ART Autumn Update Part 3


ART Autumn Update Part 3: Tokyo and Aichi


This is the third and last part (for now) updating ART's recent contributions to focusing on Tokyo and Aichi. I'm really pleased to see Furumiya Castle make its debut on Jcastle. This is a site I've really wanted to visit, but it is not so easy to get to.

If you haven't seen ART's Facebook Japanese Castle Group yet I highly encourage you to do so. There are contributions from a variety of members, discussion and news about castle developments and discoveries.

I'm still working on lots more updates myself. As always, follow me on Instagram or Facebook (links in the footer) for the latest updates.


Akasaka Jin'ya / 赤坂陣屋

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Akasaka-jin’ya is a jin’ya site in Akasaka Township, Toyokawa Municipality. The site is now a nursery and no ruins remain on-site. Although I did also check out a gate which is said to be a structure relocated from the jin’ya; it is the sanmon (main gate) of Hōunji, a temple located some distance to the southwest. The sanmon’s structure does indeed look quite old. Asakaka-juku is an old post town on the Tōkaidō. The most notable surviving structure from the Edo period is (unfortunately not the jin’ya but) an inn called the Ohhashi Inn. It appears to be open to the public but it was already past closing time when I came by. A large signboard opposite the honjin (main inn) site shows a map of the shukuba as it existed in the Edo period, and the jin’ya and its layout is shown on it.
Furumiya Castle / 古宮城

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Furumiyajō, a hilltop earthworks fort ruin in Tsukude Village, Shinshiro Municipality, was the highlight of my tour of castle ruins in the valley. It seems to have drawn the attention of castle-enthusiasts in recent years, and with good reason. It is a vast complex of impressive earthworks, featuring dorui (earthen ramparts), dobashi (earthen bridges), masugata (square gate complex), kuruwa (baileys), karabori (dry moats), tatedorui (climbing dorui), and more. The structure is highly advanced – in my estimation at least, and I could see the evolution from medieval into the vast Edo period castles taking shape before me.

As far as earthworks castle ruins go without buildings, this is a top site. The only downside is that the whole hilltop is covered in a cedar plantation. The monocultural forest makes lighting gloomy, and obstructs what would otherwise be a flawless view of vast medieval fortification earthworks. In person it’s easy to see around and between the many trees, but it’s tough to take panoramic photographs. There is clearly a lot of interest in this site, and I wish the trees would be cut down. Once a hilltop is removed of trees it takes more maintenance to keep back the bush, but I think an unfettered castlescape here would really put it and Tsukude on the map. Tsukude in general has done a wonderful job of promoting its historic fortification sites, and so if this one were cleared and maintained like Kameyamajō, it’d be even more amazing – perfect – and I’d go back in a jiffy. Kameyamajō seems to be prized as the village’s main castle ruin, but I was more impressed by Furumiyajō. Going by reviews on Google Maps and castle blogs, I’m not alone in this.

The layout of Furumiyajō is vast and complex, or seems vast due to its complexity, and I was surprised to read after wandering around the site that the dimensions are only 200m east-west by 150m north-south. The hilltop is cleft in twain by the ôhorikiri (great trench). These two halves, west and east, are connected by a dobashi and their layout is different. The western portion consists of a bailey perfectly ensconced with beautiful dorui. Beneath this hilltop bailey is row after row of trenches and embankments encircling the hillside. At the deepest place there are five layers of these defences. In parts the dorui and karabori fork off, creating a complicated array of ramparts and dead-ends. The two largest karabori are at the top and bottom, and in the middle the topmost sits above the bottommost, divided by towering earthen embankments. The topmost karabori is ‘U’-shaped, curving around the central bailey of the western castle. The bottommost karabori stretches around much of the bottom of the western castle. It is eventually enveloped by a northern extension of the middle great trench. The outermost moats of the castle are swamp moats and are difficult to enter.

