ART Update 2022 Part 4


ART Update 2022 Part 4


Part 4 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.


Hamagawa Castle / 浜川城

Hamagawajou (1).JPG

The remains of Hamagawajō consist of a corner segment of dorui (earthen ramparts) and karabori (dry moats). The site is now fields and housing plots, and an explanatory board can be found on the roadside in what was once the fort’s outer bailey. A path leads from the road by the sign to the earthwork ruins. Be mindful that much of the site is now used as farmland and is private property.
Haneo Castle / 羽根尾城

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Haneojō is a small yamajiro (mountaintop castle) dug into the ridge. It contains horikiri (trenches bisecting the ridge), kuruwa (baileys) and dorui (earthen ramparts). A pylon now stands in what was the fort’s main bailey. I briefly saw a rabbit here. Haneojō’s most impressive features are its deep horikiri.
Juuouzan Fort / 十王山砦

JuuouzanToride (1).JPG

Jūōzan-toride is now the site of Shiroyama Park in Tomioka; it is often conflated with the site of Tomiokajō. There is a small tumulus of earth with a flattened top and this represents the remains of earthworks of the small fort. The fort's footprint continued along the ridge to the look-out area where there are now benches (past the house with too many dogs). The hillside beneath the mound looks like kirigishi (an artificially steepened slope). The hillside itself is very steep on the south side where it overlooks the Takada River, and the position is readily defensible. Access the site via the carpark at the bottom of the hill and walking up the winding trail. The hillside is covered in cherry blossom trees and so the park must be a local flower-viewing spot in the spring. There are signs which say to beware of snakes but I encountered a large 'Murder Hornet', as they are now known in English. It silently went by like a floating cigarillo. Usually they're much louder, but I suppose the fiend's quiet meant that it was not looking for blood at that time - perhaps it was already sated on mayhem and destruction for that afternoon.
Kakegawako Castle / 掛川古城

Kakegawakojou (1).JPG

Kakegawakojō, or 'the Old Kakegawa Castle', overlooks Kakegawajō. Many large and famous castles have earlier versions nearby, did you know that? Usually they don't have much to see, but Kakegawakojō is actually quite impressive. The hilltop site, now a park and temple (Ryūgein), is carved into various baileys, and one has a great view of Kakegawajō's reconstructed tower from one of the lower sub-baileys, but the main feature of Kakegawakojō is the Ôhorikiri (Great Trench, or 'Monster Trench' is what I said when I saw it), located to the rear of the site. As the name would suggest, this long trench, which bores through the hillside like a hot knife through butter, is deep and wide. Dorui (earthen ramparts) are also banked up in the bailey above, creating a formidable defence.
Kanbara Castle / 鎌原城

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Kanbarajō is a ‘gakebatajiro’, or ‘clifftop castle’, built on a plateau surrounded by the Agatsuma River. The cliffs’ precipitous sides make this a readily defensible location. Remains of the castle include kuruwa (baileys) formed from karabori (dry moats) dividing the plateau. The main bailey and second bailey, which have been recently cleared and maintained, are on a narrower part of the plateau at its tip, and the third bailey is more expansive, and is now farmland. There are some lower baileys beneath the main bailey which are now forested. There is a spur of the plateau located at lower elevation with some small baileys called the ‘eastern baileys’, though from above these appeared to be obscured by landslides.
Kawasaki Shoujirou Yakata / 川崎庄司郎館

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There is nothing to see of Kawasakishōjirō-yakata, the fortified manor hall of Lord Kawasaki Shōjirō, as the site has now been completely developed over with tall buildings. However, the remains of buildings and moats were unearthed here in 2010 (probably during the construction of Park Habio Shibuya) and subsequently reburried. I came by only because it was between the Shibuyajō site and Shibuya Station. The trees lining the roads were in blossom and I found a strange building, but that is all I can report! Shibuya is now famous for its busy intersection more than anything else.
Kitaaranami Fort / 北新波砦

