A branch family of the Suwa Clan founded Tokuunji Temple at the foot of the mountain in the Kamakura Period and changed their name to Yamabe. They became the leaders of the town and built the first castle here. The Yamabe Castle we see today is from a later period and has likely undergone several renovations. The first historical mention of Yamabe Castle is 1490 when it was attacked by Ogasawara Nagatomo and came under the territory of the Ogasawara. Orino Masaharu, a branch of the Ogasawara clan came to Yamabe in 1505 and was renamed Yamabe Masaharu. Yamabe Castle was attacked by Takeda Shingen along with Kirihara Castle, Hayashiohjo Castle and other Ogasawara castles in the area in 1550. Yamabe allied with Takeda and became lord of Yamabe and Kirihara castles.
I took a taxi (3000yen) from Matsumoto to Yamabe Castle (Tokuunji Temple). There is a bus that goes to the temple but they are very few and I would have had to wait 90 minutes for the next one. I also had my Brompton bicycle with me. From the Tokuunji Temple I walked up the western slope that starts from the back side of the graveyard (left side of the temple). There are no signs until you get close to the main part of the castle, but the “trail" is not difficult to follow. Along the way, there are several small baileys and trenches that a castle fan should be able to pick out. The stone wall is amazing. It’s definitely the tallest and longest around the Matsumoto area. It’s easy to get around the stone wall and lots of good angles for pictures. Just beyond the main bailey are a series of 4 large trenches and a couple more baileys. On the way down I took the more direct route via a bunch of switchbacks that lands you at the opposite side of the temple. Steeper and less to see, but I think it’s a good quick way down. I would recommend the same course to anyone visiting Yamabe Castle. After Yamabe Castle I cycled to Kirihara Castle.
|English Name||Yamabe Castle|
|Alternate Names||Yanbe-jo, Nakairi-jo|
|Year Founded||late 15th C.|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Designations||Prefectural Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Features||trenches, stone walls|
|Access||Matsumoto Sta. (Shinonoi Line), bus or taxi (3000 yen)|
|Visitor Information||mountain, open any time|
|Time Required||150 mins.|
|Location||Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 13' 19", 138° 3' 8"|
|Visits||October 30, 2015|
|Added to Jcastle||2016|