The eastern castle is defended at its lower reaches by moats both dry and boggy. Terracing climbs the hillside and lower baileys are divided by half-man-height dorui (likely for water level control). One of the terraced baileys had a sign indicating it was used as a prison. One of the most interesting features of the eastern castle is that it has radiating spokes of tatedorui, climbing earthen ramparts, which reminded me of an earthworks version of flying buttresses of some great cathedral of earth. The eastern main bailey, the centre of the whole castle, is heavily fortified with tall dorui and a masugata gate complex. It is not difficult to see in the mind’s eye here yaguramon (gatehouses) and yagura (keeps) which would not look less than fitting for an Edo period castle. One of the rampart segments overlooking the gatehouse courtyard now hosts a huge zelkova tree.

I wish I had more time at this site, appreciating it from all angles as I ferret my way through every trench and atop every rampart. I had to be a bit more selective on this my first visit as I only had a couple of hours, but I think it could take many hours to exhaust. I would happily go back, dedicating more time to the easternmost and outermost ruins.
Hajikamigou Castle / 薑郷城

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Hajikamigōjō is a minor castle site on private property. Some castle-bloggers report dorui (earthen rampart) remains, but I couldn’t find anything solid by just going around the block. The site is now an old home surrounded by parcels of land which have been sold off and developed, including by a block of flats.
Hinohara Castle / 檜原城

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Hinoharajō is a yamajiro (mountaintop castle) in Hinohara Municipality, Tōkyō Metropolis. It features earthworks such as kuruwa (baileys), tatebori (climbing trenches), horikiri (trenches), and dorui (earthen ramparts). A long, steep hairpin trail leads to the castle site from Kichijōji, a temple at the castle mount which formerly constituted the castle’s kyokan (living halls). To the right of this trail is a long, deep tatebori which goes from the temple all the way up the mountainside. This is an impressive earthwork. Another impressive feature is the complex of three horikiri in a row to the rear of the site.
Hourinji Yakata / 法林寺館

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Hōrinji-yakata is a fortified manor hall site in the Ogawa neighbourhood of Akiruno Municipality, Tōkyō Metropolis. The yakata site is now a temple, Hōrinji, and a small park. To the northeast of the temple is a long segment of dorui (earthen rampart) with many bends. The earthwork is thick and still tall, up to 2m high. Despite the berm’s height – especially if it was initially taller – there is no moat beneath the berm – on either side – and so perhaps it was filled in at some point. Given that the temple which is the site’s namesake is located on the river terrace, it is likely that a fortified space was enclosed where the temple sits today.
Ishibashi Castle / 石橋城

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Ishibashijō, an earthworks fort ruins, is now the site of a local temple, but it retains castle features to the rear, including dorui (earthen ramparts) and hori (moats). I was surprised to see how tall the rear dorui was. The front of the site just looks like a temple, albeit with a very steep slope which looks suspiciously like a fort’s steep embankments, a feature called kirigishi. The dorui includes a corner segment and part of the ramparts disappear behind the temple’s main hall. There was an opening cut into the rear of the bulwark so I looked beyond here. It was a bit overgrown but I could see moats, now a morass. Due to the overgrown moats and temple we do not have free reign as castle-explorers here, but it makes for a nice casual visit alongside more impressive sites in the area.
Ishida Castle (Mikawa) / 三河石田城

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Ishidajō is surrounded by some yashiki sites. I was going to ignore these, but, passing by one on the way to the castle proper, I saw dorui (earthen ramparts) and a narrow karabori surrounding one of the yashiki sites – now a farmstead. Another pleasant surprise. This was the fortified residence of the Wakabayashi family. That encouraged me to check another yashiki site very close to Ishidajō after visiting the castle proper. This, the Takeshita residence site, also appeared to have some ruins.
Ishida Jin'ya / 石田陣屋

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Nothing remains of Ishida-jin’ya, a small jin’ya site in Ishida village, Shinshiro Municipality, and the site is now homes and fields. Some stone walls are built around a rural homestead, likely piled with stones from the riverbed of the Toyokawa, but they likely don’t date to the Edo period. The site sits on a terrace, and I tried to photograph its steep embankments from below, though the place was overgrown.
Kameyama Castle (Mikawa) / 三河亀山城