KitaaranamiToride (24).JPG

Kitāranami-toride is a well-preserved earthworks fort ruin. Many of the forts used by the Nagano Clan in this area are flatland fortifications resembling fortified manor halls. As such, some of them are also referred to as 'yakata'. Kitāranami-toride is now a park. Ruins most prominently include dorui (earthen ramparts), which wholly ensconce the bailey. There is what looks like a faux-reconstructed gatehouse at the park too, though set a little off to the side so as not to obstruct the ruins. Passing through the gate one comes to an area with lots of information panels about Kitāranami-toride and many other forts in the area. After reading the information about these forts accompanied with various maps, I decided to visit also the remains of Kitatsumeno-toride and Hamagawajō. Adjacent to Kitāranami-toride is the temple Manshōji, which, contemporaneous with the fort, was also surrounded by dorui. See also: Minowa Castle, Kitatsumeno Fort, Hamagawa Castle.
Kitatsumeno Fort / 北爪ノ砦

KitatsumenoToride (1).JPG

Little remains of Kitatsumeno-toride except for a former moat which is now used for narrow rice paddies. I followed this moat, which is set back and below fields and orchards which constitute the interior site of the fort, down to a small river, a tributary of the Ino River, which was used as the fort’s southern moat. This entire western outer moat segment can be followed and discerned down its length where it runs between houses and fields, but the rest of the castle site is buried under housing. Initially I failed to find anything, looking in the middle of the fort site where the inner moat was rather than at its western edge, but looking at satellite imagery I was able to discern the outer moat remains from above. There are no signs pointing to the castle ruins, and they are well-hidden. To the west of Kitatsumeno-toride was Kitāranami-toride, which is well preserved, and to the north was Yajimano-toride, of which nothing remains. For related sites see Minowa Castle and Kitaaranami Fort.
Mayamahigashi Castle / 馬山東城

Mayamahigashijou (14).JPG

Mayamahigashijō is twinned with Mayamanishijō but I was not able to visit the latter as I could find no way to easily get up the mountain (I judged it wasn't one to visit in summer, but one could probably climb up from the back of the field south of Beisanji). Mayamahigashijō, however, is now the site of a temple surrounded by fields, and accessible by car. The temple, Beisanji, has stone walls, but, though piled in handsome fashion, these are not remains of the castle. Only the terrain can be discerned now, but there is a 'tongue-shaped plateau' of earth beneath the temple which is now put to plough, and this would've made an ideal bailey space for the old castle. Thereafter the ridge gradually descends and is terraced along its length, and likely these terraces formed a staircase-like array of defences for the castle from the bottom-up. This method of creating steep terraces is called kirigishi, and kirigishi and kuruwa, baileys formed from flattened earth, represent the only ruins of Mayamahigashijō. It is thought that dry moats may have divvied up the castle area but that these were filled in for farmland afterward. Atop of the stone retaining walls of the temple there is a marker for the castle.
Nakazaki Yashiki / 中崎屋敷

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Nakazaki-yashiki's main hall is an important cultural property dating to 1688. This was my first time to visit a jizamurai residence. Jizamurai were provincial gentry, samurai warriors who also engaged in farming. Jizamurai are typically considered below samurai in the socio-economic ranking. In the Edo period samurai lived in jōkamachi (castle towns) and their income was dependent upon service to their lord; whilst they may have grown vegetables in their gardens, including by employing the help of peasants, they could not make a living farming. Jizamurai lived away from castles in the countryside and had a much more agrarian lifestyle. The Nakazaki Residence happens to be located right next to a castle, Koibuchijō, but it was already a ruin by the time this home was built in 1688. In its day the house was part of Mito Domain, headquartered from Mitojō. Inside I noticed that instead of a section of earthen floor like in most kominka (folk homes), the kitchen area had wooden floorboards around the hearth as well as in the general living area. The rest of the house where the bedrooms are was not open and has had glass installed around the veranda and may still be lived in, or at least was until recently. The owner of the home lives in an adjacent house, a modern dwelling made of vertical clapboard siding which is very typical in Japan and of the Shōwa Period. He was out talking to workmen in the lane when we arrived and he kindly invited us to look inside the house. With wooden beams, earthen walls, and a thatched roof, the Nakazaki Residence, despite the convenience of glass separating the veranda from the outside, is a very well preserved dwelling. It is surrounded by farmland and preserved alongside a kura (traditional storehouse) used by the Nakazaki family.
Nanokaichi Jin'ya / 七日市陣屋

