Hisawajō was built to protect Suwa-taisha, a complex of shrines. In 1483 the Ôhori Branch leader invited the Sōryō Branch leader (the history of the shrine(s) is long and complicated) and his son to a banquet, got them drunk and then had them assassinated. His plan was to gain ascendancy over the other branch but backfired terribly when the Chino, Moriya, Ariga, Yazaki, Kosaka and Fukushima clans all rebelled in response and attacked Hisawajō which fell in the subsequent siege. Conflicts between the two brances continued for the next century, often as part of wider conflicts between rival powers elsewhere, and Hisawajō was involved in several of these conflicts.
The ruins of Hisawa Castle can be reached via a path from the side of the Suwa-taisha Maemiya. It seemed like there might be a path leading from a road which swings right beneath the castle but even though I found old signboards for the castle here I could see no clear path up. Some old rice paddies reach up the mountain and there is a trail from the shrine side, and it takes but a moment to reach the castle ruins (a sign says fifteen minutes but that must mean to the main bailey).
The ruins of Hisawajō consist of four integral baileys alligned in a row (hashigo "ladder" layout) with the shukuruwa (main bailey) furthest back. I came first to the sannokuruwa (third bailey) which is separated from the ninokuruwa (second bailey) by a wide karabori (dry moat). The third bailey looms over the fourth, which is directly below it with only the ramparts of the sannokuruwa separating them. The ninokuruwa is terraced, is somewhat overgrown in parts and contains a pylon. This bailey is the least maintained, but progressing on past another large trench one comes to the shukuruwa, which is nice and cleared.
Throughout the site sub-baileys are everywhere carved into the mountainside surrounding the four principle baileys. Scattered around are some stones once used at the castle, but I found no ishigaki (stone-piled ramparts). Adjacent to the site is a sub-fortification called Fort Nagabayashi.
|English Name||Hisawa Castle|
|Founder||Suwa-Taisha Ohhori Clan|
|Year Founded||15th Century or Earlier|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Designations||Local Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Artifacts||Karabori, Baileys, Horikiri, Terracing|
|Access||Chino Station on the Chuo East Line; walk 25 minutes|
|Visitor Information||24/7 free|
|Time Required||One Hour|
|Location||Chino, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||35° 59' 24.14" N, 138° 8' 10.61" E|
|Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|
|Added to Jcastle|