ART Update 2022 Part 3

From Jcastle.info

ART Update 2022 Part 3

2022/09/08


Part 3 of ART's updates from the first half of 2022. See the castles and map below for details. If you haven't seen his 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.


 

Aburakawa Nobue Yashiki / 油川信恵屋敷

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The site of Aburakawa-Nobue-yashiki is now that of a small temple called Ryūsenji in the Isawa area of Fuefuki Municipality. The remains of dorui (earthen ramparts) can be seen forming an angular segment adjacent to the temple's cemetery. Furthermore a waterway in the north appears to be the successor of a moat. The ruins have been damaged by flooding of the Fuefuki River in the past and submerged so it's miraculous that any earthworks survive, but luckily the area is otherwise very quiet and rural.
 
Hatta Yashiki / 八田屋敷

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Hatta-yashiki is a fortified residence site with an extant palatial hall, gate house, dorui (earthen ramparts), and traces of moats. The shoin (drawing room) is open to the public, and the residence's grounds are now a park (though its outer environs have been developed over with housing). Of the dorui which surrounds the compound, the northern segment is best preserved.
 
Hayashi Kohee Yashiki / 林小兵衛屋敷

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Hayashi-Kohē-yashiki is now the site of modern housing and the Kumano Shrine. The ruins survived until relatively recently and were depicted on Edo period maps. A trace of a moat could be discerned on the northwest of the old Hayashi residence, but both the core of the residence and this area has now been developed with modern, box-like housing. To the southeast there is an irrigation channel and this represents the sorry remains of a moat. I noticed some earth banked up around the Kumano Shrine (there are about a dozen Kumano shrines throughout the Kai Basin and I came across three that day alone).
 
Hirase Noroshidai / 平瀬烽火台

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Hirase-noroshidai was a fortified beacon ruin with a small main bailey, and some terraced belt baileys ringing it. A koguchi (gate complex) ruin with ishigaki (stone walls) survived, along with a curious ring of stone blocks in the main bailey. As of at least spring this year, the ruins have been heavily damaged by some kind of development. Most of the ruins described above are now indiscernible, but, at least for now, a segment of ishigaki survives. The amount of stones on the mountain is incredible, though it’s hard to say if they were once used to fortify the noroshidai. Many muddy stone blocks are now scattered about the site after being dug up by digging machines. Some of these disturbed rocks have been carelessly dumped beside the fort’s stone walls. It’s a sad sight.
 
Isawa Jin'ya / 石和陣屋

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No ruins remain of Isaw-jin'ya on-site, and the site is now a school, but there is a marker post with an explanation board. The main gate of the jin'ya survives, having been relocated to the Hatta Residence, a prefectural historic site, where it serves as the compound's omotemon (front gate). The jin'ya site is a municipally designated historic site.
 
Itagaki Kanenobu Yashiki / 板垣兼信屋敷

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Nothing remains of this early medieval fortified residence site, Itagaki-Kanenobu-yashiki, which is located adjacent to Kai-Zenkōji. The site is now vineyards, fields, houses and workshops. I viewed the site from above by cycling along the road there. Despite the age of the site archaelogical findings have been unearthed including post holes for structures. There is also a curious mound in one of the fields called Ponpoko-źuka. It is a small kofun (ancient burial mound) and its name derives from a rain-making festival practiced by drum-beating locals up until the Meiji Restoration, though it is not known what relation the kofun had to the festival. After checking out the yashiki site I then visited Kai-Zenkōji.
 
Kai Baba Yashiki / 甲斐馬場屋敷

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There are no remains on-site today of the former residence of the famous Takeda general, Baba Nobuharu, but a marker can be found in front of Hakushū Nursery, next to a small airplane. A relocated gate from the yashiki is located at a nearby temple, Jigenji. I inspected the gate but, though I was drawn by the sound of chanting, refrained from entering the main hall of the temple as a funeral was in process there.
 
Kai Genga Yashiki / 甲斐玄賀屋敷

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Genga-yashiki is now the site of a local temple, Myōfukuji, and a cemetery, and no ruins remain.
 
Kai Henmi Yashiki / 甲斐逸見屋敷

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Unfortunately no ruins remain of Kai-Henmi-yashiki, probably owing to its earlier construction date and redevelopment of the area, and the site is now mixed housing, fields and temples.
 