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Kameyamajō is a hilltop fort ruin in Tsukude Village, Shinshiro Municipality. Features include dorui (earthen ramparts), kuruwa (baileys), karabori (dry moats) and other earthworks. Of all of the fort sites in Tsukude, this one seems to be considered the main one, and is also called Tsukudekojō (‘Tsukude Old Castle’) or simply Tsukudejō. The site is well maintained as a park and traditional festivities are held here. With two carparks the site is easy to access and sits above the Tsukude Tezukuri-mura which offers, as per the name (it’s a pun on the village’s name), handicrafts and homemade food, including from a very popular meat vendor.

Kameyamajō’s layout is very satisfying. It is concentric with a spacious main bailey on top. The main bailey is ensconced by tall dorui. Below is a deep karabori on the sides, with more baileys fore and aft. The second bailey, also surrounded by dorui, has an impressive angled gate complex. The southern karabori is embossed with outer dorui and small baileys, most prominently the eastern bailey and southern bailey. The eastern bailey also retains dorui, but the southern bailey is narrow and just looks like a big embankment flattened on top. To the west is a koshikuruwa (hip-bailey) with trenches on both sides, but these were both a bit overgrown so I didn’t thoroughly explore that side of the castle. There is a western bailey which forms a series of terraces on the approach to the main bailey. The western bailey has forward-facing dorui. It has a koshikuruwa below.

See also: Kawajiri Castle
Kawajiri Castle / 川尻城

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Kawajirijō is a hilltop fort ruin in Tsukude Village, Shinshiro Municipality. Features include dorui (earthen ramparts), kuruwa (baileys) and trenches. There is also a (speculatively) reconstructed kabukimon (a type of gateway without doors) and what looks to be babōsaku, a latticework palisade. The site has previously been maintained as part of a park, but it was a little neglected in parts when I visited. Kawajirijō has an irregular concentric layout with a large main bailey surrounded below by terracing of the hillside to form a sub-bailey. A kabukimon and palings are found in the lower ring bailey. The main bailey is partially ensconced by dorui. It is quite spacious and, curiously, there is a hillock, perhaps representing the peak of the natural hill, now used as a religious space with several altars and a memorial stele for the war dead. My impression was that there used to be a temple in the bailey at some point. There is also what I took for a lower bailey, used as an orchid, with what look like dorui lining one side. A holler runs below, cutting off the hill from more elevation beyond; I only guess but perhaps there was a trench cutting here.
Makino Castle (Mikawa) / 三河牧野城

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Makinojō is a flatland earthworks fortification site in the periurban Makino neighbourhood of Toyokawa Municipality. The ruins consist of a stretch, including a corner segment, of dorui (earthen ramparts), and what looks to be the remains of a bailey. Unfortunately, when I visited, the site was terribly overgrown with tall grasses and I couldn’t reach the ramparts! I only made it as far as the explanation board by the road which has some information and a map.
Mikawa Kou Jin'ya / 三河国府陣屋

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Kō-jin’ya is a jin’ya site(s) in the Kō Township of Toyokawa Municpality. There are two sites, in fact. I visited the later, longer-lasting site connected to Iwaki-Taira Domain (where, incidentally, I used to live (well, now it’s a municipality rather than a fiefdom)). The other, earlier, shorter-lasting site is also known as Tanuma-jin’ya after its lords and I didn’t go there. The site of the latter Kō-jin’ya is now temples, fields and housing. No ruins remain on site. However, at a nearby temple, Chōsenji, there is a genkan (entrance parlour) said to have been relocated from the jin’ya. Naturally my focus was on the temple with the extant genkan. It’s an elaborately decorated structure and the temple itself is also very fetching. Regrettably I could not find much information on the genkan.
Monjuyama Castle / 文殊山城

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Monjuyamajō is a yamajiro (mountaintop) castle site in Tsukude Village, Shinshiro Municipality. It has a reconstructed miyagura (watchtower) and a hammock, which are both highly appreciated. Although some parts have fallen down, there is also a loosely arranged palisade or babōsaku (cheval de frise) around parts of the ramparts. Other features include earthworks, such as dorui (earthen ramparts) and dry moats. The circular layout is essentially comprised of a large single bailey complex with a koshikuruwa (sub-bailey) wrapping around the central bailey below.

