ようこそ! Welcome to JREF!

We are a community for people interested in All Things Japanese.

If you are new to the site, why not register? By doing so and being an active member you can make posts and access all site sections. You can register here and even do so using Facebook, Twitter or Google+!

  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Travel Usui Castle

By Hiroto Uehara, Jan 11, 2017 | Updated: Jul 18, 2017 | | |
  1. Hiroto Uehara
    Usui Castle (臼井城) is a hilltop castle near present-day Sakura City, Chiba Prefecture. Its ruins are now part of Usui Castle Park.

    usui01.jpg

    The castle is located on a plateau overlooking Lake Imbanuma to the north-east.

    Usui-Castle-topography.jpg

    According to legend Usui Tsuneyasu (臼井常安, 1106-1168) founded the castle. The Usui were descendants of the Chiba clan and ruled over the castle until 1561. In that year, Masaki Tokishige (正木時茂, 1513-1561), a retainer of Satomi Yoshitaka, who came to support Uesugi Kenshin in his siege of Odawara, attacked and put Usui Hisatane (臼井久胤) to rout. The castle was then taken over by Hara Tanesada (原胤貞, 1507-1569 or 1575). In 1564, it was attacked by Uesugi Kenshin, whose forces were eventually driven back by a coalition of the Hara, the Chiba and the Hōjō. During Toyotomi Hideyoshi's siege of Odawara Sakai Ietsugu (酒井家次, 1564–1619), a retainer of the Tokugawa, took Usui Castle and became its new lord. In 1604, he was transferred to another domain by Tokugawa Ieyasu and the castle was abandoned.

    I arrived at Keisei-Usui Station (京成臼井駅). Walking away from the station the urban environment soon turned rural. There were several old temples and shrines along the way. One of them, Hoshi Shrine (星神社), also known as Usui-myōken-sha (臼井妙見社), is quite interesting to explore. It houses Myōken-bosatsu (妙見菩薩), a bodhisattva representing a deification of Polaris and the Plough (Big Dipper). This deity was a fusion of Buddhism and Taoism, because the worship of star constellations originated in Taoism. The Chiba clan believed in the Myōken-bosatsu as their guardian deity, and their impressive family crest was based on those constellations:

    usui-mon.jpg
    Chiba-mon (Source)

    usui03.jpg

    usui04.jpg

    There was also the grave of a famous Edo-era sumo wrestler by the name of Raiden Tameemon (雷電爲右衞門, 1767-1825).

    Suddenly I reached something that looked like a ravine, an old moat, as it turned out. Looking to the other side, I discovered Usui Castle.

    usui05.jpg

    usui06.jpg

    I entered and found myself in the center of the second enclosure (二の丸 ni-no-maru), a big open field children must have been pleased with.

    usui07.jpg

    An earthen bridge connected the inner bailey (本丸 honmaru) with the second enclosure. A lot of original earthwork and moats were preserved throughout the castle grounds, so I got an impression about how well-fortified Usui Castle was.

    usui08.jpg

    Then I arrived at the inner bailey.

    usui09.jpg

    From the inner bailey I could overlook the surroundings including Lake Imbanuma. The hill seemed to be about 20 meters high. I imagined the spectacular scene of the brave Uesugi Kenshin attacking the castle.

    usui10.jpg

    Date of visit : 19 May 2013

    Access Information
    • Address: Usuida, Sakura-shi, Chiba (Map)
    • Transportation: 20 minutes from Keisei Main line Keisei-Usui station on foot


    Location:

    About Author

    Hiroto Uehara
    Hiroto is an ordinary Japanese office worker, but his true mission is searching for castles on the weekend.


    More from JREF

Comments

In order to add your comment please sign up and become a member of JREF through the registration form at the top right of the page; you can also sign up under your Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ account.
  1. Kazehito88
    Sugoii.. I want to go to Usui but heee