Kannoosan-jo Castle (神尾山城)

Kannoosan-jo Castle was a castle that existed in what is now Miyagawa, Miyazaki-cho, Kameoka City, Kyoto Prefecture. It is thought to have been used by Kataharu YANAGOMOTO as his residence, and later by Mitsuhide AKECHI as a base from which to attack Tanba Province.


Kannoosan-jo Castle stood on a mountain behind Kinrin-ji Temple, in the surrounding area of which there remain the ruins of many temple living quarters for Buddhist monks and nuns such as Gokuraku-bo, Chikuchu-bo, Hozo-bo and Toryu-bo, and the site is also a sacred place of Tendai Esoteric Buddhism, with a stone wall that still stands. Kannoosan-jo Castle was built on this sacred site, and was a large structure which was distinctively constructed from large and strangely shaped stones.

It was constructed on the peak of a mountain with an altitude of 359m and a relative height of 230m that stands approximately 16km west of the center of Kameoka City, along the Sanin-do Road that led to Shinoyama City in Nishi Tanba.


The first reference to Kannoosan-jo Castle in historical sources can be found in the descriptions of the Battle of Katsuragawa River, and the Battles of Yagami-jo Castle and Kannoosan-jo Castle, which state that a castle called Kannoosan-jo Castle was built in Settsu Province by Tadakata HOSOKAWA in early 1526. In "Ashikaga Kiseiki" it was recorded as 'Amagasaki-no-jo' (Daimotsu-jo), but "Shinshu Osaka-shi Shi" (History of Osaka: new edition) vol. 2 describes that the Hosokawa Tenkyu family had its home base in Nakajima area but did not include the Amagasaki area, and it has therefore been identified that this may be an incorrect reference to Hori-jo Castle. Motomori KOZAI was also involved in the construction of this castle. Meanwhile, a quarrel between a laborer of Tadakata HOSOKAWA and a laborer of Motomori KOZAI about 'a basketful of dirt' provoked a conflict between the laborers of the both party. The two were briefly separated but Motomori KOZAI's laborers could not contain their anger and threw roof tiles and other objects within the castle, filling Tadakata HOSOKAWA with hatred.

Taking advantage of Motomori KOZAI's ignorance, Tadakata HOSOKAWA forwarded a falsified letter of rebellion to Takakuni HOSOKAWA, who, astonished at the letter, murdered Motomori KOZAI on Autust 30 of the same year (1526). Motonari KOZAI's brothers Tanemichi HATANO and Kataharu YANAGIMOTO were enraged and revolted against Takakuni HOSOKAWA, triggering a battle between Yagami-jo Castle and Kannoosan-jo Castle as well as the Battle of Katsurakawara.

Following this, Kataharu YANAGIMOTO was assassinated in the Battle of Nakanoshima, Takakuni HOSOKAWA committed suicide at Daimotsu-kuzure (the Battle of Daimotsu), Tadakata HOSOKAWA was also murdered, and the history of the castle became unknown for a brief period of time. "Shonyo Shonin Nikki" (the Diary of Shonyo Shonin) clearly describes that in 1546, Harumoto HOSOKAWA was defeated by Ujitsuna HOSOKAWA (son of Tadakata HOSOKAWA) supported by Nagayoshi MIYOSHI, and that he sought a refuge at 'Tanba-kannochi' (that place in Tanba) (referring to Kannoosan-jo Castle). It is though that this might be a description of the time when Harumoto HOSOKAWA fled to Tanba Province after feeling threatened by Motoharu UENO of the Hosokawa Ujitsuna faction who entered Kyoto on September 13 of the same year to conquer Yoshiharu ASHIKAGA. Harumoto HOSOKAWA subsequently left Tanba Province for Settsu Province where he relocated to Kannoji-jo Castle and Koshimizu-jo Castle, and became involved in the Battle of Shariji.

The next appearance of the name is found in the article of September 3, 1553 of "Tokitsugu Kyoki" (Diary of Tokitsugu YAMASHINA), in which there is a description that Kunisada NAITO was killed in a battle at Honme-jo Castle.

On the other hand, "Sokenki" describes that Mitsuhide Akechi used the 'Castle of Honme' as a transit base from which to attack Yagami-jo Castle during the Tensho era (1573-1592), and it is supposed that the 'Honme Castle' described in both writings refers to Kannoosan-jo Castle.

Castle Structure

The castle measures approximately 350m from south to north, approximately 70m from east to west, and it is one of the large castles of Tanba Province. The foundation is situated on the main axis of the mountain ridge, and a kuruwa (the general term for a castle compound) is located on the ridgeline of each of the two feeder ridges (which are separated from the main axis); the lower parts of these kuruwa are connected to each other horizontally.

Main Compound

The main compound extends about 27m from east to west, about 60m from south to north, and in the approximate center are the remains of an earthen mound measuring 5-6m at its base, 4m at its top, 2,5-3m in height and 7m in length; roughly dividing the compound into northern and southern areas. "Chusei Jokaku Jiten" (Dictionary of Medieval Castles) states the possibility that a tamon yagura (long guard tower) once stood on the remains of the earthen mound.

Northern Compound

The northern compound stands to the north of the main compound and is comprised of two similarly sized sections.

The remains of neatly arranged foundation stones can be seen in both this northern compound and in the main compound. From these, it can be assumed that fairly large residences once stood on the site, and that these were elements of a permanent mountain castle. In addition, the northern compound has a furrow-shaped dry moat (remains of a vertical-sided moat) that exists only in Kameoka City, which, judging from its form, appears to have undergone modification during the rule of Mitsuhide AKECHI. At present, it is possible to enter the northern compound from the southern compound, passing alongside the remains of the earthen mound in the main compound, but at the time of the castle's construction, the tamon yagura blocked passage from south to north, and it is therefore thought that people would pass between the northern and southern compounds by passing through the obikuruwa (a long narrow castle compound) and koshiguruwa (a compound bounded by earthworks) that comprised the western compound.

Southern Compound

The southern compound is constructed on the two feeding crests that extend from the main compound to the south and to the southwest. The southern compound varies in height with seven stepped levels, and in the center is a dry moat which has a width of 3.5m at the top, 2m at the bottom and a height of 3m. There are also compounds with three and four levels along the southwestern ridge. Here there is a large rock called 'Tengu-iwa' (Tengu rock, or long-nosed goblin shaped rock), representing a mountain spirit, and it is therefore thought that the southwestern compound was constructed on the grounds of Kinrin-ji Temple.

In between the southern and southwestern sides is the remains of "mizu-no-te guruwa" (castle compound built to protect the source of a castle's water) - rare in the Tanba region. The uppermost fourth level of this compound contains the remains of a well with a diameter of 1.5m from which a spring-fed aqueduct was built to provide the castle with water. In the adjacent southern compound and beside Otesuji are a stone wall and an earthen mound that are believed to be the remains of a building which "Chusei Jokaku Jiten" claims was "the most excellent mizu-no-te guruwa in Tanba Province."

Access to the Castle Ruins

By Train
JR Sanin Main Line Chiyokawa Station
Take the Keihan Kyoto Kotsu bus for Miyamae
By Car
Kyoto-Jukan Expressway > Chiyokawa Interchange > Kyoto Prefectural Road 73 Miyazaki Chitose Route > Kinrin-ji Temple
There are no parking facilities nearby (parking facilities are provided for Kinrin-ji Temple worshippers).
On Foot
Approximately 20 minute walk from Kinrin-ji Temple to the main compound.

[Original Japanese]