Shigiyama Castle

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It's not known exactly when a castle was first built on this location, but early fortifications may have been here as far back as the 12th Century. The first records of a castle date to 1459 when they show that the Naganuma had built an impressive mountaintop castle. The Naganuma were one of the the four main power in the Aizu area including Ashina, Yamanouchi and Kawarada. The Naganuma fought many times with the Ashina but eventually became retainers of Date Masamuna when he took over Aizu in 1589. Naganuma then helped Date vanquish their other rivals the Kawarada. The Naganuma followed the Date when they left the Aizu area in 1590 and turned over control of Shigiyama Castle to Gamo Ujisato. In 1598, Shigiyama Castle came under the control of Uesugi Kagekatsu who stationed Naoe Kanetsugu's younger brother Ohkuni Saneyori as lord of the castle. After the Battle of Sekigahara, the Uesugi moved to Yonezawa and the Gamo once gaian became lords of Shigiyama Castle. Shigiyama castle was abandoned under the one castle per country law of 1627.

Visit Notes

This castle is not easy to get to from Tokyo. It takes a good 3-4 hours, but you can enjoy the nice scenery along the way. You can catch an express train to the Nikko area but then it's all local trains. It would be easier if you came down from Aizu Wakamatsu. I wanted to visit this one because it looks interesting but is not well known. There are several moats, including a double moat, and several baileys that are well mapped out. There is an old public offices building from 1885 built in a Western style that is designated an important cultural property for Fukushima Prefecture. There is a little bit about the castle but it's mostly about the late 19th century government affairs. It's a nice little place to visit while you are in town. Be sure to visit the tourist information center at the castle to get some good maps and brochures before you start walking.

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  • Daimon Stone Walls
  • Outer moat
  • Otemichi
  • Area of samurai homes
  • area of samurai homes
  • dry moat
  • main gate and dry moat
  • Area beyond the main gate for government offices
  • Dry moat and earthen bridge
  • stone walls of the main gate
  • steep side of the mountain
  • Ochayaba Bailey
  • Stone wall of the Mondo Bailey
  • Mondo Bailey
  • View from the Atago Shrine
  • Extension of the Ochayaba Bailey
  • North Mondo Bailey
  • East dry moat
  • East dry moat
  • small shrine along the eastern moat
  • Uwasenjo bailey
  • Uwasenjo
  • Shimosenjo
  • Western dry moat
  • Western dry moat
  • former masugata gate
  • western dry moat
  • Map

Castle Profile
English Name Shigiyama Castle
Japanese Name 鴫山城
Founder Naganuma Munemasa
Year Founded 14th C. (?)
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Prefectural Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features trenches, stone walls
Visitor Information
Access Aizu Tajima Sta (Aizu Railway); 10 min walk to the entrance; 60 mins to the top of the mountain
Visitor Information Mountain hike, so the trail is always open. Approximately a 40 min walk from the base to the top of the mountain.
Time Required 2.5 hours
Location Minami Aizu, Fukushima Prefecture
Coordinates 37° 11' 53.38" N, 139° 46' 13.87" E
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Added to Jcastle 2012
Admin Year Visited 2012
Admin Visits April 30, 2012

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90 months ago
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The most obvious remains of Shigiyama Castle are the two ishigaki gate supports which stand either side of the entrance to the castle. To the left (entering) of the gate ruin there is a trench and to the right an elevated enclosure reached by stone steps. This was my first time exploring a castle site completely covered in snow. The snow actually helped define the earthworks at the site by putting a gentle white blanket over all of the flora. I tried to photograph these earthworks and baileys: it’s never as clear in only two dimensions but you can make them out. I also took pictures of the snowy mountain and forest surrounding the castle.


Shigiyamajō was first built by clan Naganuma who had pushed northward from their ancestral home in Tochigi in the 14th century. In 1560 the Naganuma became vassals of clan Ashina who controlled the Aizu area. Under the Ashina the Naganuma became de-facto leaders of south Aizu and expanded the castle town around Shigiyamajō. In 1589 the Ashina were defeated by Date Masamune and the Naganuma came under their hegemony. In 1591 the Date were transferred to Sendai by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, ruler of Japan, to curtail their power.

Gamo Ujisato took over Aizu and Shigiyamajō became a satellite castle of Tsurugajō. The Aizu area is divided by a multitude of mountains and when Gamo took over it was full of dissatisfied retainers. To retain control Gamo modernised all branch castles of Tsurugajō, including Shigiyamajō, and the gate walls you see now date to this time. The chief function of these ishigaki, however, considering that they stand without any other stone walls connecting them, was to support an impressive gate, rather than to be a key defensive component.

In 1595 Gamo died of age and Hideyoshi put Uesugi Kagekatsu (adopted son of Uesugi Kenshin) in charge of Aizu, in turn Kagekatsu appointed Ōkami Saneyori as castellan of Shigiyamajō. Kagekatsu’s appointment was a Toyotomi move to isolate Tokugawa Ieyasu from his allies. With Hideyoshi’s death from illness in 1598, Ieyasu attacked the Uesugi clan (in the name of the Toyotomi ostensibly). Aizu was fortified as part of the wider conflict which culminated in the Battle of Sekigahara. After Tokugawa’s victory the Uesugi were moved to Yonezawa and the Gamo reinstated in Aizu.