The Red wall temple Goganji 合元寺

In 1587, the ruler of Nakatsu was Kuroda Takataka. He was appointed by the “shogun” of Japan, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who was having difficulty getting the support of the local ruler, Utsunomiya Zimbo (at the time Toyotomi wasn’t considered a Shogun but in our day, he is considered one).  So, Kuroda invited him over to Nakatsu castle, claiming to discuss a marriage between the two clans. It was supposed to be a merry time full of drinking and celebration.  But this was a lie. Kuroda tricked him into coming and killed him when he came to the castle.

Utsunomiya’s samurai weren’t allowed at the Nakatsu castle but at the nearby Goganji temple. After the deed was done, Kuroda sent his troops to the temple and a vicious battle ensued. Kuroda and his army defeated Utsunomiya’s men with dozens of lives taken.  After the battle, the local rebellions subsided, but what was left is the blood that was splattered on the exterior walls of the temple. An attempt was made to cover the blood with white paint, to restore them to the original color, but the blood kept showing through. So, the order was made to paint the walls of the Goganji temple red and even today, those same walls are still painted red.

Goganji in Fall
Goganji gate

Another remnant of the battle is the sword marks that remain on the posts of the gate to the temple

Sword marks in the gate column

Goganji Temple is located in the Temple Town of Nakatsu city.  When the castle was designed, they rearranged the town as well.  The temples were placed on the undefended edge opposite of the river, where the castle was most vulnerable. The temples are the next largest structures in town which provided as obstacles to block the way of any would-be attackers.

Goganji on a sunny day

Temple town is scenic and historic. It is well worth a visit when you’re in Nakatsu.  It is only a few minutes from the train station and a few minutes from the Castle.

See the link below for the Google map location.