Kai Ikkui Yashiki / 甲斐飯喰屋敷

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Ikkui-yashiki is a very little known site and does not appear on any castle blogs or lists of yashiki (residence) sites in Yamanashi, which disheartened me at first, though eventually I was able to dig up some information and it's quite interesting. Firstly I confirmed the location of this site by looking at maps of archaelogical findings put out by the prefecture. Ikkui is a neighbourhood in the municipality of Shōwa Municipality (Nakakoma District, formerly the historical Koma County). It is transliterated on Google Maps as "Itsukui" but this appears to be incorrect. Ikkui today is an old rural neighbourhood made up of old homes and allotments. In recent years it has been heavily developed with maisonettes and new housing squeezed in between the old country lanes, and a very large shopping centre constructed nearby (Shōwa's population has continued to increase as a suburb of Kōfu). It's not surprising then that no ruins of the yashiki are reported. My photos show the settlement of Ikkui, including an old gatehouse I found.
 
Kai Imai Yashiki / 甲斐今井屋敷

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No ruins remain of Imai-yashiki, a medieval residence site, and the site is now fields. Apparently up until relatively recently a segment of a moat was preserved but now it's gone, and I noticed there are some suspiciously new looking houses surrounding the site...
 
Kai Kose Yashiki / 甲斐小瀬屋敷

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The site of Kose-yashiki is now fields and no ruins remain. The Gowari River flows by and it is thought this water body was used as a moat for the bukeyashiki. There is also an irrigation channel surrounding the yashiki site which runs in right-angled path between two points along the Gowari, forming a triangle shape. I doubt the residence's footprint was actually triangular, so perhaps the Gowari's course was subsequently straightened at a diagonal intersection through the residence site (or perhaps the irrigation channel is just modern! But castle bloggers mention it so I thought I'd speculate too). The site was subject to repeated flooding in the past.
 
Kai Kouno Yashiki / 甲斐河野屋敷

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There are no remains of the Kōno-yashiki and the site is now orchards, fields and some rustic residences.
 
Kai Koyama Castle / 甲斐小山城

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Koyamajō is a well preserved earthworks fortification site on a cliff terrace overlooking the Kōfu Basin. The site features a central fortified compound surrounded by very tall dorui (earthen ramparts) and commensurately deep karabori (dry moats). I found it interesting that even though the fort overlooked steep elevation the builders did not rely on the cliff for defence, but instead took the effort to build ramparts above the cliff line too. This, in my experience, makes Koyamajō more similar to fortifications in the rest of Kantō than in neighbouring Nagano. The dorui and karabori system forms a square shape, and there is a narrow entrance area to the east (a wider section is open to the south but my assumption was that this had been widened in more recent times). In three of four corners of the dorui is some kind of gazebo, and it is easy to imagine that once turrets stood here. The site is maintained as a park but the ramparts and moats are a bit overgrown, and I'm not sure this rural site gets many casual visitors. Koyamajō had the most impressive fortification ruins of any site I visited on my 'Yamanashi Yashiki Tour' that weekend. The season was in evidence due to the presence of spittlebugs in the grass. In Japanese these spittle-dwelling beetles are called Awafukimushi, reasonably but somehow quaintly translatable as 'bubble-blowing bugs', but called froghoppers in English. I brushed aside some spittle and a fully formed adult beetle with distinctive red portions scurried back into the froth.
 
Kai Nakazawa Yashiki / 甲斐中沢屋敷

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The site of Nakazawa-yashiki is now fields and a park, and dorui (earthen ramparts) can be seen remaining along its northern perimetre. That dorui is now retained with stone walls but the stone walls are not ruins of the residence. There is an irrigation channel on the eastern side which could indicate the site of a moat. It seems that the site remained as an old residence (though I don't know if it belonged to the Nakazawa family) until relatively recently, but now this homestead is gone and an empty plot has been left behind; I could still see some outlets for water and such where the house used to stand. Probably it will be developed over with new, modern housing soon so I'm lucky to have seen what's left of the site before its total obliteration.
 
Kai Nishikawa Yashiki / 甲斐西川屋敷

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Nishikawa-yashiki is a medieval residence site with an old omoya (main residence hall). The omoya dates to the mid' Edo period; its original kayabuki (thatched roof) is now covered with protective copper sheeting. It is built in a vernacular form called Kōshū-style. Storehouses and a gate also remain. Though an important cultural property, it is not open to the public.
 
