Military Wiki
Nanao Castle
Nanao, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan
Ruins of Nanao Castle
Type yamajiro-style Japanese castle
Coordinates Latitude:
Built c.1408
Built by Hatakeyama clan
In use Nanboku-Sengoku period
Demolished 1589
Open to
the public

Nanao Castle (七尾城 Nanao jō?) was a Muromachi period yamajiro-style Japanese castle located in what is now the city of Nanao, Ishikawa Prefecture, in the Hokuriku region of Japan. It is protected by the central government as a National Historic Site.[1][2]


Nanao Castle is located on the southeastern side of former Noto Peninsula facing the Sea of Japan. The area was important from the Nara period due to its good port and connections with neighbouring provinces. In 1408, Hatakeyama Mitsunori, from a branch line of the Hatakeyama clan, was appointed governor of Noto Province and first constructed a castle at this location around the year 1408. Although the main Hatakeyama clan diminished in power and influence with the growing strength of the Ashikaga clan under the Muromachi shogunate, the Hatakeyama in Noto ruled their area as a semi-independent fief. Hatakeyama Yoshifusa (1491-1545) expanded Nanao Castle into a huge fortress. However, after his death, the Hatakeyama suffered from internal conflicts with the clan and with increasing restive powerful retainers, and problems with the Ikkō-ikki.


Nanao Castle regarded as one of the five largest medieval mountain castles in Japan along with Kasugayama Castle (Niigata Prefecture), Odani Castle and Kannonji Castle (Shiga Prefecture), and Gassan Toda Castle (Shimane Prefecture).[3] It is located along the upper slopes of Shiroyama mountain, a 300 meter height south edge of modern city of Nanao and consisted of several enclosures, each with stone ramparts and dry moats. The central enclosure was at the top of the hill, and could only be reached by passing through the enclosures assigned to important vassals of the Hatakeyama, which completely surrounded the central enclosure on several concentric levels on the lower slopes. The total size of the fortifications exceeded one square kilometer.


Uesugi Kenshin invaded Noto Province in 1576 just after conquering neighbouring Etchu Province. Kenshin first reduced the branch castles surrounding Nanao Castle in order to isolate the main castle and to protect his lines of communication; however, Nanao Castle proved to be too difficult to capture and he was forced to retreat. He returned the following year, and laid siege to the castle. Hatakeyama Yoshitaka appealed to Oda Nobunaga for assistance, but before Nobunaga could respond, an epidemic spread over the castle and Yoshitake died. The defenders were demoralised, but one of the chief Hatakeyama retainers, Cho Tsunatsura resisted intensely. On the other hand, Kenshin succeeded in subverting another chief vassal, Yusa Tsugumitsu, who betrayed the Cho and opened the gates to Kenshin's forces. Ken shin subsequently defeated the army of Shibata Katsuie who had been sent by Nobunaga at the Battle of Tedori River to relieve the castle. After Kenshin died in 1578, the Nobunaga's forces conquered Noto Province in 1581. And Maeda Toshiie was appointed to a lord of Noto. He built a new castle at Komaruyama (小丸山) and Nanao Castle was abandoned in 1589.[4]


The castle is now only ruins, with some stone ramparts, baileys. A museum is on site.[2][5]


  1. "七尾城跡" (in Japanese). Ishikawa Prefecture official home page. Ishikawa Prefecture. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Nanao Castle Profile". Retrieved 2016-05-21. 
  3. "Nanao castle - SamuraiWiki". 2009-12-21. Retrieved 2016-05-21. 
  4. Turnbull, Stephen (2000). The Samurai Sourcebook. London: Cassell & C0. p. 228. ISBN 1854095234. 
  5. "Nanao Castle". Japan Web Magazine. Retrieved 2016-05-21. 


  • Schmorleitz, Morton S. (1974). Castles in Japan. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co.. pp. 144–145. ISBN 0-8048-1102-4. 
  • Motoo, Hinago (1986). Japanese Castles. Tokyo: Kodansha. p. 200 pages. ISBN 0-87011-766-1. 
  • Mitchelhill, Jennifer (2004). Castles of the Samurai: Power and Beauty. Tokyo: Kodansha. p. 112 pages. ISBN 4-7700-2954-3. 
  • Turnbull, Stephen (2003). Japanese Castles 1540-1640. Osprey Publishing. p. 64 pages. ISBN 1-84176-429-9. 

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