Japanese Castle Explorer

by Daniel O'Grady

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Usuki Castle

Images: Daniel O'Grady


Usuki Domain

1600 - 1871

Inaba Clan

50,000 Koku

Usuki Castle is classified as a hilltop castle, and is located in Ōita Prefecture. During the pre-modern age, it found itself within the borders of Bungo Province. It is associated with the Ōtomo, Inaba clans. Dates in use: 1562 - 1873.

Ōtomo Sōrin built this castle on what was a small oval-shaped island that touched the coastline at just one point. The site was chosen as it offered good position to better defend against his enemies. The island has long since been swallowed up by land reclamation followed by the city of Usuki itself. The two surviving Edo period turrets are complimented by the rebuilt Daimon Turret.

Some mystery still surrounds the structure & appearance of the main tower. However, based on research, it is believed to have been a three-layer, four-story tower, 12 meters in height. It was connected to the Tsuke Turret by a series of two-story, hall-like turrets.

There is plenty to see in the castle town too. Several streets present beautifully preserved shops, houses & temples. And beyond these few streets are countless more crumbling storehouses awaiting restoration.

Google Map Views (グーグルマップ)

Best view ベストビュー
Orbit view 軌道ビュー


1562 The castle was built by Ōtomo Sōrin. He moved his headquarters from Funai castle in the north.
1578 Sōrin converted to the Christian faith & became known as Don Francisco.
1587 Sōrin died in a town located south-east call Tsukumi.
1600 Following the battle of Sekigahara, the Inaba clan were awarded the Usuki domain. In November, 20 hereditary retainers of the Inaba clan enter the castle. Then on December 25th, Inaba Sadamichi & his son entered the castle.
1644 The Tatami Turret was built sometime between 1644 & 1648.
1655 Repairs were made to the Main tower & its foundations.
1763 The Tatami Turret burnt down & was built in the following years.
1854 The Utonoguchimon wagi Turret was rebuilt. It had been known previously as the onteppo Gusuri Turret.
1873 The main tower & 31 turrets were torn down leaving just two buildings.
1877 With most defensive structures gone, it was no surprise that the castle fell within one day during the Seinan Rebellion.
2001 The Daimon Gate was rebuilt.

Historical recognition

SitePrefectural Historic Site