nagashino (1575), and Sekigahara (1600).

In 1555, after the death of his father, Oda Nobunaga enlisted the help of his uncle, Oda Nobumitsu, to attack and kill Oda Nobutomo, the clan leader at Kiyosu Castle. Nobunaga subsequently relocated from Nagoya Castle to Kiyosu. Two years later, he discovered a plot by his younger brother, Nobuyuki, to overthrow him. Feigning illness, Nobunaga drew Nobuyuki close and assassinated him within Kiyosu Castle, thereby eliminating opposition and ensuring clan stability.

Kiyosu remained Nobunaga’s base for many years, during which time the city flourished due to his economic reforms and enhanced security. The castle grounds once spanned 1.6 kilometers east-west and 2.8 kilometers north-south, featuring an outer, central, and inner moat system.

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On July 16, 1582, just weeks after Nobunaga’s death at Honno-ji Temple in Kyoto, an important meeting regarding the Oda clan’s succession, known as the Kiyosu Conference, was held at Kiyosu Castle. Top Oda retainers, including Shibata Katsuie, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Niwa Nagahide, and Ikeda Tsuneoki, gathered to decide on Nobunaga’s successor. With Nobunaga’s designated heir, Nobutada, having died at Nijo Castle, the succession was contested between Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who supported Oda Samboshi (Nobunaga’s infant grandson), and Shibata Katsuie, who backed Nobunaga’s third son, Nobutaka. The conference ended without resolution, leading to escalating tensions between Hideyoshi and Katsuie, culminating in the Battle of Shizugatake. Ultimately, Hideyoshi triumphed, leading to Katsuie’s defeat and suicide, and Hideyoshi's eventual domination of Japan.

Following the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Kiyosu Castle saw various masters. It was reconstructed in concrete in 1989 across a small river from its original location. The actual site of the keep now features the "Kiyosu Furusato no Yakata," a small rest area and souvenir stall. Surprisingly, the JR train lines and Bullet Train lines run directly through the old castle site. The southern half of Kiyosu Castle is now a park with statues of Oda Nobunaga in full armor and his wife, Princess No-Hime.

The current reconstructed Kiyosu Castle serves as a symbol of Kiyosu City and houses a well-planned museum featuring fascinating displays and artifacts related to the castle’s history and its role in the Period of Warring States.

 


See also 

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    Ueda Castle in Nagano Prefecture once stood prominently on a cliff overlooking the Saigawa River. Also known as Amagafuchi-Jo, Isesaki-Jo, Matsuo-Jo, and Sanada-Jo, it was built around 1583 by its first master, Sanada Masayuki. This sturdy yet small fortress cleverly utilized the surrounding natural defenses, including the river, steep rocky cliffs, the layout of the town below, and the strategically designed waterways to hinder attackers. Ueda Castle was fortified with seven defensive yagura (watchtowers) atop robust stone walls and had two large gates with watchtowers above them.

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  • Tsuyama Castle

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    Tsuyama Castle, located in Tsuyama City, Okayama Prefecture, is celebrated as one of Japan's top three major hilltop (Hirayama) castles, alongside Himeji and Matsuyama Castles. Originally, Tsuyama Castle comprised 77 structures, including the main keep, various yagura (watchtowers), gates, palaces, and living quarters. For comparison, Hiroshima Castle had 76 structures, and Himeji had 61. The first castle on this site was built in 1441 but was soon abandoned. The large-scale construction that we recognize today began in 1603 under the orders of Mori Tadamasa. The castle served as the administrative base for the Tsuyama Han daimyo, the Mori clan from 1603 to 1697, and the Matsudaira clan from 1698 to 1871.

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  • Tsu Castle

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    Tsu Castle, located in Tsu City, Mie Prefecture, was originally built by Hosono Fujiatsu in 1558 and was known as Anotsu Castle, named after the old region. The site was strategically chosen at the confluence of the Ano and Iwata Rivers, which naturally formed a moat around the castle, while the nearby port served as a vital trade route.

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  • Sasayama Castle

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    Tamba Sasayama Castle, also known as Sasayama or Kirigajo (Mist Castle), is a flatland castle (hira-jiro) situated on a gentle rise in the Tamba region of Hyogo Prefecture. It was constructed in 1608 as part of Tokugawa Ieyasu's strategy to prepare for an attack on Osaka, aiming to bring an end to the Toyotomi clan. Ieyasu ordered the castle's construction using the Tenka Bushin system, engaging 20 former enemy daimyo and their forces to complete the complex within six months. This system kept the former enemies close and preoccupied, financially straining them and limiting their capacity for further conflict. The stones used in Sasayama Castle feature engravings called kokumon, indicating who made each part of the walls and preventing theft by other lords' men.

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  • Sadowara Castle

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    Sadowara Castle in Miyazaki Prefecture was a mountaintop yamajiro castle, initially built by the Tajima clan during the Nanboku-Cho period (1334-1394). As was typical of castles from that era, Mt. Kakusho, the chosen mountain, was terraced to create various baileys, or kuruwa. While defensive structures were constructed at the top and around the mountain, the lord's main living quarters and administrative offices were situated at the mountain's base.

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  • Osaka Castle

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    Osaka Castle is a prominent symbol of Osaka City, originally constructed in 1583 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi on the site of the Ishiyama Hongan-ji temple-fortress, which had been the scene of a violent uprising by warrior monks and peasants in the late 16th century. Modeled on Oda Nobunaga’s Azuchi Castle, the original Osaka Castle tenshu (tower keep) featured five visible floors, six interior floors, and two underground basements. The exterior was lacquered black and adorned with gold decorations, including large peony flowers, tigers, birds, and various crests.

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  • Okazaki Castle

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    The Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, was born in Okazaki Castle in 1542 during a period of significant civil unrest. At that time, the Tokugawa, then known as the Matsudaira, controlled the rice-rich Mikawa plains of what is now eastern Aichi Prefecture. This fertile region was highly coveted by surrounding warlords. Ieyasu, a shrewd leader and brilliant tactician, managed to maintain and expand his territories. Following in the footsteps of other national unifiers, Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Ieyasu emerged victorious at the decisive Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. In 1603, he was invested as Shogun, a title he made hereditary, enabling the Tokugawa family to rule Japan for the next 250 years.

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  • Ogaki Castle

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    Ogaki Castle, located in Ogaki City, Gifu Prefecture, was originally built around 1500 by Miyakawa Yasusada and named Ushiya Castle due to the Ushiya River serving as a natural moat. The castle was also known as Bi Castle and Kyoroku Castle. The Ogaki region held strategic importance as a transit point between Mino and Omi Provinces, a fact recognized by Saito Dosan, the Viper of Mino. When Oda Nobunaga captured Gifu Castle in 1567, Ogaki Castle came under Oda rule. Both Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi understood the strategic significance of the castle. In 1595, Hideyoshi ordered Ito Sukemori to expand the castle and construct the Tenshu keep.

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