Mariko Castle

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It's not known exactly when the castle was built but it was around at least during the time of the Imagawa, and possibly earlier as it sits at an important point to watch over the Tokaido Road. Historical records of Mariko Castle dry up until it appears in 1568 when Takeda Shingen stationed troops here to secure the province of Suruga. In 1581, Mariko Castle was surrendered to the forces of Tokugawa Ieyasu in his attacks on Takatenjin Castle. Tokugawa maintained the castle until he moved to Edo and it was abandoned. Mariko Castle is considered to be a very intelligently designed castle utilizing all the best defensive structures available to mountaintop castles of this time. The site today is heavily wooded and no doubt much eroded over the last 400 years but you can still see many of those structures today and there are signs (in Japanese) pointing out many of them.

The picture above is what is known as a kuichigai guchi. The two moats are offset so that the route between them is like an S shape.

Visit Notes

Mariko-juku was a well known post town at this point of the old Tokaido Road. Today, there is a bit of a touristy crafts center here and behind it is the start of the trail up to the castle.

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  • Outside bailey, soto kuruwa
  • Part of the trail to the top
  • land bridge
  • Ote Bailey
  • vertical moats, tatebori
  • North Bailey
  • arthen embankment
  • dry moat cut vertically along the side
  • Empty moat around the HOnmaru bailey
  • Honmaru Bailey
  • One entrance to the Honmaru bailey
  • view from the trail
  • Map

Castle Profile
English Name Mariko Castle
Japanese Name 丸子城
Founder Imagawa clan
Year Founded 1394-1428
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Top 100 Mountaintop Castles
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features trenches
Visitor Information
Access Shizuoka Sta. (Tokaido main line), bus 20 mins, walk 10 min
Visitor Information
Time Required
Location Shizuoka, Shizuoka Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 57' 3.71" N, 138° 19' 41.27" E
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Added to Jcastle 2011
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 2011
Admin Visits June 3, 2011

(2 votes)
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127 months ago
Score 0++
Eric, the JCastle site administer, is absolutely spot on about how Mariko Castle utilized the latest military know-how in castle design when it was significantly modified by the Takeda Clan in the Sengoku Period. If you are looking for stone walls, watchtowers, and castle keeps, then this wouldn’t be a fun castle site for you to visit. However, for those castle fans interested in tracking the evolution of Japanese castles from its smaller earthen and wooden mountaintop castles to the massive stone behemoths like Himeji Castle and Osaka Castle, then Mariko Castle Ruin is a fabulous one to visit. Located on a small mountain about 140m above sea level, it is a formidably constructed castle in its day designed to maximize its defenders’ firepower. On it northern approach, are two sets of parallel earthen ramparts and moats while on the western side, there are three sets of parallel earthen ramparts and moats. All the earthen ramparts on both the western and northern sides were built successively higher and overlook the previous set. In effect, this is like the concentric sets of curtain walls found surrounding medieval European castles, where archers from both the lower and higher curtain walls can pour fire into the attackers. Roughly located in the middle of the second earthen rampart is a protruding semi-circular strongpoint, giving the defenders a 180 degree firing angle, allowing them to pour enfilading fire on attackers trying to scale the middle earthen rampart. This strongpoint functions very much like a mural tower on European castles’ curtain walls. In Japanese, it is called a “堡塁” (Hourui). On the eastern and southern sectors of the castle, a series of vertical moats were carved into the steep mountainside to limit attackers’ movement and channel them into kill zones. Two sets of terraced baileys running down from the eastern and southeastern of the main bailey allows the defenders pour fire on attackers from three directions if the southeastern corner of the castle complex is attacked. The southwestern sector of the castle is protected by two circular barbican-like baileys located below the main bailey, and they are nearly encircled by a mixture of horizontal and vertical ditches including one massive vertical moat extending over 100 metres down the mountain. This castle dates from as early as the Namboku Period (13th Century), but mostly what visitors can see nowadays of the castle ruin are the improvements made to the castle after the Takeda Clan took over in 1568. There are only earthen ramparts, earthen bridges between baileys, and moats left. All the wooden structures are long gone. Access to Mariko Castle is fairly easy. It is around a 20-minute bus ride from Shizuoka Station. From the bus stop, it is about a seven minute walk to the trailhead. It took my wife and me around 2.5 hours to do this site as we were scrambling around the mountainside sussing out most of its defensive features. Going by the JCastle rating scale for castle sites, this castle ruin probably deserves only a one-star rating, but for me, Mariko Castle Ruin is certainly worth two stars because of its intelligent design with defensive features that I rarely see at other yamajiros. Also, it is better signposted than most mountaintop castle ruins that I have been to.