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One of Nobeoka Castle’s most impressive features is the 22-meter-high stone wall around the central Hon-Maru citadel. Legend has it that if the castle were ever attacked and a specific keystone was moved, the wall would collapse, killing 1,000 invaders!

Formerly known as Agata Castle, Nobeoka Castle in Kyushu’s east-central Miyazaki Prefecture was originally the fortified residence of the Tsuchimochi clan from the 10th century. The Tsuchimochi controlled lands across Kyushu’s Hyuga region but lost much of their holdings when the Kamakura Shogunate allocated the southern districts to the Shimizu clan and the Miyazaki plains to the Ito clan, leaving the Tsuchimochi with only the northern areas. As expected, various clans fought among each other for a greater share of the fertile lands. In 1587, the region came under the control of Takahashi Mototane, who, despite his affiliation with Ishida Mitsunari at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, maintained his lands and commenced construction of Nobeoka Castle in 1601, completing it in 1603.

Situated between two rivers that meet just east of Nobeoka, the castle was perched on a plateau-like hill approximately 200 meters long and 100 meters wide, with three elliptical terraces featuring well-constructed ishigaki dry stone walls along the western face. This is where the Sennnin Goroshi, or the Thousand Killer Wall, a 20-meter-high, 70-meter-long wall, can be found. The shape of the wall’s corner is intriguing, as it curves downward before suddenly curving into a near-vertical drop toward the ground, resembling a reverse-angled fortissimo ( f ) mark. The eastern side of the castle does not have any stone wall work.

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The Takahashi were replaced by Arima Yasuzumi in 1613 following a falling out with the Tokugawa Shogunate and expulsion. The Arima clan, formerly of Hinoe Castle in Nagasaki, strengthened the castle, adding not a keep but a three-story turret, and changed the name from Agata to Nobeoka Castle. The turret was destroyed in a blaze that started in the town in 1682 and was never replaced. The castle had a central Hon-Maru, Ni, and San no Maru baileys surrounding it, while the Nishi no Maru to the west was the site of the lord’s residence. This area also covered a 200-meter-long, 100-meter-wide stretch of land that enhanced the castle's defensive capabilities, allowing it to act like a Demaru, an outer defense separate from the main castle if the need ever arose.

The Arima were dismissed following peasant uprisings, and for the following years, various hereditary retainers of the Tokugawa were placed in charge until 1747, when the Naito clan of Aichi Prefecture was transferred to Nobeoka and remained until the beginning of the Meiji Period. The Naito clan graveyard can be found next to the Otemon Gate.

Although the castle was decommissioned in 1870, it finally saw battle in 1877 when Saigo Takamori and his troops took over the castle but were ousted by the Imperial troops. Saigo Takamori and his men fled to near Kagoshima, where they met their deaths shortly after.

 


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