12 new castle profiles from ART

From Jcastle.info

12 new castle profiles from ART

2020/04/26


ART has contributed another 12 castle profiles stretching from Shiga Prefecture to Ibaraki Prefecture. See the map below for details.

Thanks again for everyone's recent contributions. It's good to see we're not getting cabin fever in all this corona-craziness. I'll have some updates of my own starting in a few days. Keep a watch here or on Facebook for future updates!


Arako Castle / 荒子城

Arakojou (1).JPG

No ruins remain of Arakojō. The site of the castle is now a shrine and small park. A signboard at the shrine explains about the castle and Maeda Toshiie. Banners there proudly proclaim "the birthplace of Maeda Toshiie". The nearby temple, Arako-Kannonji, also has some history related to the Maeda Clan and existed alongside Arakojō. The temple's Tahōtō (stupa) was built in 1536, possibly around the same time as the castle, and is the oldest building in modern Nagoya. A thatched-roof shrine at the temple honours the Maeda.
Chojayama Castle / 長者山城

Choujayamajou (3).JPG

The ruins of Chōjayamajō consist of large dorui (earthen ramparts) and karabori (dry moats). Segments of dorui can be found around the former main and second baileys. The castle was built in the "corner" of a cliff, but between the baileys and the cliffline runs a long moat system, giving an extra layer of defence. I descended into this overgrown area from the karabori in front of the main bailey, and encountered several right-angled turns, meaning the moat worked its way in between the main and second baileys in a zigzagging fashion. Originally Chōjayamajō consisted of five baileys. The main, second and third were situated in a ladder-like layout, and smaller baileys existed to the side of the main bailey. The site today is now agricultural land and farmsteads.
Furuwatari Castle / 古渡城

Furuwatarijou (2).JPG

What was briefly Furuwatari Castle is now the site of a small park and the Higashi Betsuin temple complex. Are the embankments which surround Shimochaya Park the remains of the castle's ramparts? The site has been a garden since the Edo Period. A sign in the park also indicated that, according to old maps from the Bakumatsu Period, there is a place in the vicinity labelled as the tenshudai-ato (former site of a platform for a castle tower). These pictures are of the garden and temple. There is a marker and information board for the castle ruin at the temple.
Futohyama Castle / 太尾山城

Futohyamajou (1).JPG

Futôyamajō is a yamajiro (mountaintop castle) you can go to if you have some time between changing trains at Maibara (Maibara is a small town but its station is an important railway connection). That’s what I did anyway. It takes less than ten minutes to walk from the station to Yutani-jinja where the trail to the castle ruin can be found. The ruins of Futôyamajō consist of the north castle and south castle. The trail leads to a trench between the two. The ruins each contain the remains of dorui (earthen ramparts), kuruwa (baileys) and hori (trenches). The north ruin contains a yaguradai (turret platform). Though inspecting the ruins necessarily requires re-tracing all of one’s steps, it doesn’t take long to walk throughout the whole site.
Hatsuzawa Castle / 初沢城

Hatsuzawajou (1).JPG

The ruins of Hatsuzawa Castle consist of kuruwa (baileys) and horikiri (trenches cut into the mountain ridge). The hiking trail starts at the Takao Tenjin Shrine. There are several baileys located here in the castle-mount's lower reaches, starting directly above the shrine. The path leads to a fork. To the right is the shukuruwa (main bailey), and to the left are trench remains and the second and third baileys. The ruin can be accessed from this direction too via a path which goes by a water tower.
Hitachi Takekuma Castle / 常陸武熊城

HitachiTakekumajou0.JPG

There's just a marker here to signify the former site of Takekuma Castle, and no ruins.
Hitachi Yorii Castle / 常陸寄居城

HitachiYoriijou (9).JPG

The ruins of Yorii Castle consist of earthworks such as dorui (rammed earth embankments) and karabori (dry moats). The main bailey is now a small cemetery. At the entrance to the site, to the south, is a small village, and a very narrow road brings one to fields surrounded by woodland. A stretch of old earthen ramparts runs across the back of the fields. This is the main part of the central ruin but in the wooded area beyond there is an extensive moat network. The karabori starts beneath the dorui to the right as one enters the main enclosure (to the left it has been filled in), and wraps around the back of the main bailey (where the tombstones are). It continues on passed the dorui of the main bailey up until a point almost back at the roadside, corresponding to an outer bailey, I assume. I tried to follow the moat the whole way but it is very difficult and overgrown, and I had to scramble over many fallen trees and such obstacles. Unfortunately in one part it is full of rubbish from fly-tipping. Interestingly the shape of the central enclosure is semi-circular and the rear moat is elliptical.
Ina Castle / 伊奈城

