Sekigahara, Kunitomo, Ruins of Odani Castle, Shizugatake, Nagahama

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Sekigahara, Kunitomo, Shizugatake, Ruins of Odani Castle, Nagahama
Tour Code: OK1108
Tour Fee: 9600 Discount Price: 8100

This tour visits some fascinating historic sites in eastern Shiga Prefecture. Our first destination is the Battlefield of Sekigahara. Located on the western edge of the flat plain currently dominated by the sprawling metropolitan area of Nagoya, the narrow pass was a choke point between eastern and western Japan. Even today, the shinkansen, expressway and Tokaido main line pass through here. In 1600, the valley was the site of the largest and bloodiest battle in Japan’s long history of civil war. The victory here by Tokugawa Ieyasu, filled the power vacuum that had been created by Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s death in 1598. We will observe the battlefield from the viewpoint of Ishida Mitsunari, Ieyasu’s rival, who purported to be acting in support of Hideyoshi’s young heir, Hideyori. This battle (and many others such as the sieges of Fushimi Castle) effectively marks the beginning of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

We next visit the Kunitomo Matchlock Museum. The mass production of firearms domestically at Kunitomo, Sakai (near Osaka) and a handful of other foundry centers tipped the balance of power towards the Oda, Toyotomi, and later Tokugawa during the end of Japan’s long period of civil war. At Kunitomo, good quality ore was mined, and high grade charcoal obtained from the nearby forests. When Oda Nobunaga bequeathed the Kunitomo district to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the expansion of armaments production became one of his top priorities. The muskets made in Kunitomo were matchlocks, of late 15th century/early 16th century design, and at the museum you get to hold real ones.

Our next destinations are the battlefield of Anegawa (1570) and the ruins of the nearby Odani Castle. An agricultural area today, the battlefield is fairly well preserved. For 3 long years the Azai family fought against the emerging hegemony of Oda Nobunaga, his vassals and allies such as Tokugawa Ieyasu. Although defeated at Anegawa in 1570, the Azai retired to their mountaintop castle and resisted for 3 more years. At the time considered impregnable, the ruins of Odani castle provide spectacular views over Lake Biwa, and at this time of year the autumn leaves are beautiful. The 3 daughters of the Azai family survived. The eldest became the concubine of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and the mother of Hideyoshi’s heir, killed during the attack on Osaka Castle by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1615. The youngest became the wife of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s son Hidetada (2nd shogun), and the mother of the 3rd shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu. A messy business is civil war.

From Odani we head to the battlefield of Shizugatake. Fought just 10 years after the fall of Odani castle, this decisive battle consolidated the rise to power of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a veteran of Anegawa. We ride a chairlift most of the way up the mountain, before hiking up to the peak – the views over Lake Yogo and the northern sections of Lake Biwa are breathtaking.

We end the day in the beautiful town of Nagahama on the shores of Lake Biwa, where Hideyoshi had his castle prior to Shizugatake. Undamaged during World War 2 (the sole air raid consisting of 1 single engine naval aircraft, dropping 1 bomb), Nagahama is rare in Japan in that it has maintained much of it’s traditional streetscape, cuisine (wild duck sukiyaki is a big thing here) and cultural heritage. There will be some free time, and we will have the chance to savor some of the local delicacies, including funazushi, local sake, Omi beef & craft beer at the local brewery.

Departs: East Exit, JR Okazaki Station, 7:45am. Returns: 9:00pm (approx)
Mode of transport: Minivan or Microbus
Deadline for Discount Price: 28 days prior
Tour Code: OK1108 (needed for application form below)

Click here to apply (opens new window).