Seki Castle (Mino)
Sekijō was constructed in 1528 by Nagai Nagahiro. In 1565, when Nagai Michitoshi, also called Michitoshi Hayato, was lord of the castle, the Nagai formed an alliance with Satō Tadayoshi of Kajitajō and Kishi Nobuchika of Dōhorajō to repel Oda Nobunaga’s invasion of Mino. However, Tadayoshi betrayed the alliance and sided with Nobunaga. Michitoshi then attacked Kajitajō in late August, but was repulsed by Saitō Toshiharu, the adopted son of Tadayoshi who fought for Nobunaga, and retreated back to Sekijō. A few days later Oda-alligned forces surrounded Sekijō with Toshiharu leading the siege. Michitoshi fled, abandoning Sekijō, whereupon it was captured. After the conquest of Mino by Oda Nobunaga, Sekijō was abandoned.
Sekijō is a yamajiro (mountaintop castle) ruin site in the municipality of the same name. There is a large hill right by downtown known as Asakurayama Park. Mino-Sekijō is also known as Asakurayamajō. Seki itself means ‘gate’, and the area has been famous for quality sword production since the Kamakura period.
What attracted me to this site, since I was in the area, is the observation platform in the general shape of a miyagura (watchtower). It is basically a mogi (folly) inspired by a medieval castle’s sentry tower. The actual viewing platform is on top of what would otherwise be a steep roof, but parts of a traditional roof skirt around the edges, including two gables.
The castle ruins are actually located just east of the mogi on the very top of the mountain. The layout of the castle is of a single bailey complex and basic earthworks structure. The castle’s topmost bailey is surrounded by a series of terraced sub-baileys which form a ring (a feature called obikuruwa, ‘belt bailey’), particularly to the northeast, carved from the mountain. These obikuruwa and koshikuruwa (sub-baileys) are very narrow, and the ramparts of earth are steep. Part of the ridges which lead to the summit are also terraced to form earthen bulwarks.
Sekijō also features a tatebori (climbing trench) which streaks down the mountainside. This was constructed to prevent enemies who had breached the lower ring baileys easily looping around to the other side of the castle. Seki Castle is a compact but quite neat castle ruin overall. The main bailey of the castle is now used as a shrine within the forested park, and the views of the town and surrounding plains are good.
|English Name||Seki Castle (Mino)|
|Castle Condition||No main keep but other buildings|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Artifacts||Mogi-Miyagura, Kuruwa, Obikuruwa, Koshikuruwa, &c.|
|Access||Seki Station on the Nagaragawa Railroad; 8 minute walk to the hiking trail at Asakurayama Park carpark.|
|Visitor Information||24/7; Free; Park|
|Time Required||30 minutes|
|Location||Seki, Gifu Prefecture|
|Coordinates||35° 29' 15.76" N, 136° 55' 12.18" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2023|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|
|Friends of JCastle|
|Nippon Shiro Meguri|