The serene gardens of Kitabatake Gardens were once host to a bloody massacre. Ruled by the Kiriyama Castle ruling clan, the Kitabatake, for 240 years spanning nine generations, the clan was destroyed in 1576. Oda Nobunaga’s son, Nobukatsu, was adopted and married into the Kitabatake family; however, after only one year, he killed the family and vassals and took over their castle and domains.
After the Warring State Period, the garden fell into disrepair and was all but overgrown in the early Edo period. It found life once more thanks to former remaining vassals of the Kitabatake clan and locals who erected a shrine on the site. Today, the gardens are a rare example of the elegance of a daimyo garden dating from the Sengoku period.
Stone bridges make a path through the gardens where moss and trees cover the ground. The small ponds dotting the gardens make for a refreshing vista and it almost feels as if you’ve fallen back to the Sengoku period from the still and quiet around you.
One of fifteen shrines of the Kenmu Restoration, the Kitabatake Shrine houses the gods of the vanquished clan. It stands on the grounds of the Kitabatake Gardens.
The remains of Kiriyama Castle--home to the Kitabatake clan for more than 240 years and eight generation--is now all but lost. The remains, a few earthen walls, can still be seen at the former site of the castle on the Kitabatake Garden grounds.
A 10-minute taxi ride from Ise-Okutsu Station.