Nobeoka Castle and the 1,000 Enemy Killer Stone Walls
One of Nobeoka Castle’s most impressive features is the 22 meter high stone wall around the central Hon-Maru citadel. The story goes that if the castle should ever come under attack and a certain keystone was moved, the wall would tumble, killing 1,000 invaders!
Nobeoka Castle’s Sennin Goroshi walls
The walls were set to killed 1,000 attackers
Nobeoka Castle, formerly known as Agata Castle, in Kyushu’s east central Miyazaki Prefecture, was originally the fortified residence of the Tsuchimochi clan from the 10th century. The Tsuchimochi controlled lands across Kyushu’s Hyuga region, but lost much of their holdings when the Kamakura Shogunate provided the Shimizu clan with the southern districts, and the Ito clan with the Miyazaki plains. The Tsuchimochi retained only the northern areas. As can be expected, the various clans fought amongst each other for greater share of the fertile lands. In 1587 the region came under the control of Takahashi Mototane, who despite his affiliation with Ishida Mitsunari at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, maintained his lands there and commenced construction of Nobeoka Castle in 1601, completing it in 1603.
Layout of Nobeoka Castle
Rudimentary but strong stone walls
Set between two rivers that meet just east of Nobeoka, the castle was situated on a plateau-like hill around 200m long and 100m wide with three ellipse shaped terraces featuring well-constructed ishigaki dry stone walls along the western face. This is where the Sennnin Goroshi, the Thousand Killer Wall, a 20m high, 70m long wall can be found. The shape of the wall’s corner is interesting, as it curves downwards before suddenly curving into a near vertical drop towards the ground, and is reminiscent of a reverse angled fortissimo ( f ) mark. The eastern side of the castle does not have any stone wall work.
Interesting curvature in the walls of Nobeoka
Steep and sudden final drop
The Takahashi were replaced by Arima Yasuzumi in 1613 following a falling out with the Tokugawa Shogunate and expelled. The Arima clan, formerly of Hinoe Castle in Nagasaki strengthened the castle, adding not a keep, but a three story turret, and changed the name from Agata to Nobeoka Castle. The turret was destroyed in a blaze that started in the town in 1682, and was never replaced. The castle had a central Hon-Maru, Ni and San no Maru baileys surrounding it, while the Nishi no Maru, to the west, was the site of the lord’s residence. This area also covered a 200m long, 100m wide stretch of land that enhanced the castles defensive capabilities, allowing it to act like a Demaru, an outer defense separate from the main castle if the need should ever have arisen.
Remains of the San-no-Maru
Multi level stone work
The Arima were dismissed following peasant uprisings, and for the following years various hereditary retainers of the Tokugawa were placed in charge until 1747, when the Naito clan of Aichi Prefecture were transferred to Nobeoka, and remained until the beginning of the Meiji Period. The Naito clan graveyard can be found next to the Otemon Gate.
Main gate flanked by the Naito clan graveyard
Naito clan graveyard layout
Inside the main gate