Hiji castle ruinsHayami District, Oita Prefecture

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Hiji Castle ruins DATA
Other nameHiroya Castle
castle construction1602
address2610-1 Hijimachi, Hayami-gun, Oita Prefecture
Access to Hiji Castle ruins
Approximately 5 minutes walk from JR "Kotani" station

HISTORYHiji Castle, which is also the origin of the word “joka flounder”

Hinode Castle is a flat castle built in Hiji Town, Hayami District, Oita Prefecture. This castle overlooks Beppu Bay and functioned as the domain office of the Hiji clan, which was ruled by the Kinoshita family from its construction until the Meiji Restoration. Hiji Town's specialty, ``Joshita flounder,'' was specially named because the mako flounder caught in the sea directly below Hiji Castle was particularly delicious. Let's unravel the history of Hiji Castle.

Hiji Castle before the Azuchi-Momoyama period
Hayami District in Oita Prefecture was called Bungo Province until the Meiji period, and was ruled by the Ogami clan until the Sengoku period. The Ogami clan has a very long history, and one theory says that they ruled this area as chief priests and Negi at Usa Jingu Shrine during the Kofun period. The Ogami clan later became a group of local samurai during the Kamakura period, and eventually became part of the vassals of the Otomo clan, who were assigned to protect the area from the Kamakura shogunate. There is a theory that the Ogami clan built a castle called ``Hiji Castle'', although it was located in a different location from the current one. Hiji Castle is said to have fallen during the Toyosatsu War between the Shimazu clan and the Otomo clan, who plotted to rule the entire Kyushu region during the Sengoku period. However, there is also a record that Shigemasa Mori, a vassal of the Toyotomi clan who became the lord of Hayami District after the Otomo clan reformed, became the lord of Hiji Castle.
From the construction of Hiji Castle to the Meiji era
The person who built Hiji Castle, where the ruins of the castle still remain today, was Nobutoshi Kinoshita, the first generation of the Hiji clan. Nobutoshi Kinoshita was born as the third son of Kinoshita Iesada, the older brother of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's legal wife One (Kodaiin). He served Toyotomi Hideyoshi, but at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, he sided with the eastern army with the advice of his wife's older brother, Tadaoki Hosokawa. For this reason, he was praised for his achievements and was given 30,000 koku of Hiji in Hayami District, Bungo Province, and established the Hiji clan.
Hiji Castle was built between the 7th and 8th years of the Keicho era (1602-1603) with the help of Tadaoki Hosokawa. The stone walls from that time still remain at the Hiji Castle ruins, and it is said that the stone walls were built by the Anatashu, a group of stonemasons who also served Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The stone wall was made using a method called ``Nara-zumi'' and is a valuable relic that preserves the techniques of the time. As a side note, in 1960, during construction of the castle coast promenade, a wooden coffin was excavated from the southwest end of the castle. This wooden coffin was placed in a hole carved out of the bedrock, and a large rock, the foundation of the castle, was placed on top of it.
Inside this wooden coffin were human bones, which were found to be from the time when Hiji Castle was built, as well as a ceramic old elephant, and metal fittings for a helmet were placed on top of a large rock. There was a legend that a human pillar was erected at Hiji Castle when the castle was built, and this is an example that has been proven to be true. It is said that construction was difficult due to the weak ground in the southwest part of the castle where the human pillar was excavated. A ``human pillar shrine'' is currently being built at the excavation site.
Hinode Castle after the Meiji era
In the Meiji era, most of the buildings at Hiji Castle were demolished due to the Castle Abandonment Ordinance. Bokai-yagura and Kimon-yagura are left behind, and Ura-mon-yagura (bell tower) will be relocated. Afterwards, Bokai-yagura was used as the school building of Hiji Elementary School, but it was later demolished when the school building was rebuilt. However, Kimon Yagura, which had been taken over by the Nakamura family, was relocated and restored in 2013. The back gate turret was also relocated in 2010, and the stone wall and two turrets can now be seen on the castle ruins.
Currently, an elementary school is built on the site of the main enclosure of Hinode Castle, and you can even go inside the restored Kimon Yagura in the Ninomaru. Please note that you are not allowed to enter the elementary school grounds without permission. There is also a bronze statue of Rentaro Taki, a composer from the Meiji era, on the premises. This comes from the fact that Rentaro Taki's ancestor was a senior vassal of the Hiji clan.
Currently, only a portion of the Hiji Castle ruins remains, including the Kimon-yagura, Ura-mon-yagura, stone walls, and dry moat. However, the stone walls are valuable remains that still convey the architectural style of the early Edo period. Additionally, you can see the beautiful Beppu Bay from the castle ruins, and you can enjoy the cherry blossoms and the ocean in spring.

History of the Hiji clan, whose domain office was the ruins of Hiji Castle

Hiji domainDedicated by a family connected to Toyotomi Hideyoshi
The Hiji domain was a small domain with an income of 25,000 koku that covered the entire Hayami district of Oita prefecture. Kinoshita Nobutoshi, the third son of Kinoshita Iesada and the older brother of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's legal wife One (Kodaiin), became the first lord of the domain, and the Kinoshita family continued to serve as the domain lord until the Meiji Restoration without being transferred.
Hiji domain
Hijihan DATA
Domain officeHiji castle ruins
old areaHayami District, Bungo Province
stone height25,000 koku
main lordKinoshita family
Estimated population21,000 people (first year of the Meiji era)
Japanese Castle Photo Contest.03