Said to have been built by the Kurashina clan, the actual date of construction and history are mostly unknown. The Kurashina may have been an offshoot of the Murakami, but little is known of them. When the Murakami fled Takeda Shingen in 1553, it is said that the Kurashina fled to Azumino (near Matsumoto) while the Murakami fled to Echigo (Niigata). The role of Washio Castle is unknown after this point but it was likely used by Takeda Shingen to fortify the entranceway to the large Zenkoji Plain. The Seino clan who originally fled with the Murakami to Echigo returned in 1559 and joined with the Takeda. It is thought they were given control of Washio Castle sometime around 1570. The castle was likely abandoned in 1598 when Uesugi kagekatsu moved to Aizu and the Seino joined them.
Sanada Nobuyuki's second daughter had a residence at the foot of this mountain too. Today there is a small garden and shrine where it once stood. A bit farther up the mountain was also a small temple that destroyed in a rainstorm in 1742. Given the steepness of the slope, I'm not surprised.
This is a fantastic little castle. The initial climb is rather steep but not so long and suddenly you arrive at the main bailey with a 3m high stone wall. Despite the many castles around Nagano with early period stonework, this is one of the highest walls. The castle extends along the ridge with several well defined baileys and horikiri. I biked from Matsushiro Castle but the best route is probably to go from Yashiro Station. You can also take a bus from Yashiro Station to Matsushiro Castle and watch for a good place to get off somewhat nearer to Washio Castle and walk the rest of the way too but the route and where to get off are not clear.
|English Name||Washio Castle|
|Year Founded||Sengoku Period|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Features||trenches, stone walls|
|Access||Yashiro Sta., walk|
|Time Required||140 mins|
|Location||Chikuma, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 32' 11", 138° 9' 43"|
|Visits||December 3, 2016|
|Added to Jcastle||2017|