Images: Daniel O'Grady
相良氏1588 - 1871
人吉城Hitoyoshi Castle is classified as a hilltop castle (its layout: Teikakushiki), and is located in Kumamoto Prefecture. During the pre-modern age, it found itself within the borders of Higo Province. It is associated with the Sagara clan. Dates in use: 1199 - 1871.
Not an imposing castle but it has proved to be an enduring one. Thirty-five generations of the Sagara clan ruled the southern part of what is now Kumamoto Prefecture for almost 700 years. This is truly staggering given that changing loyalties & constant warfare could almost be considered normal in the age of the Samurai.
Hitoyoshi Castle's grounds are in excellent condition. Quite often you see overgrown & neglected castle ruins, but that isn't the case here. Everything is trimmed & well defined and it looks to have gotten to this state through slow but steady, regular maintenance.
The story of the Horiai Gate is a little bit odd. The original gate now serves as the front gate to an old samurai house a short distance west of the castle. There's nothing too odd about that, but instead of moving it back to the castle during recent restoration work, an exact replica was rebuilt at the original location.
|1198||Sagara Nagayori ambushed & defeated the then ruler of the castle, Yase Kazumayu. The Yase clan had been vassals of the Taira clan.|
|1199||Yorikage rebuilt the castle. At that time a stone was found in the shape of the crescent moon, thus giving the castle the nickname of Sengetsu castle.|
|1589||Renovation of the castle's stone walls commenced.|
|1594||The castle town was established.|
|1639||The rebuilding of the castle was completed.|
|1802||A major fire destroyed all buildings. They were subsequently rebuilt.|
|1862||Another major fire ravaged the castle. All buildings were again rebuilt.|
|1871||The castle was abandoned.|
|1877||The whole of Hitoyoshi became a battleground during the Seinan rebellion.|
|1931||The Hitoyoshi castle grounds were purchased from the Sagara family by the town.|
|1993||The Tamon & Sumi turrets along with a long wall were rebuilt.|
|Site||National Historic Site|
|Otate Gomon Bridge||Prefecturally designated important cultural asset|
|Horiai Gate||City designated important cultural asset|