An octogenarian in the castle carpark gave me a pamphlet about castle ruins in the village. He said he was the lord of the castle. By which I took it to mean that he was the descendant of a castellan. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it’s nice of him to share his castle with everyone.

See also: Furumiya Castle, Kameyama Castle (Mikawa), Sainokami Castle
Ninomiya Castle (Musashi) / 武蔵二ノ宮城

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Ninomiyajō is now the site of Ninomiya, a shrine which sits on a small hill in Akiruno Municipality of Tōkyō Metropolis, and no fortification ruins remain. The explanatory board at the shrine mentions the castle. There is also a small museum on site but it was closed when I visited.
Nirengi Castle / 二連木城

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Nirengijō is an earthworks castle ruin in Toyohashi City. The site is maintained as a park next to an old folks’ home. The site is fairly well preserved and is quite interesting in that there are also trenches beneath the earthen on the ramparts on the inside of the bailey – rather than just on the outside as with most moats.
Ogawa Castle (Musashi) / 武蔵小川城


Ogawajō, also referred to as Hōseiji-yakata, is a fortified manor hall site in Akiruno Municipality, Tōkyō Metropolis. The site of the yakata is now a temple, Hōseiji, and no ruins remain, though the temple sits on a rather defendable looking perch on a river terrace. Some ruins remained of the castle up until modern times, it seems, but a moat which was used for illegal rubbish tipping has subsequently been buried.
Sainokami Castle / 塞ノ神城

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Sainokamijō is a mountaintop fort ruin in Tsukude Village, Shinshiro Municipality. Features include dorui (earthen ramparts), horikiri (trenches), kuruwa (baileys) and other earthworks. The central bailey is almost wholly surrounded by tall dorui. It has a formidable front gate and rear gate. There are at least two sub-baileys to the rear, the upper most of which is ensconced by half-man-height dorui. A segment of this dorui climbs to connect with the main bailey above. At the bottom of the terracing is a horikiri. To the front of the fort is a demaru (detached / projecting bailey), separated only a little from the central bailey, and this has a notable horikiri in front. There are earthworks also between the main and projecting bailey, including dorui and what might be the remnant of a gate complex.

Some visitors to this lesser appreciated of the Tsukude sites come via Monjuyama above, but the relative height is not so much so I just clambered up the mountain directly, going from the bottom of the road which leads to Monjuyama Castle.

See also: Yonefukuchousha Yashiki, Furumiya Castle, Monjuyama Castle, Kameyama Castle (Mikawa)
Shinshiroko Castle / 新城古城

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Shinshirokojō means ‘New Castle Old Castle’, making it one of the more identity-confused castles out there. The site today, located in the village of Ishida in Shinshiro Municipality, is fields on a river terrace. Modern housing encroaches. Some dorui (earthen ramparts) can still be found, though it’s not certain how long they’ll last. There is a small marker post for the castle. I followed a holler to the back of some fields. The site was quite overgrown. Whilst trying to get closer to what I took for dorui, I was surprised by my first encounter with the ‘Blue General’, aodaishō, Japan’s large species of snake. The animal grows up to two metres in length, and, as I could judge, this particular Japanese rat snake was close to being full sized. Although the snake is pretty harmless, its size and bluish glint can give one quite the shock. I whooped like a chimp as we put distance between each other. And then hollered one more time for good measure as the beast slithered out of sight. There wasn’t much to see of castle ruins but I got to add another creature to my list of sightings; gotta catch ‘em all!
Takeshita Noritsune Yashiki / 竹下範経屋敷

