Sawayama Castle




Sawayama Castle was originally established as a small fort of the Sasaki in the early Kamakura Period by Sabo Tokitsuna, the sixth son of Sasaki Sadatsuna. It's strategic location controlling traffic between Kyoto and the eastern provinces would make it the pivot point of many historical events.

The Sasaki clan split into the Kyogoku and Rokkaku factions with Sawayama Castle being a border castle of the Rokkaku. When the strength of the Rokkaku waned, the Azai took control of the castle. The Azai became at odds with Oda Nobunaga who was securing the Owari and Mino regions. In 1570, after the Battle of Anegawa, Nobunaga attacked and captured Sawayama Castle.

Nobunaga stationed one of his important commanders, Nagahide Niwa, in command of Sawayama Castle and frequented it himself as Azuchi castle was being completed. After the death of Nobunaga Ishida Mitsunari was appointed commander of Sawayama Castle in 1590. Mitsunari renovated the castle into a modern fortification including a large main keep (tenshu). After the Battle of Sekigahara, the castle was abandoned when plans for Hikone Castle were made. It is said that Tokugawa Ieyasu had such dislike for Mitsunari that he completely demolished all remnants of the stone walls atop the mountain and even removed the topsoil to the complete the destruction of his foe's famous castle.

Visit Notes

Thanks to Tokugawa's destruction of the castle after the Battle of Sekigahara, there is not much left to see. There are a couple trenches and if you follow the trail down into the Taiko Kuruwa, you can see some nice remaining earthen embankments around the bailey. Around the Honmaru, there are 2 places where there should be a few stones from the original stone walls, but I could only find one. The second was recently uncovered and may have been weeded over again when I visited. The best reason to visit Sawayama Castle is for the great views of Hikone Castle.

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Castle Profile
English Name Sawayama Castle
Japanese Name 佐和山城
Founder Sabo Tokitsuna
Year Founded 1190-1198
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features trenches
Visitor Information
Access Hikone Sta. (Biwako Line); 20 mins walk
Visitor Information open 24/7
Time Required 120 mins
Location Hikone, Shiga Prefecture
Coordinates 35° 16' 47.24" N, 136° 16' 9.59" E
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Year Visited 2019
Contributor Eric
Visits March , 2019
Added to Jcastle 2020
Friends of JCastle
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