Kai Obu Yashiki / 甲斐飯富屋敷

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The site of Obu-yashiki is now that of a temple, Jōshōin, and the farmland north of the temple. There are no ruins, the last of them being buried a century ago, and now the area is suburban housing and agri' allotments. I searched for a marker for the site of the moat which is supposed to survive, but I failed (I suspect the site is now redeveloped over with new housing), and instead just visited Jōshōin.
 
Kai Omagari Yashiki / 甲斐小曲屋敷

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The site of Omagari-yashiki apparently contains 'buried cultural properties', which sounds exciting but, of course, they being buried, we can't see any of them. Archaelogical digs were carried out here in 2020 due to the expansion of a motorway interchange, though the construction did not cover the site of Omagari-yashiki, which is now that of a shrine, Omagari-daimyōjin, and surrounding rice paddies.
 
Kamigatou Yashiki / 上河東屋敷

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The site of Kamigatō-yashiki is now that of Kumano Shrine; some very shallow dorui (earthen ramparts) remain immediately north of the shrine hall, appearing to form a corner segment of the ramparts.
 
Kamiiida Jin'ya / 上飯田陣屋

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The site of the Kamiiida-jin'ya is now that of the western branch of Kōfu city hall which is housed in a former elementary school, as well as the site of Anagiridai-jinja (穴切大神社), in the Takara neighbourhood of Kōfu. It was the first stop on my bike ride covering residence sites in the Kai Basin that day, and I ended up visiting eighteen sites. Of Kamiiida-jin'ya, also called Kamiiida-daikansho, no ruins remain.
 
Kanzou Yashiki / 甘草屋敷

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Kanzō-yashiki is the site of a host of Edo period buildings used by the Takano Clan. The site, also and properly called the Takano Residence, is known as Kanzō-yashiki ('Liquorice Mansion') due to it being the production centre of medicine and sweets for the Shogunate and Imperial family; in autumn the residence is strewn with drying persimmons, which also happen to be a major vice of mine. Kanzō-yashiki is an example of a latter day yashiki, and one of several Edo period yashiki I've been to now with most of its original architecture intact. The style of the main residence, which dates to the late Edo period, is called Kōshū style, a vernacular style notable for its multi-tiered central roof section which allows for ventilation and facilitates sericulture. Other Edo period buildings include stables, storehouses, the east gate, a library, and other minor structures. Buildings from the Meiji period include other gates and a special open storage 'shelf' with a roof for drying hanging persimmons. Other structures on the residence grounds include wells, a stone bridge, stone walls and a pond. The residence is registered as a national level important cultural property. Although registered from 1953, the residence did not open to the public until 1993. In 1960 the thatching on the omoya (main residential building) was covered in sheet metal tiling for preservation.
 
Kita Wakamiko Castle / 北若神子城

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Kita-Wakamikojō is located on the plateau to the north of Wakamikojō. The southern tip of this northerly satellite fort is now a solar panel array, and this has inexcusably damaged the castle ruins - specifically a gate ruin with embankments. Solar panels are, however, a vital prop in the pantomime of renewable energy which is artificially extending the burning of fossil fuels (which is why gas and oil companies are funding the show!), so I mustn't complain. As for castle ruins, which aren't renewable, earthworks nonetheless appear to remain at Kita-Wakamikojō, and several lines of defences can be found in the cedar plantation between the solar panels and a complex of tennis courts (which may also have been built over some outer ruins of the castle). There are segments of dorui (earthen ramparts) overlooking the cliff to the west, and what look like the remais of karabori (dry moats), spanning the plateau, but since dorui can also be found without ditches below, some of these moats may have been filled in if / when the land was subsequently cultivated. One gets the impression of a castle here, but its structure never comes sharply into focus due to the advanced degradation of the earthworks. Yogo-sensei says that the site's large foot print and flat profile is very like Hōjō castles elsewhere, but he also speculates that much of this flatness paradoxically owes to later cultivation of the area rather than the Hōjō themselves. Ranmaru-sensei treats the castle as essentially an unfinished castle which Hōjō Ujinao started building before he peaced out with the Tokugawa. It seems there are yet many mysteries to uncover here. The site is no longer maintained and I found no marker for the castle (though there used to be one). There was a car parked at the beginning of the dirt track and it so happened that as I was entering the site another castle fan was leaving. He had a sort of clipboard attached to himself via a lanyard. In exchanging a few words with him about the castle I glanced down and saw that he had a map of the castle on it. Haha, I'm such an amateur!
 
