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Goryokaku(star-shaped fort) in Sakudaira JUN, 2024

When you think of Goryokaku, you think of Hakodate Goryokaku, but there is also a small Goryokaku in Saku City, Nagano Prefecture.

From Komoro, drive along the Koumi Line for about 30 minutes and you will enter the area of Taguchi in Saku City. During the Edo period, Shinano was divided into the Tenryo (Shogunate) and several small domains, but this area had a territory of 12,000 koku, out of the 16,000 koku of land held by the branch family of the Ogyu Matsudaira clan. The head of the family, Matsudaira Norikata, steadily built his career as a wise and distinguished fudai daimyo, but after the arrival of Perry, he felt the importance of building up military power, so he moved the clan headquarters from Okudono in Mikawa and built Tatsuoka Castle.

Its size is about 10,000 m2, 1/4 of Hakodate Goryokaku (Kanazawa Castle is 300,000 m2), but Taguchi Elementary School is built inside, and the site, including the playground, is sufficient for a school. Unfortunately, the school was closed last spring (2023) due to consolidation. We hope that it will be used effectively in the future.

Norikata rose to prominence within the shogunate, becoming a senior councilor and commander-in-chief of the army, and was in the midst of the Meiji Restoration, but resigned from all his positions at the onset of the Boshin War and submitted to the new government. He abandoned the Matsudaira surname and took the name Yuzuru Ogyu, joining the Meiji government, and contributed to the development of the Order of Merit system, becoming commander-in-chief of the Promotion Bureau, for which he was promoted from viscount to count. The Ogyu Matsudaira family was one of the 18 Matsudaira families in Mikawa, and there were four families that were fudai daimyo, but this was the only family to be made count.

He had another achievement: together with Tsunetami Sano, who was from the Saga domain, he contributed to the establishment of the Hakuaisha (the forerunner of the Japanese Red Cross Society).

Near Tatsuoka Castle is Banshoin Temple, where the Okudaira family used to enshrine their mortuary tablets. There is a stupa here that is believed to be the grave of Nobushige Yoda and his wife. The Sanada clan fought off the Tokugawa army twice at Ueda Castle, but Nobushige, as a Takeda general, defended Mikawa Futamata Castle and Suruga Tanaka Castle from the fierce attacks of Ieyasu.

When Nobunaga invaded the Takeda territory, he remained loyal to Katsuyori until the end, and after confirming that Katsuyori had committed suicide, he joined Ieyasu's ranks.

After Nobunaga was defeated in the Honnoji Incident, the Tokugawa, Uesugi and Hojo clans began fighting over the Takeda domain (Tensho Jingo War), but Nobutaka was killed in the middle of the conflict, and Ieyasu gave the Matsudaira surname and Komoro Castle with 60,000 koku of rice to Nobutaka's son, who took the name Yasukuni Matsudaira. Unfortunately, Yasukuni was later killed in battle during the Odawara Campaign, and the family headship was passed on to his younger brother Yasukatsu, but due to trouble with a colleague, he was stripped of his title and served Hideyasu Yuki, and his descendants became chief retainers of the Fukui Matsudaira clan.

Shinano, especially the Chikuma River basin, has many ruins from the Paleolithic period (including Jomon, Yayoi and Kofun) along the river terraces, and I'm always at a loss as to where to start. Near Tatsuoka Castle is Shinkaisansha Shrine, and the deity it enshrines is interesting. The main deity is Okihagi-no-mikoto, whose father is Takeminakata of Suwa Taisha and whose grandfather is Okuninushi-no-mikoto of Izumo. I can picture the people and rulers who rode the Tsushima Current and traveled to Shinano (Suwa and Saku) via Itoigawa and Hakuba.

Even though it is a shrine, the three-story pagoda (an important cultural property) of the former Jingu-ji Temple stands quietly. It is a beautiful tower with an inscription dated 1515 and incorporating Zen Buddhist style, but it is said that it escaped destruction during the anti-Buddhist movement, with the explanation that it was a shrine treasure house and not a Buddhist pagoda. As expected of Nagano Prefecture, which has Zenkoji Temple.



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