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Nanokaichi-jin'ya has a handful of extant structures, but most of them have been relocated off-site. The two on-site buildings are the nakamon (middle gate), also called kuromon (black gate), and a portion of the palatial compound, the shoin (drawing room) with genkan (entrance parlor) attached. The goten (palace) dates to 1843, and may be the only surviving jin'ya goten in Kantō. Buildings from nearby bukeyashiki (samurai homes) also survive. Most of the site of the jin'ya is now Tomioka High School, but a small corner has been retained with the surviving structure of the jin'ya which is now a pleasant garden. In addition to the buildings there is also a segment of dorui (earthen ramparts) and a large mound at the corner of the site, called 'goten'yama (palace mount)', which was a yaguradai (platform for a small tower). The shoin, which looks like it has undergone structural alterations since the Edo period, is usually closed to visitors, but I hear that tours for large groups can be arranged through the school.

As for the relocated structures, these are scattered around and throughout Tomioka Municipality. There is one structure in the downtown area near the silk mill, and this is perhaps the jin'ya's uramon (rear gate). It is now somebody's front gate, and it has been restored with adjoining fences and stone walls, and looks very new. The main doors alone are black with age, presenting a stunning contrast. Though very pretty, it seems that very little of the original gate has survived. To find the uramon go one block north from the northwest corner of the silk mill and take a left; the uramon can be found at a point where there is a crank(shaft)-like bend in the road.

The other two relocated gates are located in the countryside. The jin'ya's ôtemon (main gate) is actually to be found in neighbouring Shimonita, a township in Kanra District; it can be located on Google Maps by searching '旧七日市陣屋移築大手門'. It is located just below Mayamanishijō, a yamajiro (mountaintop castle), and is now part of an old rustic residence. The gate is part of a larger wall which looks quite impressive and is becoming of its pedigree. It seems to be in mostly good shape. The jin'ya's minamimon / nanmon (south gate) is to be found in the Myōgi area outside of Tomioka town centre; it can be found on Google Maps by searching '七日市陣屋移築南門'. When I was looking at the gate a lady came out, so I explained about searching for jin'ya gates, and she said that, in addition to the front gate being from Nanokaichi-jin'ya, the gate on the otherside of the property was from Obata-jin'ya!

Other historic structures related to the domain include two gates which belonged to the Hosaka family who served as the (hereditary) karō (chief ministers) of the domain. The north Hosaka residence retains a handsome nagayamon (row-gatehouse). Although I missed it (there's always something!) there is pond next to the road on the northeastern edge of the property which is said to be the remnant of the outer moat of the jin'ya. That would place the Hosaka residence within the outer moat, showing a primacy of placement. The south Hosaka residence is now the site of a Kendōjō (a training hall for fencing), and it has a large gate. Though somewhat impressive the shape is a little unusual, and it seems like this gate may have been subject to many restorations over the years which have altered its apperance. Once again the central doors of the gate appear to be the oldest part.
Sagara Castle / 相良城

