Ora Castle is at an edge of a mountain ridge that stretches from the east of Mt Takadate.
In the 1st year of the Tenbun period (1532), the Muto clan moved from Daihoji Castle to Ora and built this castle here.
Muto Yoshiuji suppressed the Shonai district using the power of Uesugi Kenshin, but he killed himself during Tozenji Yoshinaga's uprising. After that, the Muto, Uesugi and Tozenji clans fought for the castle, the ownership of which changed repeatedly.
In the 5th year of the Keicho period (1600), Shonai became the territory of Mogami Yoshimitsu and Ora Castle was rebuilt, being renamed Oyama Castle. In the 8th year of the Genna period (1622), the Mogami clan was banished and the castle destroyed.
Now, all that remains are some remains of the castle, which may be seen today at Oyama Park in front of Tsuruoka West High School.
Ora Castle is a symbol of warring between states in the Japan's civil war period.
Tsugaru Tamenobu used Horikoshi Castle for integrating the Tsuruga domain and as a base for the Hirosaki clan. It became the main clan castle when Tsugaru Tamenobu moved there from Ora Castle in the third year of the Bunroku period (1594), until the 16th year of the Keicho period (1611), when the 2nd clan head, Tsugaru Nobuhira, moved to Hirosaki Castle.
In November 1985, the castle was designated as a national historical site. Since 1998, in order to develop it as an historical park, excavation was carried out that revealed pillars, celadon and white porcelain as well as lacquerware.
Today, Horikoshi Castle is part of the grounds of the Kumano Shrine. National Highway 7 runs through part of the area. In the shrine, the mounds and dry moats recall the atmosphere of the old castle.
Namioka Castle was built by the Namioka Kitabatake Clan in the 1460s. The clan prospered in the early 1500s when it interacted with Kyoto and built temples and shrines.
But trouble within the clan in 1562 weakened their power base and in 1578 Ora (Tsugaru) Tamenobu attacked them and the castle fell. For the following 400 years, the castle remains were used as fields for growing rice, etc. On 10 February, 1940, the castle was designated as Aomori prefecture's first national historical site.
The castle's 8 buildings originally spread out like a fan, and were divided by dual moats 20m wide and 5m deep. There were pathways on clay walls. These unique constructions were intended to make the castle more maze-like and to protect it from enemies.
Moreover, more than 40,000 excavated articles have been found on the site, including dishes, cooking equipment, weapons, agricultural tools and artefacts for everyday and religious uses as well as architectural relics.
Ora Castle was established by Ora Mitsunobu, the founder of the Tsugaru clan and of Tsugaru Tanesato castle, in 1502.
For four generations (92 years), Ora Castle was the residence of the Ora clan. until the fifth lord, Ora Tamenobu, moved to Horikoshi Castle. Using Ora Castle as a hub, Ora Tamenobu, the fifth lord, conquered the Tsugaru and, in 1594, moved his locus operandi to Horikoshi Castle. After this move, the town around Ora Castle declined in prosperity.
The castle is formed of the main, secondary, third and west side buildings. Until the early Showa period, there was a moat constructed beside each of set of buildings. However, in the last century the castle underwent drastic changes, and there is little left of the past. All that remains is the castle kitchen, which is preserved and exhibited at Chosho Temple.
Ooura-tenshudo, or Ooura Cathedral, is the only church designated as a National Treasure and is the oldest remaining wooden gothic-style church in Japan. It is officially named “Church of the twenty-six Saints of Japan” and faces Nishizaka Hill. At this location in 1597, by order of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the absolute ruler of Japan at the time who outlawed Catholicism and persecuted Christians, twenty Japanese Christians and six European missionaries were crucified. Later in 1862, these Martyrs of Japan were canonized by the Catholic Church and remembered by other Christians worldwide. To commemorate the Saints, Ooura Cathedral was built under the direction of the French priest, Bernard Petitjean. When the Cathedral was originally built in a gothic style with three steeples, it had some unusual features such as its front center wall being baroque style and the outer walls being decorated with Namako-kabe style, geometrical patterns of white and darker colors. It was reconstructed in 1879 when all the outer walls were replaced with brick, converting it solely into a gothic-style building.