Kinojo 鬼ノ城
Founder Yamato Court (Yamato Choutei)
Year 7th C.
Type Mountaintop
Condition Other Buildings
Alternate Name Kinojozan
Reconstructed 2001-
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles
Location Soja, Okayama Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Hattori Sta. (Kibi Line); 2000 yen Taxi or 5.5km hike (see notes below)
Website Soja City - Kinojo
Visited November 20, 2010
Notes The top of the mountain is relatively flat offering an enjoyable hike around the castle grounds. Be sure to walk the full length and enjoy the incredible views of the surrounding valleys. The closest station is Hattori Station which is about a 5.5km hike to the castle. The first 2.1km is relatively flat but the rest is all uphill. If you want to take a taxi it costs about 2000 yen but there are none waiting at the station. You need to reserve in advance. If you don't know where to call to make a reservation or can't speak Japanese, ask them to help you at the Tourist Information Center underground at Okayama Station. Taxis are relatively available at Soja Station but it will cost over 3000 yen.
History The history of Kinojo is unclear since it is not mentioned in any historical records. It is believed that it was built by the Yamato Court in the Seventh Century to defend from foreign invaders. There were some 30 castles built around that time in Western Japan, of which, 27 have been located. Kinojo was discovered in 1971 and is currently thought to be the oldest castle in Japan. The outer wall is approximately 2.8 km long, with 4 main gates and one large defensive platform.
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  • onnajoshu    March 15, 2017 at 09:11 PM
    I took a taxi from Soja to the visitor center for 2740 yen and then walked back to Hattori Station (5.5 Km but mostly down hill). As furinkazan notes below, it is very simple! I really enjoyed the site and the nice walk around the top of the mountain.
  • yasuo narukawa    September 01, 2013 at 02:40 PM
    Maybe,Kino castle was built by Korian king of this area!
  • furinkazan    April 15, 2012 at 08:25 PM
    @John: After visiting today Takamatsujo, i went to Yashima. I visited the Yashimajinja, Shikoku-mura and Yashimaji. I asked info at several people about the yamashiro which stood on this mountain. There is a little metion about it in the book i bought at Kinojo. All of them didn't know about Kinojo. They knew that a castle stood on Yashimayama, but all told me that there isn't any info or book about it. At least one vendor could explain me that recently a part of a gate was found on the mountain. He told me the way to the site. Sadly the access to the site is prohibited. What i could see from the path are 2 mounds recovered with blue plastic and alot of stones lying in some order. So perhaps in the future we will have more info on these castles.
  • furinkazan on My Page    April 13, 2012 at 05:42 PM
    This is a very interesting site to visit. I did like the webmaster tells in the notes. They were very helpfull at the Information desk at the Okayama-station. I paid for the taxi-ride 1650yen. The entry to the site is free of fee, but for the effort of maintaining the site and reconstruction i bought the small book(500yen). Even if you don't read japanese, there are alot of interesting pictures and photos inside. There is another book(2000yen) with more indepth information, but too complicated for me. About the site itself: the reconstructed portions are very well done and this is really something different from other castles. I walked the full trail and indeed the view is marvelous. One advice : put your good walking-shoes on, some parts of the trail aren't that easy. I walked back to Hattori-station. The route is very simple : go straight ahead until you see the railroad, then turn to the left and you should see the station.
  • John    May 23, 2011 at 02:22 AM
    has anyone else noticed there seems to be a void in the documentation of japanese castles between the 600s and the 1300s? A Taira-held castle or fortress, Ichi-no-Tani, and another Taira-held fortress-castle at Yashima are mentioned in the acounts of the Genpei wars, but remarkably little information survies on them or any other castle of that time.
  • a22cricket on My Page    May 16, 2011 at 06:58 PM
    Very interesting site. The town has recreated a stone or iron age fort on a hill. Worth spending a day walking around the top and seeing the view. Towards the center is where the "town" was. Nice daytrip from Okayama city.
  • RaymondW on My Page    April 02, 2011 at 03:02 PM
    This must the oldest castle site that I have visited in Japan. There isn’t a lot to see here. There are some ishigaki, particularly ones with the “water gates” for rain run offs. As Eric has mentioned on his website, the views from this castle ruin are spectacular, and like him, I highly recommend you do walk right around the whole perimeter of this castle site. There is ongoing reconstruction work. Getting up to this castle is easy if you have a car or a motorbike. I took a train to the JR Hattori Station and then got to the castle on my folding bike. It isn’t that far, but on some stretches, the gradient certainly exceeded 10%. I reckon some of them could be as much as 14%. I have done similar climbs on my crossbike touring other parts of Japan. I rate this castle a two star for its ruins / reconstructions and three stars for its magnificent views.
  • phibbyfan    February 03, 2011 at 06:39 PM
    I'm surprised you didn't mention the supposed connection to local folklore. This is where Ura is said to have lived (the oni that fought against Prince Kibitsuhiko). The famous Momotaro story is said to have originated from this tale. I know it's not "real" history, but it is a very distinguishing and interesting fact.
  • nite127    January 22, 2011 at 12:38 PM
    Oldest castle I've ever seen!
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Soja, Okayama Pref.
Kinojo views
West Gate West Gate
West Gate West Gate
West Gate West Gate
West Gate West Gate
Inside the West Gate Kakuro, a defensive platform
View from the Kakuro West Gate
West Gate Tsuijibei walls
stone paved road atop the wall water drainage gates
South Gate East Gate
stone walls earthen wall
North Gate North Gate
North Gate remains of a wall
building foundations