Deeply Moved by Matsuyama Castle!

The second trip in 2023 is Matsuyama in Shikoku. From February 25th to 26th, although the coldness eased a little, it still felt like spring was still far away, but we were blessed with fine weather.

In fact, I had never been to Shikoku in Japan, and I was longing for it because it was a place related to Kuroda Kyubei. Kuroda Kyubei’s second generation Naotsugu and third generation Tadanao were involved in Shikoku.

Like his father, 2nd Naotsugu served Hideyoshi’s younger brother Yamato Dainagon Hidenaga for 150 koku income. In 1585, when the Kishu region was subdued, he participated under Bito Jinemon Tomonori and made military achievements. After the Shikoku subjugation, he was hired by the up-and-coming Yoshiaki Kato, who became the feudal lord of Shichi Castle in Awaji, and obtained a chigyochi(territory) and became the gun general. He was from Kuroda village in Omi Nagahama, so he was recognized for his work as a naval force and as a gun specialist. After that, Kuroda Kyubei will serve the Kato family for generations until the end of the Edo period.

Kato Yoshiaki

Naotsugu moved to Iyo (Ehime Prefecture) after Awaji Province. Originally, Kato Yoshiaki’s castle was located in Masaki Town, south of Matsuyama City. The second Kuroda Kyubei Naotsugu also obtained 600 koku income of land in the Masaki district. However, Naotsugu stepped into the barricaded Mori army alone in the Mitsuhama night attack called Sekigahara in Shikoku and was killed by 12 bullets. After that, his younger brother Shigematsu took over the family headship and served Kato Yoshiaki and his son Akinari as the third Kyubei Tadanao. When Yoshiaki built Matsuyama Castle, Tadanao III served as gun general. Later, in 1615, he served as an attendant to Kato Akinari at the Osaka Summer Siege. When the shogun Iemitsu went to Kyoto, he accompanied Kato Akinari and was entrusted with the first team and the cannon team as the starting team. However, in 1643, when Kato Akinari returned rights of the Aizu clan to government due to the Aizu riot and became a ronin, the Hisamatsu family Matsudaira Ecchu no kami Sadatsuna, who was the lord of Yukina Castle in Kuwana, Ise, supported by income of 30 soldiers and 200 koku. He served as Omono-kashira (Ashigaru general in Ishi. Matsudaira Sadatsuna was the nephew of Tokugawa Ieyasu and was a member of the senior council. When the third generation Tadanao died of illness, Naoyoshi who had served Aoyama Yukitoshi, the lord of Amagasaki Castle, to whom the daughter of Kato Akinari married, took over the family estate and served the Hisamatsu Matsudaira family as the fourth generation Naoyoshi Kyubei.

Matsudaira Sadatsuna

In other words, the places related to Kyubei Kuroda are Matsuyama in Ehime Prefecture, Aizu in Fukushima Prefecture, and Minakuchi and Nagahama in Koka City, Shiga Prefecture.

I went up to Matsuyama Castle by ropeway. The plaza that was carved out of the mountain surface and filled with the soil is very large. If I climb the mountain road up there, I will be able to see defense mechanisms everywhere, but I took easy way. Magnificent stone walls and small gaps to shoot gun everywhere will take my breath away. It is a majestic military fortress that is hard to believe that it was built during peacefull the Tokugawa era. If you climb the castle tower, you can also see Mitsuhama beach, and if you look down, you can see Teppocho (gun town). You can see how he was wary of the Tozama feudal lords of Mouri in Choshu and Shimazu in Satsuma.

Matsuyama castle

The castle tower of Matsuyama Castle also has gun cracks for sniping here and there, and there are devices that allow you to aim at enemies from all possible angles. Looking at it, I thought that Kato Yoshiaki and Kuroda Kyubei Naotsugu had acquired the know-how from the dispatch of troops to Korea. Kato Kiyomasa dispatched troops to Korea as an army and made great military achievements. However, the Awaji navy led by Kato Yoshiaki and Wakisaka, and the Kuki navy in Kishu struggled partly due to Yi Sun-shin’s success. The biggest factor was that the Japanese navy was a transport ship that carried soldiers and supplies, and was not a small-turning ship specialized for battle like a destroyer. Therefore, in battle, you will have to fight back with guns and cannons through the gaps secured with shields. That’s what I thought of when I saw the gun cracks for sniping of the castle tower of Matsuyama Castle.

At the exhibition, the armor of Kato Yoshiaki was displayed. And the display of the Hisamatsu-Matsudaira family, who became the lord of the Matsuyama domain after the Gamo family was replaced in Aizu, was wonderful. I was intrigued by the exhibition of the Hisamatsu family, partly because the third generation was indebted to me. The Western-style building from the Viscount Hisamatsu era is a wonderful place that is also used for filming dramas. The café next door on the same site was really cozy, and the cat that came and went between both buildings had a calm look on its face. It is like the stage of Natsume Soseki in “I MA A CAT”.

Bansuiso, a second house of Hisamatsu

Masaki, which used to be an old chigyochi (territory) area a little far from Matsuyama city, still has the names North Kuroda and South Kuroda. In addition, Kuroda Reisha, which enshrines Naotsugu II, who died in battle, is enshrined by the stairs of Hio Hachiman Shrine. It is said that generations of the Hisamatsu family also visited the shrine.

Kuroda Reisha in Hio-Hachiman Shrine

The famous sea bream rice is also delicious, and the Dogo Onsen “Funaya” where I stayed was a good hotel with a wonderful garden.

As an aside, there is Japan’s best taiyaki restaurant in the Kuroda area of Masaki-cho, and I bought it there. I was surprised to see a customer at a popular store who bought two boxes of cardboard boxes in bulk.

Digression: Click here for the relationship between Kato Yoshiaki and Kuroda Naotsugu


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