It is thought that this castle was originally constructed by the Mimura Clan or the Ogasawara Clan. It was involved in the campaigns of the Takeda Clan in the area and probably served as a supplementary fortification to the main Mimura stronghold at nearby Takeijō. Later the Kamijō Clan took up residence at the castle (the area has many, many families called Kamijō today). An old mountaintop castle, Asahijō was likely abandoned long before the Edo Period.
I was unfortunate to happen across a sign indicating the existence of this castle site. Said sign promised features like karabori (moats) and obikuruwa (belt bailey) around the central enclosure. I’m not sure I was able to identify these however. So now I knew of a castle ruin, and the mountain was before me. I had a couple of hours of sunlight left. I had to check it out. Now, I am not a skilled mountaineer. I quickly lost what I thought was a trail and decided to simply assault the mount head on. This was much more difficult than I had anticipated and I ended up crawling much of the way up (and sliding down). Gravity never felt so oppressive. Highlights of that interminable slog include falling off a fallen log spanning a dried-up ravine; stopping myself falling backward by grabbing a branch – with my teeth; ominously coming across beast droppings; and collapsing like sand what I thought was a sturdy rock formation… I’m getting too old for this. Needless to say I got quite tired and dirty. As for the castle, I was really appreciative to find a worn out old marker at the flat top of the mountain summit indicating its former existence. Asahi Castle is in three parts: the big castle, little castle, and an unnamed middle bailey. The big castle bailey is not so expansive but is the furthest along, I imagine, at the final point of a ladder layout (baileys arranged in a line, passing through one to get to the next) and therefore the toughest part of the old fortress to assault. Now all is mountain and there’s not much to see really. However, I only had time to make it to the “big castle” part, and so I plan to go back to see the other baileys if I can find a suitable trail. Asahijō (旭城) is in Asahi-mura (朝日村) but they take different kanji.
|English Name||Asahi Castle|
|Year Founded||Sengoku Period|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Artifacts||Trenches, Baileys; karabori (moats) and obikuruwa (belt bailey) around the central enclosure|
|Access||Alpico Bus Service to Asahi Village from Hirooka Station on the Shinanoi Line|
|Visitor Information||24/7 free|
|Time Required||one hour|
|Location||Asahi, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 8' 23.06" N, 137° 51' 46.15" E|
|Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|
|Added to Jcastle||2019|