Kyouraishi Yashiki / 教来石屋敷

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There are no remains of the medieval residence, and the site is now a brownfield site and abandoned house. The ishigaki (stone wall) is modern.
 
Kyouraishiminbu Yakata / 教来石民部館

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Kyōraishiminbu-yakata / Kyōraishiminbu-yashiki, also known as the Torihara-yashiki, is a medieval fortified residence site with earthworks ruins such as karabori (dry moats). The site is now a park and fields, but the grass was quite tall when I visited. To the rear of the site is steep terrain, and to the south a karabori cuts into the terrain.
 
Magaribuchi Yashiki / 曲淵屋敷

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The site of Magaribuchi-yashiki is located across the Kamanashi River from Daigahara-juku, an old inn town. There is a marker indicating the yashiki site but no clear ruins remain, and the ground is now part of a sacred grove. Opposite is Seitaiji, the Magaribuchi Clan’s bodaiji (ancestral temple). Turns out this is my 800th contributed castle profile to jcastle!
 
Minami Wakamiko Castle / 南若神子城

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Minami-Wakamikojō is located on the plateau to the south of Wakamikojō. Nothing remains of the castle, and it is now the site of a temple, Hōtokuji. The temple - at first glance - appears to be surrounded by dorui (earthen ramparts), which naturally excited me. But a closer inspection gave me cause for doubt that these were the ruins of a castle. It's hard to quantify exactly what first triggered my suspicions, but something, as they say, was off. I knew it deep in my bones! Anyway, the embankments, which are only on the eastern side, remain from when the area was excavated in 1982 as part of an unauthorised earth-harvesting operation - probably for backfill (Wakamikojō was also heavily damaged by earth extraction in the Meiji period for rebuilding walls after a town fire).
 
Minamoto Yoshikiyo Yakata / 源義清館

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The site of Minamoto-Yoshikiyo-yakata today is now that of the Yoshikiyo-jinja, a shrine dedicated to Minamoto Yoshikiyo, the lord of the former manor. Located nearby is a small tumulus said to be the burial mound of Minamoto Yoshikiyo. In front of the shrine is a small moat-like body of water; it is tempting to imagine this oblong pond as the remnant of the moat of the manor hall. But has the moat really been here for nine hundred years? Perhaps it's a restoration from some time. Castle explorers also fancy the remains of dorui (earthen ramparts) surrounding the shrine. Some resources refer to this site as a 'yashiki' rather than a 'yakata'. Now, there being sometimes very little difference between the two, I've preferenced 'yakata' here out of consideration of the time period and builder. Either is acceptable at any rate in this case. Also this is the second residence site of Minamoto Yoshikiyo I've visited in Kai. The other in the south of the Kai Basin is referred to as Kai Genji Yakata.
 
Mitsui Ukonnojou Yashiki / 三井右近丞屋敷

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Mitsui-Ukonnojō-yashiki is now fields and no ruins remain. Finding this site was difficult but rewarding even though I found literally nothing. Both castle bloggers I was following to guide me erred at some point it seems, and so uncovering this for myself was the gratifying part. Firstly the location provided by the one was incorrect (that blogger hasn't visited the site it seems). That blog gives co-ordinates on a map so it's easy to find sites when the pinpoints are correct. The second blogger, generally more accurate, gives addresses and neat descriptions of where to find things, but provides no map, making things a little trickier. I couldn't follow his directions to a small community centre because it wasn't on Google Maps, but it did come up on Yahoo Maps (proving once again that Yahoo is still relevant in Japan where it retains a non-trivial market share), and so by this way I eventualy was able to find where the picture on Oshiro Tabi Nikki was taken. That website's gentleman blogger says that he was able to confirm from a tangle of overgrowth in a bamboo grove the remains of dorui (earthen ramparts). Probably like me he went in summer during the off-season for mountain castling and was confronted by the same wall of verdant foliage. However, I must report that the flora rises up here not because of any mounds, and the ground is in fact completely flat. When I peeked into the tangled growth I found the "dorui" to be hollow inside! I was looking inside of an old greenhouse (biniiru-hausu). The outer fabric was long gone, leaving a framework of metal rods which had provided a climbing frame for creeping vines and other weeds, with bamboo shooting up between the gaps. So, I could not confirm any dorui; I did not catch any game but sometimes it's about the thrill of the hunt. Thank you to Oshiro Tabi Nikki for the information on this historical site and many others in Yamanashi.
 
