Nakano Castle (Kai)

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KaiNakanojou (6).JPG

History

Nakanojō has the appearance of a hastily constructed Sengoku period fort which could accommodate a fair number of troops whilst a granting province-spanning view of Kai’s central basin. Various legends are associated with the site, but we know that it was likely a fort controlled by the Akiyama Clan, a clan descended from the Kai-Genji. The castle’s founder is said to be Shinra Tanehisa; Shinra is the Japanese reading for the Korean state of Silla, but it is not known really who this Shinra Tanehisa was. Akiyama Mitsuaki, believed to have been the lord of the castle, was married to a daughter of Taira Shigemori, and, as a result, he was persecuted by the Kai-Genji who besieged Nakanojō at the start of the Kamakura period in 1185. Akiyama Mitsuaki is said to have committed suicide at Amanarijō, a branch fortification of Nakanojō. After this the castle’s history is not well known, but it was likely used as a watchtower and garrison fort during the Sengoku period.

See also: Amanari Castle


Visit Notes

Nakanojō is a yamajiro (mountaintop castle) ruin in South Alps Municipality, Yamanashi prefecture. It is an earthworks fortification, featuring baileys and dorui (earthen ramparts), deep in the mountains. The main bailey is ringed by an obikuruwa (belt bailey), and this lower terrace is surrounded by dorui. Access to the bailey is granted via the koguchi (‘tiger maw’), a former gate site between dorui.

Much of the rest of the castle precincts, which extended to the north, have been eroded or completely lost to landslides. These movements of earth have left terrifying drops which eat into the mountaintop. One can follow the ridge to the north to the northern bailey area, which is very deformed, though artificial terracing is in evidence. The ridge between the north and southern areas has a look-out point about half-way with fantastic views of the basin and Fujiyama. The ridge itself was perhaps used as a defensive bulwark at some point, but if there was a castle bailey to the east then it has been lost to landslides.

To reach Nakanojō one must either drive or commit to a half-day of hiking. If driving, then the trail entrance can be found at the municipal border (Minami-Alps and Fujikawa Township) which runs through the mountain road to the northwest of the ruins. There is a space at the side of the road here for one or maybe two vehicles to park, and there is a signboard with an explanation about the castle. The trail starts here. Actually, during my visit, cleared snow had been piled up here which blocked the trail entrance! The snow along the trail maybe slowed the ascent, but it should only take about 30 minutes from this point to reach the castle site. The snow was somewhat deep in places but was icy enough to walk on with, whilst compressing it, not being swamped in it; there were no footprints that weren’t animalian, and one set of tracks – perhaps a tanuki – went much of the length of the trail, so I presume the critter was also visiting the castle.

Note: there are at least ten provinces with a ‘Nakanojō’, according to Wikipedia, which has a page dedicated to a list of them, but, though I wouldn’t presume that this is the only one in Kai Province, it is the most well-known one here, and many castling bloggers cover it (in Japanese, of course).




Gallery
  • Gate Site / Koguchi, with earthen ramparts shown left and right


Castle Profile
English Name Nakano Castle (Kai)
Japanese Name 甲斐中野城
Founder Shinra Tanehisa; Akiyama Mitsuaki
Year Founded Heian Period
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Dorui, Koguchi, Kuruwa, Obikuruwa
Features
Visitor Information
Access Hike from Amanari Forest Park (trail closed in winter); hike for 80 minutes; or, 30 minute hike from Sakura-ike; the trail starts at the bend where the municipal border runs; there is a signboard and parking space nearby.
Visitor Information 24/7 free; mountain
Time Required 60 minutes
Location Minami-Alps, Yamanashi Prefecture
Coordinates 35° 35' 31.56" N, 138° 24' 58.57" E
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Admin
Added to Jcastle 2023
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
Friends of JCastle
Yogo
Jōkaku Hōrōki
Kojō Seisuiki
Shiro Meguri
Shirobito
Shirotabi


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