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Spring 2015 Castle Travel Update June 25, 2015


Spring 2015 Castle Travel Update

I'm sorry that I've been very lazy with sending out blog updates lately. I did not have an opportunity to take in any overnight or extended castle trips this spring but I did make it a point to visit some of the minor Tokyo area castles when I had a chance. In total, I've added 12 new castles from 15 difference castle visits so far this year.

You may look at some of these castles and think "how small!" or "where are the stone walls and buildings?" several of these are good examples of smaller Sengoku Period fortifications. Apart from the major central castles of leading families, there were often many smaller forts around the territory, especially along borders with rival clans. These were often not very large or well developed. They served a specific purpose such as watching a road/border or simply being available for use in the case of attack. They often had no specific castle lord and were easily abandoned when they were no longer needed. This type of secondary fortification was largely outlawed by the Tokugawa who declared that each domain should have only one castle.

Saitama Prefecture

This set of three were an easy bike ride from Ogawamachi Station (Tobu Tojo Line). I also took in the special Ota Dokan exhibit at Sugaya Castle to finish the day. Koshigoe Castle and Aoyama Castle are part of the defensive line stretching from Matsuyama Castle to Hachigata Castle. Naka Castle which is older but smaller was probably used as a satellite fortification of Koshigoe Castle.

Naka Castle

Koshigoe Castle

Aoyama Castle


These three stretch in a line across from Kaneko Station to Higashi Oume Station. Again, they were an easy bike ride between these stations. These are typical of the small scale castles mentioned above. Even so that doesn't mean they're not interesting. Each has it's own features that are worth seeing in person. Imai Castle has well preserved moats and baileys, Fujihashi Castle has a great location, and Katsunuma Castle has both a good location and good view of the surrounding plain.

Imai Castle

Fujihashi Castle

Katsunuma Castle

Katakura Castle is an easy half day out from Tokyo if you want to visit a nearby castle ruin. Just by looking at a map or even the photos here it might not look that interesting, but when you're actually on the site you can see how the castle takes advantage of the location and the natural terrain to it's defense.

Katakura Castle

Tochigi Prefecture

These three were a long day trip from Tokyo. They are closely related to the skirmishes between the Satake and Nasu clans during the Sengoku Period. Karasuyama Castle is particularly interesting as one of the few Sengoku Period castles that would become an Edo Period castle with extensive stone walls.

Karasuyama Castle

Mumo Castle

Nasu Kanda Castle

Minagawa Castle is a neat castle on the edge of the mountain range extending into the Kanto Plain. Especially if you look at the map to see where the castle is located and the view from the top you can see why it was a good location. Mountaintop castles don't have to be on the highest mountain they just have to be high enough to enhance defenses and provide a good vantage point. I also really like the concentric circular bailey design. The geek in me thinks it looks like a Sengoku version of Gondor. It seems like it should be an effective design so I'm surprised there aren't more like this, unless I'm missing some vital weakness.

Minagawa Castle

Chiba Prefecture

A short half day trip from Tokyo. I was hoping the ridged moats would have more to see but they've been mostly buried or eroded down.

Kogane Castle

That's all for now. Summer is not the best time of the year to visit castles, but I may make a couple visits yet if I have the right chance. Normally, my castle visiting is on hold from the rainy season until the end of September.

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Viewer Comments

  • Eric    September 26, 2015 at 10:25 PM
    Hi Guys. Thanks for the comments. There are thousands of castles in Japan, so it would not be a realistic goal to add every castle site out there. In fact my Kanto "day trip" list alone has 98 sites I want to visit "soon". My goal is to add as many castles as I can with a personal touch. That includes researched history and details for the profiles and first hand descriptions of the castle and photos taken. For sites I've visited since 2009, all photos are GPS tagged and mapped too. I also add anything that someone sends me, but I don't solicit photos. I'll even write up the profiles if someone sends me at least 2 good photos. As Phibbyfan mentions, however, it may take some time. I do have a day job :)
  • phibbyfan    September 26, 2015 at 11:22 AM
    This website lists only castles that the creator has visited or that users have visited and sent pictures and information about to the site creator. I'm not sure if there is a "goal" per se, but if you have visited any castles not listed on the site, there is a form to fill in with information about it and then you need to email pictures of the site to the webmaster. It takes time for them to appear, though.
  • Ki    September 26, 2015 at 08:41 AM
    General question: you include castles on the site you've not yourself visited, and I compared with Japanese Castle Explorer's interactive map and it seems yours is more full, but there are some missing ones on yours. Do you intend to make a complete map, or is that not the goal? If you do intend to put on every single known visible castle site (where there are traces of the castle remaining) then I have some recommendations.