Inajou (1).JPG

Ina Castle is a flatland medieval castle ruin with a reconstructed miyagura (watch tower). It's earthen remains consist of the shukuruwa (main bailey) and a large, bulky segment of dorui (earth-piled rampart).
Kariya Castle / 刈谷城

Kariyajou (8).JPG

I went to the ruins of Kariya Castle not expecting much at all. However, this suburban park does retain identifiable castle features, such as kuruwa (baileys), dorui (earth-piled ramparts) and mizubori (water moats). Dorui can be found ringing the honmaru (main bailey), beneath which wraps an obiguruwa (ring bailey). According to signs I found on site, as well as on the castle's wikipedia entry, there are ambitious plans to rebuild the castle, including two turrets, two gates, a gatehouse, and adjoining walls and connecting turrets. If this plan is realised then I would certainly like to return to Kariyajō. The Tatsumi-yagura (a turret) from Kariyajō was relocated to a distant temple, Myōfukuji, in the Meiji Period, where it now serves as a Rōmon (Pavilion Gate). Viewing pictures online, I must say it doesn't look like a castle turret, and so maybe it has been heavily modified overtime.
Minami Sakaide Castle / 南酒出城

MinamiSakaidejou (15).JPG

The ruins of Minami-Sakaidejō feature dorui (earthen ramparts), karabori (dry moats), dobashi (earthen bridges) and kuruwa (baileys). There are five baileys in total with earthworks wrapping all the way around the first and second. The third is a farmstead now. The fourth is a wooded area one enters the site via. And the fifth bailey, an expansive outer kuruwa, is now farmland and the site of the temple Sōryūji (蒼龍寺). The ruins are heavily wooded, and I think probably intended as a cedar plantation (hay fever factory). "Minami" means "south", but Minami-Sakaide appears to be the name of the area and I haven't found any correspondong "north castle".
Nakasai Castle / 那珂西城

Nakasaijou (1).JPG

The ruins of Nakasai Castle consist of earthworks such as tall dorui (earthen ramparts) and karabori (dry moats). It is classified as a hirayamajiro (hilltop castle) because it is built on a sloping clifftop, 30m tall. The moats also run between the clifftop and the ramparts of the main bailey, providing an extra line of defence in addition to the elevation itself. I noted this feature earlier at Chojayama Castle, and later at Urizura Castle too. By contrast, even though the Ina Valley in Nagano Prefecture has many clifftop castle sites, they relied soley on the terrain to protecte them from the cliffside. The castle ruin is now the site of a temple, Hōdōin, which occupies the main bailey. The temple, however, consists of just a cemetary, main hall and priest's house, and there is still a lot of empty space, the inner precincts of the castle being quite vast. The dorui the whole way around the main bailey is well preserved, and there are what I think may be segments of dorui rising out of the surrounding countryside which previously constituted the castle's outer baileys. The size of the castle, known from historical maps, meant that it could be fairly called a small town. Viewed from satellite images, we can see that a large jutting promontory pushes from the mountainous interior in the direction of Mito and that Nakasaijō was located on its tip, with the Naka River to the north. This commanding position allowed the castle to lord over the surrounding plains.
Urizura Castle / 瓜連城

Urizurajou (1).JPG

The ruins of Uriźurajō are set upon a sloping clifftop overlooking the Kuji River plain. The remains of earthworks consist of tall, sweeping ramparts with dry moats beneath. The moats are situated between the cliff and the ramparts, creating an extra defensive barrier in addition to the terrain itself. The moats then turn in-land, as it were, away from the cliffs, but peter out, perhaps having been filled in. The ruins of the castle are now the site of an interesting temple, Jōfukuji. When we came they were displaying tiny buddhist statues. I had never seen such small yet intricate carvings. Parts of the dorui (earth-piled ramparts) have been consumed by the temple complex's necropolis, and here there is what may have been a yaguradai (platform for a castle tower).
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