Hachioji Castle

In 1585, the most powerful man in Japan was a samurai warlord made imperial regent named Toyotomi Hideyoshi. He rose through society from a lowly, dirt grubbing farmer to a man who would be the one to unite Japan after a hundred years of civil war.

While he had subdued most of the country, the Kanto region still remained under the control of a certain Hojo clan, a samurai family who refused to bow down and swear allegiance to Hideyoshi.

At the time, Hojo Ujimasa was the lord of Odawara Castle. His brother Hojo Ujiteru was the lord of Hachioji Castle, an old school mountaintop fortress in the west side of present Tokyo.

Hideyoshi marched to Odawara with a massive military force and laid siege to the castle. Ujiteru took the bulk of his army and rushed to Odawara to assist his brother in defending the castle. He left behind a skeleton crew and the women and children. Little did he know, Hideyoshi had sent two of his generals to attack Hachioji Castle while he was away.

  • What happened next wasn't a battle, it was a massacre. Surrounded by enemy forces, the women grabbed their children and ran to a nearby waterfall in their garden. The women killed the babies in the stream and then slit their own throats so they wouldn’t be taken by the enemy. The water was said to have run red for 3 days and stained the rice growing in the paddies that lay downstream.

    The samurai defenders had presumably already run to the highest part of the mountain to see if it was still defensible. When they saw that the castle was lost, they performed seppuku or fought to the death.

    About a week later, Odawara Castle also fell and Hideyoshi ordered the brothers, Ujimasa and Ujiteru, to commit seppuku. That was the end of Hojo's control in the Kanto area and was the beginning of the end for the Hojo clan.

    Hachioji Castle

    Hachioji Castle

    The castle was never rebuilt and eventually was eventually overtaken by nature. The locals knew the mountain was stained with death and in-turn must be haunted.

    They said that when mist covered the mountains, you could hear the sound of the castle burning. The shouts of men locked in mortal combat, and the clanging of swords echoed through the forest. The scariest reports were the wailing of the ladies of the castle as they slit their children’s throats in the bloody stream.

    This haunted mountain was seen as an evil place, and it wasn’t until 1817 that the villagers erected a statue near the waterfall in order to placate the ghosts. It bore a very simple inscription: “Lord have mercy on us.”