Nanao Castle 七尾城
Founder Hatakeyama Mitsunori
Year 1428/29 (?)
Type Mountaintop
Condition Ruins
Alternate Name Matsuo-jo
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles
Location Nanao City, Ishikawa Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Nanao Sta, Nanao Line; 5km (take a taxi)
Website Nanao City Sightseeing
Visited June 12, 2006
Notes A very nice mountaintop ruin, signs and walking trails display all the major locations. You can easily see all the main structures of the castle and many stone walls remain. It's best to take a taxi and ask them to pick you up again in an hour or 2. There is a nice view from the Honmaru (central bailey) at the top so pack a lunch and enjoy the outdoors.

The Hatakeyama built up and fortified Nanao Castle so that in its prime it was one of the 5 strongest mountaintop castles in Japan. Eventually the castle fell to Uesugi Shingen in 1577 after a long protracted battle. This battle escalated the fighting between Oda Nobunaga and Uesugi. After the Uesugi were defeated and Maeda Toshiie took control of this area he built a new castle in Nanao city, but instead of making use of the ruins of this Nanao Castle he built one at Komaruyama, closer to the city center. Recent excavations show that Nanao castle was even larger than previously believed and they are considering expanding the historical site.

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  • RaymondW on My Page    May 17, 2015 at 11:11 AM
    My wife and I finally made it to this castle after a few false starts because of bad weather for the previous times that we had planned to go. We went during Golden Week and had an absolutely perfect spring day for enjoying this mountaintop castle ruin. We took a taxi from Nanao Station up to the castle ruin. It cost about 2,500yen, so I reckon it must have been around a 7 to 8km ride. If you are driving up to Nanao Castle, there is a carpark with space for at least a dozen cars. There is also a modern toilet block opposite the carpark. This castle ruin certainly deserves its reputation as a highly rated yamajiro in Japan with the likes of Iwamura Castle, Takatori Castle, and Oka Castle. A free pamphlet (Japanese only) with a detailed map is available in a box at the entrance to this castle ruin. There is plenty of ishigaki to be found around the Main Bailey (Honmaru) and Sakurababa Bailey with a panoramic view of the Nanao Bay from the Honmaru. There are also earthwork remnants left including gate ruins, earthen embankments, and moats. All the major baileys are open to the public with easy paths, wooden stairs linking the Second Bailey with the Third Bailey, and sufficient signposts to know let where you are. In general, the castle site is fairly well maintained. According to our taxi driver, Nanao Castle has a festival on 13th September every year. This is the date when the Hatakeyama Clan lost the castle to Uesugi Kenshin after a long siege. After spending around 2.5 hours on site sussing out the stone walls and earthworks, we descended the mountain via the old Ote Trail. It’s only 1.5km and even including scrambling around and taking photos of the overgrown Bansho Bailey and Jisho Bailey further down the hill, it only took us around 30-ish minutes to get down to the trailhead. From there, it is roughly another 0.5km to the Nanao Castle Museum. At the museum, there are exhibits (outside the building) of mainly tiles found from archaeological digs on site. Also, there are just two wooden doors from one of the castle’s yakuimons (yukui-styled gate). Inside the museum, the highlight was a computer-generated virtual tour of what this sprawling castle complex looked like during the Sengoku Period. It looked like during the Sengoku Period, the whole mountain was covered with terraced baileys, and the “castle proper” accessible now is only a fraction of the “fortified town” of Nanao Castle. This CG video was only introduced from 2014. Entry to the museum cost 400yen which includes both the museum and a traditional house with a straw roof. A taxi back to Nanao Station from the Nanao Castle Museum cost about 1,300yen. Nanao Castle Ruin along with the castle museum is certainly worth at least two stars, but on the fine spring day with its fantastic view, it may be more enjoyable for a castle fan than just a two star rating.
  • rebolforces on My Page    November 18, 2013 at 09:14 AM
    Nanao Castle Museum at base is small but has a few nice pieces of excavated finds. The grass roofed building next to it has traditional furniture, household items and a painted scene of a castle encampment. Will need to return to better explore the ruins. Was very cold and windy on the path.
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Nanao City, Ishikawa Pref.
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