Nakamaki Castle / 中牧城

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Nakamakijō, also frequently called Jōkojijō, is an earthworks castle site on sloping terrain. It features kuruwa (baileys), karabori (dry moats), dorui (earthen ramparts), an umadashi (earthworks barbican-like gate complex) and even a tenshudai (platform for a donjon). The site was quite extensive with several baileys. The widest karabori can be found north of the main bailey, which was also at the top and to the rear of the site, Nakamakijō having a ladder-like layout with the most important bailey toward the top, and the second bailey and third bailey below in sequence. The mound of earth in the main bailey with the stele atop is the so-called tenshudai, but it looks rather small for the purpose of hosting a donjon; perhaps it was just a small turret. The tenshudai can be accessed and earthworks seen from the road, but the site is now mostly vineyards and peach orchards.
 
Ochiai Yashiki / 落合屋敷

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Ochiai-yashiki is a fortified residence site in Kudama, a rural neighbourhood of Kōfu Municipality. Although in recent decades the area has become more urbanised, the yashiki (residence) site is still made up of fields, groves and orchards surrounding an old homestead. The site is surrounded by fortifications in the form of mizubori (water moats) in the south and east, and dorui (earthen ramparts), which go around most of the site except in the southeastern corner. The dorui is most visible from the roadside along its northern side, and it is tallest here; access is restricted to the public since the site is private property (of the descendents of the Ochiai Clan one would assume). The entrance to the property is down a narrow lane between modern houses, and here one finds a nagayamon (rowhouse gate), which looks like it could date to the Edo period. A bridge spans a moat before the gatehouse. There are several residence sites called Ochiai in Yamanashi, and two 'Ochiai-yashiki' according to most lists of castle sites in the prefecture (both are in Kōfu). I actually went by the other Ochiai-yashiki, which appears to be the original one of that name, located in Ochiai, a couple of days later, but I decided not to check it out because it seems there are no ruins there. Even though that is the original residence site of the Ochiai Clan, this one has actual remains of fortifications so I give it primacy of place. If I ever visited the other Ochiai-yashiki I'll probably have to list it as 'Ochiai-yashiki (Ochiai)' or something.
 
Ozo Yashiki / 於曾屋敷

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Ozo-yashiki is a fortified residence ruin featuring the remains of a double moat system. The largest ruins are the dorui (earthen ramparts) and karabori (dry moat) system which run around much of the site. These are most prominent to the south and east where the ruins are maintained as a park. However, the site is partially occupied by housing. The earthworks continue in the west but here they are overgrown with trees and bamboo. To the north there can be clearly seen two rows of dorui, and these mounds are the remains of a two layered system of dorui and karabori which went around the whole residence in a square formation. Tall double dorui can be glimpsed through the overgrowth in the northwest, but this section is on private property. Ozo-yashiki is a small but intriguing earthworks ruin near Enzan Station.
 
Renpou Yashiki / 連方屋敷

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Renpō-yashiki is a fortified residence site with dorui (earthen ramparts) and karabori (dry moats) remaining. The main segments of dorui and karabori are maintained as part of a park, forming a large, impressive bulwark in the north and west. Though there are now gaps in the walls, another long segment of dorui is found in the east. The southern ramparts are largely gone except for a couple of clumps here and there. This site has been extensively excavated and is desginated as a prefectural level historic site. Nearby is a temple called Seihakuji which contains buildings dating to the 17th century which are important cultural properties, such as the kuri (temple kitchen), and one national treasure, the butsuden (buddha hall). Renpō-yashiki contains an archaelogical mystery. Remains of the northeast corner of the ramparts, now gone, have not been uncovered. It appears that there was a gap in the ramparts made here at some point but it is not known why. The two main theories are that it was a gate complex, as suggested by an old neighbourhood name, or that it was a kimon'yoke (daemon banishment portal) of some kind. Sometimes the ramparts of castles were indented (toward the bailey) or otherwise deviated from a regular form in their northeastern corners for this spiritual reason (Ueda Castle has a well-known example of this).
 
