Goryu Castle was built in Nanbokucho Period (1334) when the Shishido clan were moved here from the Kanto region (Hitachi, Ibaraki). While Goryu castle was being built they had a temporary castle just across the valley at Yanaga Castle as seen in the X picture below. Goryu Castle was gradually expanded over the years into the vast mountain fortress you see today.
At first the Shishido opposed the Mori, but they became allied in the Sengoku Period when Shishido Takayoshi married Mori Motonari's daughter. The Shishido became a key member of the Mori's clan and moved with the Choshu. The castle was abandoned at this time.
This one was on my original Hiroshima plan for several years ago when I visited Koriyama Castle, but it was temporarily off limits due to downed trees, some washed out areas and unstable ground following a large typhoon. When I got the chance to go back to Hiroshima recently I made it a top priority to visit. It exceeded my expectations and I'm glad I had another chance to go. In hindsight, it probably would have been impossible to do this castle justice along with Koriyama Castle in one day anyway.
The castle itself was the home castle of the Shishido clan, a top retainer of the Mori from nearby Koriyama Castle. It is in a great location where a spear of land sticks out into the plain. The castle starts at the point of the spear and follows the narrow ridge to the top of the mountain. Japanese sources split it into 3 sections, but I will call it two. The first section is quite easy. Leveled areas rise in steps along the ridge until the main bailey (honmaru). There are a few side baileys and stonework and broken or loose stones scattered throughout the site. The trail is fairly good and there are signs labeling each bailey. Most of the sign posts are rotten and the signs have fallen over so those you see standing here I actually stood up against a tree for the photos.
On the far end of the honmaru is a huge dorui (earthen embankment) with a small stone retaining wall at the base. Beyond this bailey is one of the biggest horikiri I've ever seen. I question if you can call it a horikiri at all. They just carved off the side of a natural valley between two peaks to make it even more steep. From here there are no signs nor trails. Most visitors stop here and go back, but I knew from maps there was more to see.
Here starts the second part of the castle. I tried three different paths to get down this horikiri, including doubling back and trying to get across it at the same elevation as other baileys. The most reasonable route was to angle diagonally down the side slowly. The bottom of this horikiri was so muddy my boots kept getting stuck and the only good way through was to try to walk on fallen trees and branches. Thank goodness for good hiking boots or I may have lost them! The other side of the horikiri was not much better. It's obvious that you need to go up to the top of the ridge but it seemed too slippery and steep to walk up so I tried to angle around the hillside staying at roughly the same elevation. I knew there were some more stepped baileys around the side that I might be able to use to get up more easily. Around the bottom of this huge trench are some possibly flattened areas and tatebori running down the hillside. After 2 or 3 more false starts (slippery muddy areas) I found a passable trail around the side (possibly a game trail, it was covered with many hoof prints from deer or boar) which indeed took me to the baileys I hoped to find. These started quite nicely and only got better as I scaled the mountainside. There were bits of stonework around the entrances to some of the baileys and once you got into them the ground was comparatively easier to navigate. Climbing through 3 or 4 of these smaller baileys landed me near the top of the ridge where there are three long baileys to the top of the mountain. The furthest has another big earthen embankment which drops down an even bigger cliff like horikiri. I did not attempt to scale down into this since it is the end of the castle anyway.
On the way back I took the steep ridge straight down into the horikiri where I started. Surprisingly this ridge did not look as bad from the top and I really did not want to double back the long way around again! It was better than expected and along the way was a double horikiri which only seems to be marked as a single horikiri on maps, so this was an exciting discovery. By this time, I had already spent 4 hours on site and once I scaled the big horikiri back to the honmaru it was a quick walk back down to the trailhead.
The first part of the castle alone could be highly recommended for any mountain castle fans, but the second section beyond the honmaru is for serious enthusiasts only. I had mud caked shoes and pants, and scrapes and bruises to show for my efforts! The fact that it rained for 2 days before I visited probably did not help.
|English Name||Goryu Castle|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Designations||Prefectural Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Features||trenches, stone walls|
|Access||Komachi Sta. (Geibi Line), 10 min walk|
|Visitor Information||mountain, open 24/7|
|Time Required||90-180 mins|
|Location||Akitakata, Hiroshima Prefecture|
|Coordinates||34° 41' 50.68" N, 132° 45' 10.30" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2023|
|Admin Year Visited||2023|
|Admin Visits||Feb 24, 2023|
|Friends of JCastle|
|Japan Castle Explorer|