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The Noritsune-yashiki is a medieval residence site just north of Ishida Castle. Based on the terrain and remains in the vicinity – and this is just speculation – but the yashiki may have been converted into a satellite fortification of Ishida Castle from 1590. Or the yashiki was located elsewhere on the plain and I stumbled upon some outer ruins of Ishidajō whilst searching for it! I have not found a reliable source pinpointing exactly where this site was meant to be, but I checked out the site indicated on a map I did have, and, this took me to a site on the ridge. Admittedly this site couldn’t’ve have accommodated anything but a small residence, but it looked like a fortification site (some yashiki were also built on elevation). The ridge was flattened and the edges were heaped up as with dorui. Below the ridge there are rice paddies; if this terrain was a bog or rice swamps before too then it would’ve formed a natural moat for the fortified ridge above. Whether a satellite fort of Ishida Castle or the yashiki site, I found something so I’m happy about that.
Tobuki Castle / 戸吹城

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Tobukijō, ‘Tōkyō’s Most Dangerous Castle’, is a yamajiro (mountaintop castle) fortification ruin in two parts, or one and a half parts. The site straddles the municipal border between Hachiōji and Akiruno municipalities within the Tōkyō Metropolis. The municipal border follows a mountain ridge which is used as a hiking trail. To the south of the ridge there are a series of terraces with earthworks such as terraced baileys and dorui (earthen ramparts), which appear to protect the ridgeline which runs parallel. Beyond the ridge is a long trench and dorui segment, again running parallel. Beyond here is where things get dicey.

I will join the chorus of bloggers proclaiming the dangers of this site, and offer a warning to any explorers who, happily following the pleasant trail along the ridge, think to casually wonder off to explore this site (Yogo, a blogger I follow, says it’s not a castle worth dying for, though I like that because it implies that there might be castles which would be). In the north, a thin slip of a path running from the trail can be found. This goes to the main enclosures of the fort, but there’s not much left as the structure of the fort has been severely eaten into by landslides.

There are two integral baileys, and in between the first and second is evidence of earthworks such as a trench and dorui. It seems that collapses have effaced every single side of the castle, leaving behind a fragile and spindly husk of a yamajiro. Indeed, there’s not much to see considering the risk one takes in walking the very narrow path with sheer drops on each side to reach it!

I braved the path. I didn’t think it was likely that I would lose my footing, but one should be careful. Besides, I don’t even know if the path is still as I found it, as it may have collapsed further, making this site truly inaccessible (the terrain is made up of sheer cliffs in the north); anyone coming to explore this site should do so in the expectation that they may have to turn back. For this reason, Tobukijō has been called Tōkyō’s most dangerous castle ruin.
Toyokawa Castle / 豊川城


I wanted to go to Toyokawa to visit two religious sites, and the site of Toyokawajō was near the first of them. The first sacred site is Myōgonji, more popularly known as the Toyokawa-Inari, where one can pray to a host of deities. It is a special and rare temple where one can experience Japan’s traditional religion of Kami-Buddha syncretism.
Wakabayashi Yashiki / 若林屋敷

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Wakabayashi-yashiki is a fortified residence site close to Ishida Castle. It is thought to predate the castle, however. Today it is a rural homestead, but dorui (earthen ramparts) and a narrow karabori (dry moat) remain on the western side. At the edge of the dorui is a hōkyōintō (宝篋印塔) stone pagoda.
Yonefukuchousha Yashiki / 米福長者屋敷

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I was going to ignore this fortified residence site in Tsukude Village, Shinshiro Municipality, but then I saw a map and information about it in the village museum. The explanation mentioned ‘dorui-ato’. Dorui is earthen ramparts but ‘ato’ may mean ‘ruins’, or it may simply mean ‘former of site of’ with nothing to see. I looked at a satellite image, compared it to a diagram showing the yashiki’s layout overlaid on a modern map, and noticed a tuft of green alongside a house. That, I said, was the dorui. I located this dorui and took a picture then. It looks like it could be dorui! So that was nice. There are other traces of the yashiki here and there, but I was running out of time so I checked out just this chunk of dorui.
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