Hishakuyama Castle, Hikobe Yashiki, Teusuyama Fort

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Hishakuyama Castle, Hikobe Yashiki, Teusuyama Fort

2020/08/31


For this last update of my winter castle travels, I bring you one each of a mountaintop castle, a fortified manor and a fort. This was my last castle adventure of the year in late March jusst before the COVID19 craziness set in to Japan. I've been working from home since April 1 and am more than a little anxious to get back out to visit some new castles! It's a good thing I am finally caught up so I can add new sites more quickly this fall.


Hikobe Yashiki / 彦部屋敷

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Ring the doorbell at the big gate. Private tours are conducted on arrival. The Hikobe family still lives here and Mr. Hikobe (49th generation Hikobe) speaks excellent English so English tours are possible.

The house and gate are National Important Cultural Properties along with 2 storehouses and the winter residence. There are "no photography" signs up and they're a little conservative about you taking many photos on the tour or to let you walk around the grounds on your own.

The mountain behind the Hikobe Yashiki also had a "tsume-no-shiro" or castle to flee too during times of unrest. This castle, called the Teusuyama Fort, does not have much to see. It is just a very overgrown mountaintop and a weedy trail with fallen trees to scramble over to get to the top. As a castle fan though it's nice to visit as part of the residence/fort combination.
Hishakuyama Castle / 柄杓山城

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There are several busses in the area that will take you to the Shiroyama bus Stop ("Joyama" on Google Maps) or Kiryu Joshiko Mae, which is the stop I used on the way back, but it's about a 15 min walk towards the town from the Shiroyama bus stop. You can find more information about the local busses on this site. This page also has a bilingual hiking guide including information about Hishakuyama Castle and the Hikobe Yashiki. Hishakuyama is also a famous location for cherry blossoms.

At the Shiroyama Bus Stop you will find a map to the castle ruins and the route to the top of the mountain is well marked. Unfortunately, once you get to the top, there are few signs pointing out the different features of the castle. I'm glad I did some research before I left. The trenches and horikiri along the main trail are impressive and the honmaru also has a section of yokobori too. Along the trail into the honmaru there is a section that is shored up by stones. These were uncovered during recent repairs activities and it is thought that part of the honmaru may have had stonework to prevent erosion. Along the southeast side of the honmaru you'll also see some loose larger stones taht may have once been part of a stone wall too.

The main trail will take you straight to the Honmaru, but the route into the North Bailey (Kita Kuruwa) is not obvious. I had this illustrated map which shows you how the main trail curves around the outside of the second bailey. To get to the North Bailey you need to climb up into the Second Bailey and follow it to the end. Even though it's a bit difficult to find and traverse I think the string of baileys including the North Bailey that come down from the Second Bailey are possibly just as interesting and really make the trek to Hishakuyama Castle worthwhile.
Teusuyama Fort / 手臼山砦

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It seems that there are a couple of trails to the top of the mountain. The route I took started from the Kamo Shrine. This bilingual guide to hiking trails shows a walking course that includes the Hikobe Yashiki. Pay attention to the signs along the course however, because the route to the fort at the top of the mountain branches from the main trail. Even in March it was still overgrown with trees and shrubs, not to mention a number of fallen trees to climb over/around to get to the top. Regardless, there really isn't anything to see. It would be nice if they trimmed back the trees around the top. I'm sure you would get nice views of the area.
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