Matsuida Castle, Isobe Castle, Annaka Castle

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Matsuida Castle, Isobe Castle, Annaka Castle

2018/3/25

This was my first big castle day of the year. Matsuida Castle, in particular, is one that has been on my radar for a long time and it did not disappoint. It's nice to be able to visit 3 closely related castles in one day and show how they're related when writing up the history and profile pages. The Samurai Houses of Annaka also exceeded my expectations and gave me the first new content to add to my Samurai Residences pages too.

Annaka Castle / 安中城

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There is nothing left to see of the castle, but the samurai homes are fantastic. It is worth going out of your way to visit them. In particular, there are only a few examples of an original row house throughout Japan.
Isobe Castle / 磯部城

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The castle is remarkably well preserved. Given the location on a fairly small mountain I wouldn't have been surprised if it had been developed over for some nice housing with a view or other public facility. The main approach to the honmaru is well maintained with signs pointing out the main features, which are mostly small baileys and trenches. What's really interesting about this site is if you try to walk those trenches all around the castle. You can see their size and the layout of the castle much better that way.
Matsuida Castle / 松井田城

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This was a really great site to visit. It's a lot of fun to walk the trails up and down the ridges and there are a lot of very well preserved earthworks. it's a shame my photos don't do the site justice. The highlights include the "S Shaped Trench" and a series of several trenches right after one another on the west side. There are a lot of good signs pointing out various features which is rare for a mountaintop castle, but they're also important because the structure is somewhat difficult to comprehend when you're actually there. There is a volunteer organization that takes good care of the site. The castle is heavily overgrown so you'll want to go in winter or early spring when there's no snow. There are also signs warning of bears so that's another good reason to visit while they're hibernating. There are 2 main routes into the castle. The north side of the mountain ridge has some parking spaces and you can walk up the Main route into the castle. The main entrance has the castle map and it's much easier to understand the castle structure if you start from here. If you're walking from the station though, you should probably take the trail that starts from along the highway. That's only about a 15 min walk form the station and will easily save you 30 minutes walking and a lot of energy.
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