Sakayori Masamoto Yashiki / 酒依昌元屋敷

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No ruins remain of Sakayori-Masamoto-yashiki, a medieval bukeyashiki (samuria residence), and the site is now that of a temple, Jōshōin, and some fields, houses and workshops. The name of the neighbourhood is Sakaori (酒折), which seems to be a corruption of Sakayori.
 
Sakurai Nobutada Yashiki / 桜井信忠屋敷

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Sakurai-Nobutada-yashiki was a residence site which is now the site of vineyards, temples and cemeteries. No ruins remain. Sakurai is a neighbourhood sitting between Isawa-onsen and downtown Kōfu on a cultivated hillside. The slope beneath Tōzenji is terraced and even has some stone-piled walls, but these do not seem to date to the time of the residence.
 
Shimozone Yashiki / 下曽根屋敷

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Shimozone-yashiki is a fortified residence ruin which is now the site of a temple. Dorui (earthen ramparts) remain around part of the site, including a corner section. There are some old stones at the base of the dorui, and these are thought to have been cenotaphs for the Shimozone Clan. My visit here was largely incidental since I visited the Kai-Chōshiźuka tumuli complex immediately adjacent. These large kofun (ancient burial mounds) are well maintained and represent some of the largest specimens in Kantō.
 
Shinohara Fort / 篠原塁

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Shinohara-toride has ruins of earthworks such as dorui (earthen rampart) and moats, including mizubori (water moats). The mizubori can be found at the back of the shrine to Hachiman. The site is that of an old rural homestead and is not open to the public, but anyone can visit the shrine. From the road moat traces which are now vegetable patches can be seen, as well as dorui, which is tallest to the southeast. The ruins of this site were well hidden but proved worth hunting, as the mizubori was more than I had anticipated.
 
Takeda Kingo Yashiki / 武田金吾屋敷

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Takeda-Kingo-yashiki is now the site of an abandoned temple, Kōfukuji, the main hall of which is falling to pieces; the village of Higashigoyashiki, named for the yashiki; and fields. No ruins remain.
 
Takeda Nobushige Yakata / 武田信重館

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The site of Takeda Nobushige's manor hall is now that of the temple Jōjuin. There are no ruins left of the medieval residence but Takeda Nobushige's cenotaph can be found at the temple.
 
Takedashishugo Yakata / 武田氏守護館

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I was staying in Isawa-onsen so I got up early and before breakfast walked to a minor site, Takedashishugo-yakata, also called Kawada-yakata, just outside of town (across the Byōdō River). The site is now vineyards and a farmstead, but on the northern side there remains a long stretch of dorui (earthen ramparts) lined with ishigaki (stone walls). The stone block retaining wall is likely proto-modern or modern, but the dorui dates to the medieval fortified manor house. Beneath the dorui runs an irrigation ditch which is perhaps the remnant of some moat. A portion of embankment can also be found in the east around Nikū-jinja. There is a signboard with an explanation about the site to the south of the northern bulwark. An old rural residence now stands at the centre of the site.
 
Takenohana Yakata / 竹之花館

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Takenohana-yakata has little history behind it but there are physical ruins. The above ground ruins can be seen surrounding a temple, Kanseiin. These earthworks mostly consist of dorui (earthen ramparts) along the northern perimetre of the site, now the site of a bamboo grove. To the east are traces of a moat, and the presence of a pond in one section here indicates that possibly the moats were water-filled too. Clumps of piled earth in the south at the entrance of the temple are also probably dorui remains.
 
Tanaka Buzennokami Yashiki / 田中豊前守屋敷

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Tanaka-Buzennokami-yashiki was located in the housing area centred around what are now maisonettes called Starlight B, opposite the Tamaho Branch Daily Yamazaki on the Nirasaki-South Alps Main Road. No ruins remain and the site is now developed over with housing and allotments. It's a shame there's nothing to see of the yashiki as its history appears quite interesting.
 
Tanaka Tajimanokami Yashiki / 田中但馬守屋敷

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The site of Tanaka-Tajimanokami-yashiki is now that of Kōtain, a temple, and a Suwa shrine, but no ruins of the yashiki (residence) remain. The temple hall, now unattended, I found nonetheless quite picturesque, although its abandonment tinges the bucolic atmosphere with morbidity.
 
