Okamoto Mototsuna, a vassal of the Utsunomiya, built Manago Castle around 1504-1521 as a border castle to help defend Utsunomiya lands from the Minagawa. It worked in coordination with the much larger Nishikata Castle nearby. In 1523, in a battle between the Utsunomiya and Minagawa, the Minagawa took the advantage with enforcements from their allies the Yuki and Koyama. Okamoto surrendered Manago Castle and became vassals of the Minagawa. The Okamaoto remained as castellans of Manago Castle, which was now the most forward base along the border with the Utsunomiya. The Minagawa sided with the Hojo in the Siege on Odawara, Hideyoshi's campaign against the Hojo. Okamoto died of illness around this time and the castle was abandoned after the Hojo surrendered.
There is a community bus (Manago Line) that goes through Tochigi Station, Shin Tochigi Station, and Tobu Kanasaki Station, that stops at the Manago Chuzaisho Minami (真名子駐在所南) bus stop which is about 450m from the trailhead (small cemetery at the end of the ridge). Along the roadside there is a large sign and map. From here the castle is easy to find, just climb the trail. There are only 8 busses per day so you need to plan carefully. The nearest train station you could walk to is Tobu Kanasaki, about a 90 min walk. It would be possible to take the bus to Manago Castle, walk about an hour to Nishikata Castle and then walk the last 30 mins to Tobu Kanasaki Station. This was basically the route I took, but I added in Nijo Castle (Tochigi) after Nishikata Castle.
The castle itself is an interesting site. Hiking up the trail, there are some smaller baileys and horikiri. The main baileys around the top offer some interesting earthworks and nice views of the area. The north ridge drops steeply from the bailey and there are 2 horikiri you can see but much of the north/northeast castle ruins were absorbed by the golf course. If you go down this way you'll have to come back. The west side longer ridge has a trail marked on the map but I could not find the trail nor a sign pointing to it from the top. The slope was heavily overgrown and steep and slippery in the early morning. I tried to travel down some but decided to give up and move on to Nishikata Castle. It might be easier to go around the side of the mountain and try to find the trail going up rather than going down.
|English Name||Manago Castle|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Access||Tochigi Station ; 50 mins bus (Fureai Bus Manago Line) + 10 mins walk|
|Visitor Information||mountain park, open 24/7|
|Time Required||75 mins|
|Location||Tochigi, Tochigi Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 28' 23.95" N, 139° 42' 31.43" E|
|Visits||March 17, 2019|
|Added to Jcastle||2020|