Haibara Castle

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Haibara Castle was built by the Haibara clan, retainers of the Ogasawara clan. It fell to Takeda Shingen at the same time as nearby Hayashiohjo Castle, Yamabe Castle and Kirihara Castle. After the death of Takeda Katsuyori, Ogasawara Sadayoshi returned to Matsumoto and renovated Haibara Castle. The ruins we see today are from this time period.

Visit Notes

The entrance to the castle is well signposted from the Rengeji Temple, but once you pass the gate in the fence there are very few signs except for a few telling you things you could figure out by yourself like 堀切. I would have appreciated some maps or trail signs more. In fact, you really should get a map from the book 長野の山城ベスト50 or 信濃の山城と館. The castle ruins are not well signposted and the trails are easy to lose. I got quite lost and shot well past the castle ruins once too.

After you pass the fence (intended to keep wild animals out), take an immediate left and go up the mountain. There is another path that looks like it goes straight out in front of the gate up the valley, but it disappears so I had to double back. A sign here would have been nice !! So, follow the ridge for a bit and you’ll start seeing castle remnants. Haibara Castle has few stone walls but it has some of the most huge, complex and simply amazing trenches and earthworks of any castle I've seen. The photos really don't do them justice, especially if you think that they have naturally filled in up to 2 meters over the last 400 years.

Since I stayed the night in Matsumoto, I took a taxi in the early morning (2700 yen) to the Rengeji Temple and took my bike with. I actually started this hike before 7am and was back down and on my bike on the way to the Hayashi castles about 10am. The route to Hayashiko Castle is mostly downhill so it was a fun and easy ride. 


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  • Stone walls of the second bailey.
  • Entrance to the hiking trail.
  • Location of a samurai residence
  • Horikiri trench
  • Terraced baileys
  • Small bailey
  • Small bailey
  • Small entrance
  • Trail
  • Vertical trench
  • Trench around one of the baileys
  • Large bailey and trench
  • Large trenches
  • Vertical trench
  • Large trenches
  • Large trenches
  • Vertical trench
  • Horikiri trench
  • Vertical trench
  • Vertical trenches
  • Trenches
  • Baileys and trenches
  • Vertical trench
  • Main bailey
  • Vertical moat
  • Small bailey
  • Stone walls of the second bailey
  • Second bailey and stone wall remains
  • Vertical trench
  • Stone walls of the second bailey
  • Stone walls of the second bailey
  • Stone walls of the second bailey
  • Stone walls of the second bailey.
  • Stone walls of the second bailey.
  • Entrance to the second bailey
  • Side of the bailey.
  • Small bailey

Castle Profile
English Name Haibara Castle
Japanese Name 埴原城
Founder Haibara clan
Year Founded 1583
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Prefectural Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features trenches, stone walls
Visitor Information
Access Matsumoto Sta. (Shinonoi Line), 2700 yen taxi; or Hirata Sta. (Shinonoi Line) 70 min. walk
Visitor Information Mountain, open any time
Time Required 180 mins
Website http://takara.city.matsumoto.nagano.jp/prefecture/060.html
Location Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture
Coordinates 36° 11' 19.25" N, 138° 0' 55.01" E
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Added to Jcastle 2016
Admin Year Visited 2015
Admin Visits October 31, 2015

(2 votes)
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55 months ago
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I entered the mountain via a trail behind the shrine at the very foot of the ridge that projects out and surrounds Rengeji, a temple from which there is also a hiking trail. From this starting point I climbed the ridge and soon found several trenches crossing it (including a double trench). The path dips into them and continues along the ridge. I came down into a large trench before a series of small, terraced baileys (段郭). I took a lower path from here which wrapped beneath the second bailey grouping and climbed up, visiting all of the integral baileys this way, from the ichinokuruwa to the uranoshukuruwa, behind which is a large drop before the mountain continues sweeping on upwards. To the east and west of the castle are further arms of the castle ruin made up of terracing along the mountain's ridges, although I did not visit these, choosing instead to come down the trial beside the "stairway" baileys and then descend along the trail to Rengeji. This way I saw the terraced slopes which formerly hosted bukeyashiki (samurai homes).

Haibarajō has lots of impressive earthworks and its footprint is quite extensive, spreading across the mountain and its frond-like ridges. There is ishigaki (stone-piled ramparts) around the shukuruwa (lord's bailey). Originally the ishigaki would've went all the way around the enclosure, or at least along the parts over the surrounding koshikuruwa, but now only traces remain in most places, and stone blocks are scattered about in profusion. The ishigaki which remains mostly intact goes off to the right as one approaches the entrance to the bailey. A thin path allows one to wonder along beneath the rampart, coming to a portion where there is a double tier of ishigaki, which is the most impressive part of the ruin in terms of stonework.

At the base of a tatebori (climbing moat) behind the lord's bailey is a well called the "pirncess well". It's a sort of hole in the ground bordered with stones from which water springs, trickling away down the mountainside. Another well used by the castle is located further up the mountain.

Finally I found Rengeji itself to be of interest due to its castle-like stone ramparts and walls with what could be taken for loopholes. The temple also has a nagayamon and shōrōmon. I don't know if the temple existed alongside the castle or not, however.