Tanabe-jo Castle (Tango Province) (田辺城 (丹後国))

Tanabe-jo Castle, located in Maizuru City, Kyoto Prefecture, was build between Sengoku Period and Edo Period. It is also known as Maizuru-jo Castle.

The Sengoku Period

In 1578, Fujitaka HOSOKAWA, as instructed by Nobunaga ODA, conquered Tango Province by destroying Shugo Daimyo (Guardian Feudal Lord) Yoshimichi ISSHIKI; thus being allowed to control the area, Fujitaka first settled in Miyazu-jo Castle but later built Tanabe-jo Castle in Tanabe, Kasa Gun, which was strategically important for transportation and close to Kinai, in order to make it the center for governing the area of Tango Province. His son, Tadaoki HOSOKAWA, inherited the castle when Fujitaka retired.

The Siege of Tanabe-jo Castle

In 1600, when the Battle of Sekigahara broke out, as the head of the Hosokawa clan, Tadaoki HOSOKAWA declined the invitation of Sei-Gun (western camp, led by Mitsunari ISHIDA) to join them, and instead his army sided with To-Gun (eastern camp), which was headed by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA.

Fujitaka had retired at Miyazu-jo Castle but now judged that the castle was too fragile to defend against a Sei-Gun attack and therefore set it ablaze, and his army entered Tanabe-jo Castle to counter the armies of Sei-Gun, which were advancing like a fog to encircle the castle. The battle continued for as long as 50 days after Tanabe-jo Castle was quickly besieged by a force of 15,000 soldiers of Sei-Gun, whose leaders included Shigekatsu ONOGI, a relative of Kiyoki SHIMA, Mitsunari ISHIDA's chief retainer, and Shigekatsu MAEDA, who was the son of Geni MAEDA, an important retainer of the Toyotomi family. Fujitaka, running out of ammunition after a fierce battle, worried that his "Kokindenju no Sho" might be damaged and lost in the war, so he offered it to Emperor Goyozei. Fujitaka survived because Sei-Gun eventually stopped its attack thanks to the intervention of Emperor Goyozei, who worried about Fujitaka's imminent death in the battle. Fujitaka surrendered Tanabe-jo Castle and instead settled in Tanba-Kameyama-jo Castle in Tanba, which was owned by the enemy general, Shigekatsu MAEDA.

The Edo Period

After this, Tadaoki HOSOKAWA was transferred to Kokura, in Kyushu, and Takatomo KYOGOKU temporarily entered Tanabe-jo Castle with 123,000 koku to govern Tango Province, but later he rebuilt Miyazu-jo Castle in order to establish a base there. Reportedly, on this occasion all the buildings of Tanabe-jo Castle were destroyed (Ikkoku Ichijyo Rei). According to Takatomo KYOGOKU's will, among the Kyogoku family members his eldest son Takahiro inherited the Miyazu domain with 70,000 koku, the second son Takamitsu inherited the Tango-Tanabe domain (Maizuru domain) with 35,000 koku, and the adopted son Takanobu inherited the Mineyama domain with 13,000 koku.

Takamitsu KYOGOKU, the first lord of the Maizuru domain, reconstructed Tanabe-jo Castle from the devastation, renovating its stone walls and rebuilding the watchtowers.

The Kyogoku clan, having been transferred to the Toyooka domain after three generations, was in 1668 replaced by the Makino clan with 35,000 koku; the clan rebuilt the main gate, other gates and stone walls of Tanabe-jo Castle, and as part of its heritage continued the engineering work and prosperity for generations till the Meiji period.

The Tanabe-jo Castle of Today

The compound of former Tanabe-jo Castle is now a garden surrounding the Shouko Kan (two-level tower), which was rebuilt in 1940, Tanabe-jo Castle Museum in the castle gate (rebuilt in 1997) and the stone mound foundation for tenshu (main keep).


It is four minutes on foot from Nishimaizuru Station of the JR Maizuru Line.

Take the Limited Express Maizuru train, and you will arrive at Nishimaizuru Station in approximately 90 minutes. It is ten minutes by car from the Maizuru Nishi interchange of the Maizuru-Wakasa Expressway.

[Original Japanese]