Toishi Castle is constructed on a ridge extending out from Mt. Higashitaroyama. It's one vast compound castle, made of four small castles called Komeyama-jo, Toishi-jo, Hon-jo and Masugata-jo concentrated around the main Hon-jo area. Even though they're often called four castles you could also think of them like 4 baileys at other castles.
The early history of Toishi Castle is not clear. It's attributed to either the Murakami or Sanada, but most likely the Murakami. Around 1468 Murakami Masakiyo made incursions into the Chiisagata area (modern day Ueda) and likely built out the mountaintop fortification here. If you were to visit the area you would see that the Taroyama mountains dominate the horizon around Ueda. This ridge was is an ideal location that splits the modern day Ueda Station and Ueda Castle area from the Sanada area claimed as the home of the Sanada clan. Around 1532-1555, Murakami Yoshikiyo further built out and renovated much of the castle.
In 1550, Toishi Castle became famous as the biggest loss in Takeda Shingen's career. Earlier in the year, Shingen defeated the Ogasawara (see Hayashikojo Castle) extending his reach into the Shinano region and leaving the Murakami as the last major holdout. Shingen had actually lost another major battle to Murakami, the Battle of Uedahara, 2 years earlier so he was looking to take revenge on Murakami's home fortress with overwhelming might. Shingen attacked Toishi Castle with 7000 soldiers against the castle's 500 defenders. On August 29th, Shingen surrounded the castle and began his attack on September 9th. The steep sides and tenacity of the Murakami defended held off Shingen until September 23rd when a reinforcement army of 4000 suddenly appeared at his back. Murakami had escaped Shingen's blockade and brought his main forces to Shingen's back. Shingen still fought on until October 1st when they withdrew and escaped back to Suwa. Shingen suffered heavy casualties including the loss of one of his generals, Yokota Takatoshi. This battle is often known as Toishi Kuzure (砥石崩れ).
Takeda Shingen commanded Sanada Yukitaka to take the castle in 1551. Yukitaka was able to get someone on the inside to betray Murakami and opened the castle to him. Thereafter the Sanada controlled Toishi Castle where it played an important role in the battles of Ueda Castle.
The castle is well sign posted, well maintained, photogenic and easy to navigate. It is highly recommended for all mountain castle fans, but you should visit between the late fall and early spring before it is overgrown with weeds and foliage.
|English Name||Toishi Castle|
|Alternate Names||Komeyama-jo, Toishi Komeyama-jo, Honjo, Masugata-jo|
|Year Founded||mid 15th C.|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Designations||Prefectural Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Features||trenches, stone walls|
|Access||Ueda Sta. 15 min bus, walk 5 mins|
|Visitor Information||mountain park, open any time|
|Time Required||150 mins|
|Location||Ueda, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 25' 36", 138° 17' 28"|
|Visits||March 31, 2016|
|Added to Jcastle||2016|