Shibutami Castle (Azumi)

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Shibutamijō was built by the Shibutami Clan. Nishina Morinaga founded the Shibutami Clan. He fought with Nishina Morimasa at Kawanakajima in 1561. He lived with his son, Shibutami Masanaga, at the Shibutami Yakata, beneath the castle mount. Shibutami Morishige, another Nishina vassal, also acted as castellan at Shibutamijō. Later, under the Ogasawarta resurgency, Shibutami Morinaka is recorded as the castle's lord, and as possessing 350 kan of territory - or about 700 koku, with 13 knights under him. In 1613, Ogasawara Hidemasa became lord of Matsumoto Castle (Matsumoto-han was valued at 80,000 koku), and at that time the Shibutami Clan served as his retainers.

Visit Notes

Shibutamijō, or as I shall call it: Castle of the Hanging Caterpillars, is a medieval earthworks castle ruin located on a mountain ridge above Ikeda in Shinano. Features include dorui (earthen ramparts), horikiri (trenches) and kuruwa (baileys). I chose the wrong path to hike up and ended up coming to a place below the ridge I wanted to be on. I couldn't be bothered back-tracking so I clambered up the steep side of the ridge, suddenly coming upon the castle ruin. The layout is made up of a central bailey with trenches to the front and rear (should I say bow and stern for a 丸?). The rear trench is particularly deep and dorui is piled up at the rear of the shukuruwa (main bailey) from its excavation. This deep trench protects the fort's mountainside flank. It is now full of large fallen trees. From the main bailey I noticed a depression in the middle of the ramparts. I don't know but maybe this was the gated entrance to the bailey. The approach to the fort is terraced with bands of minor baileys.

I continued climbing beyong the main bailey because there were two markers for the site. Hōrōki's marker was accurate, and the Google marker was wrong (of course). However, I noticed that the ridge line became very narrow after the main bailey, meaning that it would be easy to defend the rear. I came to a place near the Google co-ords where there was a natural plateau, though the further end of it had collapsed. Beneath here was a pond noisy with amphibious choir. Luckily I found a path by the pond that led to another site, Takenoirijō (Azumi Tanoiri Castle), so I didn't have to go back down the mountainside. I shall call Shibutamijō "the Castle of Hanging Caterpillars" because they were hanging down from the treetops everywhere on little silken strands, and at one point I found five of them clinging to my jacket. One landed on my neck and it was cool and squishy. They were assaulting me like paratroopers. Because of the early rainy season nature was already out in force at the ruins of Shibutamijō!

  • Large trench to rear of main bailey

Castle Profile
English Name Shibutami Castle (Azumi)
Japanese Name 安曇渋田見城
Founder Nishina Morinaga; Shibutami Clan
Year Founded Sengoku Period
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Koguchi, Dorui, Horikiri, Koshikuruwa
Features trenches
Visitor Information
Access Aźumi-Oiwake Station on the Ôito Line; 35 minute walk to Aźumino-Ikeda Craft Park; 15 minute hike
Visitor Information Free; 24/7; Mountain
Time Required 40 minutes
Location Ikeda, Nagano Prefecture
Coordinates 36° 23' 6.86" N, 137° 54' 3.38" E
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Added to Jcastle 2021
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
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