Nijo Castle (Tochigi)
Fujita Nobuyoshi was formerly a vassal of Uesugi Kagekatsu, but was expelled by Naoe Kanetsugu because of his close relationship with Tokugawa Ieyasu and fled to Edo. After the Battle of Sekigahara, Tokugawa Hidetada awarded him lands and established the Nishikata domain. Fujita built this new Nijo Castle near the Nishikata Castle remains. Fujita was later demoted for his failures during the Summer Campaigns in Osaka in 1615. The Nishikata Domain was abolished and the castle was abandoned, coming to a quick end.
The castle was also known as Nishikata Jin'ya. Some descriptions say that even before Fujita established this castle for the Nishikata Domain that Nijo Castle existed as a satellite fortification of Nishikata Castle. The name Nijo Castle (二条城), likely comes from the original name of Niijo Castle (新城) aka, "New Castle", but over time the long "i" was shortened and morphed into the same name as the more famous (Nijo Castle) due to to the similarity in name.
First of all, this site is severely overgrown. Even in winter the weeds were over my head in some areas but it was still a fascinating castle to visit. As you climb through the weeds you can find some very large trenches. The structure is basically one big main bailey with high steep sides and then some smaller side baileys and trenches around the base. The main bailey is pretty obvious once you see it but there is no trail going to the top. I just picked a spot that looked relatively easy and scaled the side with my trekking pole and gloves. The main bailey is amazing. It's quite large and encircled by a mostly in tact embankment. The original embankment was also fortified with stone walls which have mostly crumbled by now but you can still find some places with nice stonework remaining.
Secondly, this castle is moderately difficult to find, but hopefully my description and photos (see those at the end and the map locations) will help future explorers. If you visit Nijo Castle, it is likely to be as a side trip from Nishikata Castle. On Google Maps it looks like you should be able to get there from Nishikata Castle through the woods, but I could find no such comments on other blogs and when I was at Nishikata Castle, I couldn't be sure where to go to possibly reach Nijo Castle. Regardless, it may have been too overgrown or treacherous to get to anyway. You need to return to the main road (with the bus stop) from Nishikata Castle, go a few blocks south (~10 mins) until you find a sign for Kaizan Fudoson (開山不動尊) and just follow this sign to the temple. Off to the side of the temple you'll see a trench with a little white wooden sign for 二条城 (Nijo-jo) this is the entrance to the castle. See photos below.
Once I got back to the station, I ran into a fellow castle explorer who asked where I disappeared to after Nishikata Castle (he saw me at both Manago Castle and Nishikata Castle). Apparently he could not find Nijo-jo. Also, when I posted my photos to Twitter I got other people asking for directions too so it's understandably difficult to find. Part of the problem comes from the tunnel under the highway which looks like it's closed off, but there are some cinder blocks there for you to climb over the fence (at least I think that's what they're for). There were several wild boar traps on the other side so I assume the fence is just to keep the animals out of town.
I have seen some recent Twitter posts that they've significantly cleaned up the site recently so I would really like to go again before it's weeded over.
|English Name||Nijo Castle (Tochigi)|
|Alternate Names||Nishikata Jin'ya, Nii-jo|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Features||trenches, stone walls|
|Access||Tobu Kanasaki Sta (Tobu Nikko Line), 30 mins walk|
|Visitor Information||mountain, open 24/7|
|Time Required||60 mins|
|Location||Tochigi, Tochigi Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 28' 16.68" N, 139° 43' 34.90" E|
|Visits||March 17, 2019|
|Added to Jcastle||2020|