Prior to 1552 there was a small fort built here, but it was considered to be part of Takayama Castle’s defenses. Kobayakawa Takakage, Mori Motonari’s third son, was adopted by the Numata faction of the Kobayakawa Clan. He reunited the two factions of the split Kobayakawa Clan (Numata and Takehara factions) by marrying a daughter of the Takehara faction. In 1552, Takakage decided to build and relocate to a new mountaintop castle directly opposite his current castle, Takayama Castle, on the other side of the Numata River. The new castle, Niitakayama Castle, is located on a 197m mountain with very steep cliffs on its eastern and southeastern sides. It is an extensive castle complex, stretching 400 metres from east to west and 500 metres north to south.
With the need to control the waterways of the Japan Inland Sea, a new castle, Mihara Castle was built in 1567 at the mouth of the Numata River. Gradually, Mihara Castle superseded Niitakayama Castle as Kobayakawa’s main castle in the area as their naval strength grew. Takakage took part in the Hideyoshi’s First Korean Invasion and was largely responsible for a major Japanese victory in the Battle of Pyokje in 1593. Afterwards, he retired from active service and returned to Mihara Castle. With no sons, Takakage adopted Hideyoshi’s nephew, Hideaki. Kobayakawa Hideaki went on to play a major role in the Battle of Sekigahara by switching sides in the middle of this epic battle. Niitakayama Castle was eventually decommissioned in 1596, the year before Takakage’s death. Some of the stones and other building materials were taken from Niitakayama Castle and used in the construction of Mihara Castle.
It takes around 25 minutes walk from JR Hongo Station to get to the trailhead. This castle ruin is massive, on a similar scale to a castle site like Rokkaku’s Kannoniji Castle Ruin in Shiga. My wife and I spent over 3 hours on site, and we did not get to all the 60 baileys scattered over this mountain because the sun was starting to set, so it was time to get off the mountain. A castle fan can easily spend half a day at this castle ruin checking out all the baileys, stone wall ruins, wells, gate ruins, and earthworks. The mountain looks steep as you approach it, but the trail up and down is fairly easy.
Profile and photos by JCastle user RaymondW
|English Name||Niitakayama Castle|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Designations||Next 100 Castles, Top 100 Mountaintop Castles, National Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Features||trenches, stone walls|
|Access||Hongo Sta.(San'yo Line), 25 min walk|
|Visitor Information||mountain hiking trails open any time.|
|Time Required||180 mins|
|Location||Mihara, Hiroshima Prefecture|
|Coordinates||34° 25' 11", 132° 58' 33"|
|Added to Jcastle||2014|