18 New Castle Profiles from ART

From Jcastle.info
Revision as of 18:12, 23 September 2021 by Eric (talk | contribs) (Undo revision 48777 by Eric (talk))
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)

18 New Castle Profiles from ART


ART has been busy contributing dozens of new castle profiles. This first set is focused on Kanto.

If you haven't seen his Japanese Castles Facebook page, check it out as well. All these photos and more have been posted there at some point or will be soon.


Egawa Fort / 江川砦

EgawaToride (4).JPG

Egawa-toride is opposite Nirayamajō, across the resevoir (former swamp). The fort is now the site of a small thatched-roof shrine. It features a very large horikiri. The site can presumably be accessed via the path which leads to the shrine, but I just climbed up the hill directly, as it was near a park with blossoms we stopped at. After exploring these ruins I came crashing down and out of a bamboo grove, appearing like a wild mountain man (yamabito) to my friend and surprised onlookers. I felt like the Hibagon ("Japanese Bigfoot"). This was all thoroughly enjoyable. Novice castle explorers can enjoy Nirayamajō, but the surrounding forts should be left to the pros - or fools like me.
Hakota Castle (Kozuke) / 上野箱田城


I came here to Hakotajō hunting mogi! Unfortunately this castle-inspired structure only partially resembles a castle tower. It's a hotel called Tenshukaku no Yado (Castle Tower Inn). As for the real castle, ruins nonetheless remain. Dorui (earthen ramparts), gate ruins, karabori (dry moats) and obikuruwa (belt baileys) can be seen. It's always nice to see some traces of the real castles that give rise to these strange modern interpretations of medieval castles.
Hojo Clan Residence / 円成寺北条氏邸


We came here to the site of this former Hōjō Clan Residence because it is registered as a national historic site but there's not much to see other than fields. These fields were excavated during the 1990s. Excavations were ended in 2007 and the site was backfilled with sand pending a review of how to continue with exploration. There is an information board at the site. I found some of the lower slopes of Mount Moriyama had been terraced, so perhaps these areas were once part of the temple or the palace and attached fortifications.
Horigoe Palace / 堀越御所


We came here to this former palace site because it is registered as a national historic site but there's not much to see other than fields and some information boards. The site is also referred to as Kubō-tei (公方邸).
Izumigashira Castle / 泉頭城

Izumigashirajou (2).JPG

The site of Izumigashirajō is famous as a park with natural springs (the castle's name means 'Spring Head Castle'). It is said that Tokugawa Ieyasu temporarily had a residence here, but he decided to permanently retire at Sunpujō instead. The castle's ruins are not easy to identify, especially so because the fortification anyway made extensive use of natural terrain, using creeks as trenches. It was dusk when we visited and the bats were out, and I spent most of the dwindling daylight trying to take nice pictures of the springs which can be seen beneath the lake's surface bubbling away in pits of gravel and mud. The waters are blue-ish green and fat fish were feeding from moss on rocks surrounding the springs. I saw at least three springs at two sites. The park has a shopping area with historically attuned structures, and a trendy café sells coffee with boiled water from the springs. The park was awash with early blossoms when we visited. There's not much of the castle's ruins to see, which is probably for the best considering we visited late in the day, but if you're in Mishima then this is a lovely park to visit. It is part of a UNESCO-listed Geo-park.
Ken Castle (Kozuke) / 上野剣城


When this little blip popped up on my castle radar what attracted me to it was the name, Kenjō, or "Sword Castle". Maybe this seems like a good name for a castle, but it's a little odd. For a start, single character names of castles are not so common (an exception would be Oshijō (忍城)), and one would assume that it should be read as Tsurugijō, which would sound better (kun'yomi and on'yomi go together more readily if the latter is a suffix). Well, anyway, the site is fields and housing developments next to a railway line. There is nothing to see of the castle except a crude wooden post with the castle's enigmatic name written on it - as well as what looks like a botched attempt at a double swirl pattern. So, it was amusing to stop by here at dusk - as you can see I used flash photography - at the end of the day, but I wouldn't recommend coming here. Now, apparently they've done some archaeological work here. There's some treasure associated with the site, a type of gong which was unearthed here, and which is now kept at a nearby temple and designated as important cultural property. We couldn't see that but it's probably infinitely more interesting than the castle site itself.
Kunou Castle / 久能城

Kunoujou (1).JPG

Kunōjō is now the site of the Kunōza-tōshōgū. It is the resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, and was the first such Tōshōgū shrine (or temple, arguably) built - before Nikkō-tōshōgū. The mount was fortified in the Sengoku Period and retained by Ieyasu in the Edo Period as a branch fortification of his retirement home at Sunpujō. The shrine boasts ishigaki, and the oldest of the ishigaki is at the top where the Hōtō (宝塔) marks the Shōgun's grave. Some of this was being repaired during our visit. This ishigaki dates to around the shrine's establishment when the site still functioned as a fort. The ishigaki was the most interesting thing about visiting the shrine for me, but the beautiful architecture of the shrine's structures is also worth visiting for. We took the ropeway to the shrine DOWN from Nihondaira where there is a carpark. It is easier to go this way than to walk up the mountain from the shore.
Moriyama Castle (Izu) / 伊豆守山城


Some earthwork ruins remain, chiefly trenches, terracing and perhaps small baileys. At one place a bridge spans a dry moat, but I did not find this. At the summit there is a look-out which gives views of the surrounding plains, Mount Fuji visible in the background.
Nagaune Fort / 長畝砦