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At Daikeji, a temple in Fujieda Municipality, there is a relocated goten (palatial residence of a castle lord) from Sagarajō. I wanted to see the goten, which is now Daikeiji's kyakuden (guest hall) next to the temple's main hall, but the actual site of the castle is quite far away (25km) down in Makinohara Municipality on the coast. It is said only a few goten survive but in fact many have been relocated, though the relocation process and subsequent repairs to these structures often warps their original structure. As for the Sagarajō Goten is appears quite fresh on the outside, and, since the temple was not open at the time of my visit, I am left to conclude that the interior parts are what has been chiefly preserved. Apparently the lord of Sagarajō Tanuma Okitsugu's study room is preserved as it was when first built. The castle's wikipedia article (Japanese) says that the shoin (drawing room) of the goten, this building, was moved to the temple in 1782. If that's the case then when was it originally built? Sagarajō, formerly a jin'ya site, was only built from 1767. The goten maybe dates to this time but then why was it moved so soon? I think it may have been moved in 1787 and the reason for this is discussed in the history section above. Sagarajō goten is not to be confused with Sagara-goten, an earlier facility established by Tokugawa Ieyasu. Oh, Daikeji is also linked to Tanakajō! The tombs of several Tanaka Castle lords and chief vassals can be found there.
Sugimoto Castle / 杉本城

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The centre of Sugimotojō is thought to have been the peak above Sugimotodera, a temple most renowned now for its long set of mossy stone steps, though the castle's environs may have spread across the whole hill to where Jōmyōji, another temple, stands. It is not possible to access the wooded peak, Ôkurayama, above Sugimotodera, and so the temple itself is as close as we can get to Sugimotojō. The many gorintō (stone stupas in five tiers) at the temple are the graves (cenotaphs) of fallen warriors, and paying one's respects here should be the goal of castle explorers. Baileys of the castle are said to remain but I can find no other ruins reported, and given the time period I wouldn't expect much to remain. At anyrate the castle is not known for its ruins, but for its history.
Sumiyoshi Castle (Sagami) / 相模住吉城

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Very little remains of the castle ruins today. Behind the Sumiyoshi Shrine is a large tunnel. It is unlit and very dark, but it has an opening further up the mountain where there is now a private villa. The villa-side entrance is blocked. There is a legend that the Miura brothers escaped from the castle via this tunnel when the Hōjō recaptured it. This mysterious tunnel is not to be confused with the (more) modern Sumiyoshi Tunnel which is part of a footpath through the mountain. I ascended the castle mount adjacent to the Sumiyoshi Tunnel as it is close to the ridge. The mountain top has been worked and terraced, and the ridge has been cut into with a deep trench, but it's hard to determine whether these alterations aren't from after the time of the castle. Much of the site is private property and cannot be explored.
Tomioka Castle (Kozuke) / 上野富岡城

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Tomiokajō in Tomioka, Gunma, is an easily confused site. It's not so difficult to confuse this weed-infested earthworks ruin with the majestic castle of the same name down in Kyūshū (Tomioka Castle), but it is often conflated with a nearby site called Jūōzan-toride. Since the latter is a satellite fortification of Tomiokajō it could also be considered part of that castle, but specifically Tomiokajō was located on a mount east of what is now Shiroyama Park, and Jūōzan-toride is now the park site. Many castlers must come to Tomioka and, what with the paucity of information on the site, and what there is being difficult to find on account of filtering out information about the Kyūshū site, they home-in on Shiroyama Park, which, you understand, means 'Castle Mount Park', and visit there under the not unreasonable impression that it is Tomiokajō proper. I visited both Tomiokajō and Jūōzan-toride (Juuouzan Fort). Tomiokajō, which is thought to have suffered extensive damage with the contruction of a large road on its western side, is a collection of terraced baileys and sub-baileys on the hill to the east of the road. The site is, for the most part, frightfully overgrown with bamboo grass and other pest plants, and hard to explore. Initially it seems easy to visit because a concrete road goes to a pylon, and this is kept cleared, but exploring the castle structure is near impossible. The castle master whose blog I was following said he went with a scythe! I salute him. The site of the pylon is thought to have been a bailey of the castle. Beneath here I identified terraced sub-baileys, but they were too overgrown to meaningfully photograph (I think going back in winter would yield nothing new - except for the addition of being cold - unless I were to pack a matchet).
Tomioka Jin'ya / 富岡陣屋

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There's nothing to see of Tomioka-jin'ya and the site is now that of Tomioka Silk Mill. The mill ceased all operations in 1987 and is now open to the public as a museum; in 2014 it was made a 'World Heritage Site' under UNESCO.
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