Ganryakuji Castle

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It is thought that Ganraykujijō was first built in the 1440s (and before 1446 when it is recorded a garrison of fifty soldiers were stationed there) by Sekiguchi Mitsuoki, or his younger brother, Sekiguchi Naoyuki, who acted as castellan. The Sekiguchi were vassals under the Imagawa Clan. Matsudaira Nobumitsu captured Ganrakujijō in or before 1457, and his son, Nagasawa Chikanori, acted as castellan of the fort, rebuilding it. The Imagawa Clan took over the fort and rebuilt it following the death of Matsudaira Kiyoyasu in 1535. Following the death of Imagawa Yoshimoto at the Battle of Okehazama in 1560, Imagawa Ujimasa refortified Ganraykujijō, with Kasuya Zenbē and Ohara Tōjūrō commanding the defending garrison. It is recorded that Matsudaira Ietsugu, under the orders of Matsudaira Motoyasu (Tokugawa Ieyasu), reconquered the castle in 1561. Thereafter the fort served as a border castle between Matsudaira and Imagawa territory.

Two themes run through the murky history of Ganrakujijō. One is the contesting of the territory of Nagasawa and the repeated switch in control of the castle between the Matsudaira and Imagawa clans. Another is the confusion between Ganrakujijō, which is a yamajiro, with another castle, Nagasawajō, a flatland castle in the valley below. Both castles are associated with the Nagasawa Clan, causing confusion as to which fortification is being referred to in historical sources. For example, it is recorded that Toyotomi Hideyoshi entered Nagasawa in 1586, but it is not known which castle he used. In fact, Nagasawajō and Ganryakujijō likely formed a jōkan system wherein the flatland Nagasawajō was used as a kyokan, residential and administrative area in peacetime, whilst Ganryakujijō was used as a fortified redoubt in times of active conflict. Both fortifications together then were referred to as Nagasawajō. It is presumed that if Ganraykujijō was still in use by 1590, then it was abandoned following the relocation of Tokugawa Ieyasu to Kantō.

Visit Notes

Ganryakujijō is a yamajiro (mountaintop castle) site in the Nagasawa Township of Toyokawa Municipality. I had a rip-roaring romp about here and I’d highly recommend it to yamajiro fans. Of course, no buildings remain, but this castle ruin is a tour de force of earthworks and mountain-sculpting. Features include horikiri (trenches), tatebori (climbing moats), kuruwa (baileys), lots of dorui (earthen ramparts), and wells.

The shukuruwa (main bailey) is a well-developed square in shape, surrounded by dorui on three sides. The southeast corner is particularly bulky and probably hosted a tower. The northwestern rampart corner has the remains of two wells. This scenery is impressive. Of course, having access to water during a siege is crucial to survival, so the presence of many deep wells is arguably the castle’s most formidable feature.

The shukuruwa is impressive, but I went there last, slowly circumlocating around and up to it as I tramped through the many baileys. Ganryakujijō has several spurs of fortifications which follow ridges in the north and northeast. It takes a while to inspect these and come back up, but they contain trenches and dorui, so it’s worth it.

See also the historically related site of Nagasawa Castle.

  • Main Bailey Dorui

Castle Profile
English Name Ganryakuji Castle
Japanese Name 岩略寺城
Alternate Names Nagasawajō
Founder Sekiguchi Naoyuki; Nagasawa Chikanori
Year Founded 1440s; 1457
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Local Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Dorui, Kuruwa, Wells, Karabori, Horikiri, &c
Features trenches
Visitor Information
Access Meiden-Nagasawa Station on the Meitetsu-Nagoya Line; 5 minute walk to trailhead in north
Visitor Information 24/7; Free; Mountain
Time Required 100 minutes
Location Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 51' 56.12" N, 137° 17' 12.95" E
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Added to Jcastle 2023
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
Friends of JCastle
Jōkaku Hōrōki
Umoreta Kojō
Shiseki Yawa

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