Nagaune-toride is a fort ruin. I found a tall mound of earth but it looked lonely. What happened here? From old satellite images it looks like an interesting site, a smaller scale version of Asabajō with fortifications erected in a square formation on a promontory into the plain. However, relatively recently the site has been turned into allotments and holiday cabins. Except for the one segment of dorui the ruins have been obliterated. The land is also used for pasture and I encountered many sheep here; they came up to a fence and meh'ed at me. From a distance the shape of the ruins is easier to appreciate, and there seems to be a moat ruin where the sheep now roam.
Niiya Castle (Kouzuke) / 上野仁井屋城


Initially I wasn't going to bother with Kōzuke-Niiyajō even though it's quite close to Asabajō, but I had just enough time to come back and visit after visiting other sites in the area which took my fancy. Niiyajō is, like Asabajō, on a frond of high elevation projecting into the plain below, but the site is used as farmland and the earthworks are sadly far too overgrown to even begin to explore. I guessed there may be karabori (dry moat) and dorui (earthen rampart) ruins, but these were too obscurred to positively identify.
Nirayama Daikansho / 韮山代官所

EkawaDaikansho (10).JPG

This is one of the best preserved daikansho sites I've seen, and is an architectural treasure trove. Daikansho were administrative bases, usually lightly fortified, used by hatamoto, retainers and representatives of the Shogunate administering their direct holdings.
Niwaya Castle (Kozuke) / 上野庭谷城


Niwayajō is a yakata (fortified manor house) ruin. Dorui (earthen ramparts) surround a small enclosure except where there is a steep cliff overlooking a river, about 40m to each side, enclosing a small space. There is a koguchi (entrance) on the southern end of the western ramparts. The site is now a shrine.
Ohdairashin Castle (Izu) / 伊豆大平新城


Ôdairashinjō ('Great Plateau New Castle'), is also called Minamimiyajō ('South Shrine Castle'). It is located above the temple Engyōji, near to the nationally designated historic site of the Kitaema Grottoes. The main bailey is cleared. Sub-baileys form a nice profile when viewed from below and are now the temple's necropolis. If one climbs the mountain up past the Karakasamatsu-tōge ('Paper and Bamboo Umbrella Pine Pass'), then one will come to Ôdairakojō ('Great Plateau Old Castle'), but it was already getting dark when I visited and so I didn't have time for that. As I said, the profile of the ridgeline looks like the castle's footprint likely extended further down into what is now the temple's necropolis, and there is a separate smaller spur of terraced sub-baileys which climb the ridge up from the temple's other side where there is a torii and small shrine.
Shibukawa Yorii Castle / 渋川寄居城


There are two castles called Shibukawa located somewhat close to each other. Shibukawa-Yoriijō is on flat land whilst Shibukawa-Irisawajō is located in foothills. I went only to the site of Shibukawa-Yoriijō, which is now that of a temple and homes. The most obvious sign that there was a castle here is a wide karabori (dry moat) segment. And there is also a literal sign to tell us at the temple. Admin Update (Jan 2022): Added a few photos and GPS coordinates to existing photos.
Tenjin'yama Castle (Musashi) / 武蔵天神山城


I came to Tenjin'yamajō hunting mogi, but the site turned out to be quite interesting besides the abandoned folly, which was well because the faux reconstructed tower was far too dilapitated to safely enter. The trenches at the site were interesting, and, in addition to multiple baileys, I identified dorui (earthen ramparts) and even found a segment of ishigaki (stone-piled ramparts) above a tatebori (climbing moat).
Ueno Castle (Kozuke) / 上野上野城


Since I had cunningly rented a bicycle for free from Jōshū-Fukushima Station, after going to Obata-jin'ya I was poised to visit many sites, and so first I came here, to the ruins of Uenojō. The site is referred to as Uenojō but it was a yakata (fortified manor house). The dorui (earthen ramparts) which remain are impressive, but the site is now someone's homestead and access is restricted. Dorui can be seen from the roadside and stretches for one side of what was once a square layout for about 60m before turning at a right-angled bend around a corner section. There is a break in the dorui which was the site's entrance. What was once a moat is filled in and used as a vegetable patch in front of the dorui.
Warabi Castle (Kozuke) / 上野蕨城


When I was in the area looking for more castle sites to visit, Warabijō site popped up on Google maps and what drew me to it was that it simply was listed as "the ruins of a castle...". This was very mysterious so I decided I'd have to check it out; I only learnt the actual name of the castle later after researching it. The castle site is used for farming in its baileys and most of the ruins are heavily overgrown, so I had some trouble getting around this site, and it involved me climbing up the steep hill using bamboo as ladders. Obikuruwa (ring baileys) go around the site's integral baileys, and in these are dense thickets of bamboo. It seems that a former colony of the fast-growing grass species has died here and so there was dead bamboo all over the place which I had to smash my way through. Karabori are evident between baileys but they were difficult to photograph because of all of the vegetation. Because I worked hard I derived some satisfaction from exploring Warabijō ("Fern Castle", but I didn't see any ferns) but it was a gruelling site to explore. After researching this site online I found that one blogger had made a similar mistake to myself, climbing up steep embankments and through bushes from the south, but there is a dirt track that goes up from the western side, and this should be used. Albeit, it's still not easy to get around the whole site.
Yahatayama Fort / 八幡山砦


Yahatayama-toride is a comely fort ruin very easy to appreciate from below because the trees on the hill, which is about 50m high, have been cleared back. The site is now a park surrounded by vinyards. Ruins include kuruwa (a bailey), dorui (earthen ramparts) and kirigishi (terrain sculpted into steep embankments). The western side faces a natural slope, but the other sides have been cut into formiddable embankments about 6m high. The dorui segments are most prominent at either end of the single main enclosure, which is 60m north to south and 30m east to west. The northern dorui portion may have hosted a yagura (turret). Yahatayama-toride is twinned with Nagaune Fort, located on lower elevation.
Loading map...

Add your comment
Jcastle.info welcomes all comments. If you do not want to be anonymous, register or log in. It is free.