Tanaka Yazouyaemon Yashiki / 田中弥三左衛門屋敷

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Tanaka-yashiki (Tanaka-Yazōyaemon-yashiki) in Kai was a fortified residence site. The site is now that of old residences; perhaps the Tanaka family still lives there - it wouldn't be unusual - though much of the architecture appears modern. There's not much to see of fortifications, but the angular plots on which the homesteads sit appear somewhat elevated above surrounding fields, and the surrounding waterways may be indicative of where former moats ran. But to see anything resembling medieval fortifications here one really has to use one's imagination...
 
Torihara Fort / 鳥原砦

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Torihara-toride is a mountaintop fort ruin with the remains of earthworks. Mostly prominently there is a horikiri (trench cut into the ridge) at the rear of the site. The site is now that of Sekison-jinja, a shinbutsu-shūgō (Kami-Buddha syncretism) shrine. To me it looks like the front-facing terrain of the flattened area containing the shrine hall is carved into steep embankments, a feature called kirigishi. Beneath here the hillside is terraced, a feature called koshi-kuruwa (sub-baileys). It is thought that the old bailey of the fort was excavated to build the shrine. Probably the shukuruwa (main bailey) was somewhat narrower than the current space with the shrine hall, and a lower second bailey was excavated until enough space for the shrine hall was cleared, leaving only part of the ridge and the rear trench; the ridge beside the shrine hall is what remains of the shukuruwa then. There is a trench-like excavation to the north of the shrine’s stone stairway, and this is thought to be where the fort’s ohte (main approach) was located, possibly with a gate built here. The ridge spur which descends to the shrine’s lower precincts looks worked, but I don’t know if this was for the fort or just the shrine.
 
Wakamiko Castle / 若神子城

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Wakamikojō is now a park, but some earthworks remain. The highlight is a small segment of dry moat of the unebori type. This type of moat had ridges of earth within which would prevent enemies from moving easily inside of the moat. Unebori are found at many Sengoku period Hōjō castles but are rare in these parts. The moat is rather shallow, giving the impression that it has filled up with earth over time, but I'm pretty sure that it was deliberately "restored" this way. The trace of this moat continues along but here it has been filled in / not re-excavated. Perhaps the path between the two segments was a dobashi (earthen bridge) or some kind of bridge, as the paved space here is thought to have been the castle's main bailey. The terrain decreases in short drops, and moats once broke up the plateau in various places. Beneath the main bailey a beacon tower was reconstructed. It was known from archaelogical findings that a simple tower had stood here, due to holes for the legs of the tower being found, but, of course, the wooden tower itself being long gone, they based the reconstructed tower on images found in the Wakansansaizue (Illustrated Sino-Japanese Encyclopedia), an Edo period encyclopedia with pictures compiled in 1712. Some castle bloggers have disparaged this reconstruction (Ranmaru-sensei calls it 'something from the Lord of the Rings film'). I can't give my opinion because it's gone now. I found only four concrete blocks with metal casements inside where the tower's wooden legs had been inserted. The untreated wood exposed to the elements mustn't've lasted more than a couple of decades, and once the thing became a hazard it was roped off and eventually torn down. Ah, well! The southern portion of the plateau is situated a little lower than the rest of the castle, and is wooded. I suspected I found earthworks here such as a karabori (dry moat). Other mounds of earth and such exist but are hard to positively identify as the remains of the castle.
 
Yatsushiro Katsuyama Castle / 八代勝山城

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Katsuyamajō is a low-lying yamajiro (mountaintop castle) on a hill overlooking the Kōfu Basin. Features include kuruwa (baileys) and dorui (earthen ramparts) but the site is mixed forest, orchards and agricultural fields, and most of the earthworks are too overgrown with flora to see. However, it was totally worth coming here to meet two wonderful local residents: Badger #1 and Badger #2. It was my first time to encounter badgers. They emerged into a clearing where there were plum fruits scattered about, probably looking forward to lunch, only to encounter humans. These mini bears ('hole bears' in Japanese) hesitated for what seemed like some time - a dozen or so seconds - before hurriedly moving on, and I was able to get a good look at the adorable critters and take several pictures.
  • This is the Katsuyamajō in Yatsushiro County of Kai Province, not to be confused with the Katsuyamajō in Tsuru County of Kai Province – or any other Katsuyama castles!
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ARTShogun

15 days ago
Score 0++
This set is Yamanashi Prefecture updates.