ART Update 2022 Part 6


ART Update 2022 Part 6


Part 6 of ART's updates from the first half of 2022. This is the last set of completed updates focusing on Shiga Prefecture. 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.


Ebe Castle (Omi) / 近江江部城

YasuEbejou (1).JPG

No ruins remain of Ebejō, a fortified manor hall, and the site is now that of temples and dwellings in the village of Ebe (also called Nakakita).
Imamura Castle (Omi) / 近江今村城

KanzakiImamurajou (7).JPG

Ima Village is a lovely little place with waterways in front of and behind houses. These many channels prevent floods and fires. Unfortunately the fortified residence known as Imamurajō is long gone, and it has now been ploughed over. I have been unable to determine whether the castle also made use of these waterways, but considering other castles in the area did, like Ibajō (Iba Castle) and Kakimijō (Kakimi Castle (Shiga)), it's likely that it did.
Iwakura Castle / 岩倉城

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Iwakurajō is a satellite castle of Koźutsumijō (Kozutsumi Castle). It's an intriguing site. One ascends to the site of the castle and there is a ridge. It seems like a very scrawny, narrow bailey, until one looks to one's left and realises that this ridge acts as large wall of earth for the real bailey complex which is situated below. Essentially there is one bailey surrounded by this tall dorui carved from the mountain's ridges. There is terracing beneath the dorui on the inside though, creating sub-baileys above the main bailey (usually sub-baileys are found below not above the central bailey). This set-up is a sort of inversion of what we would expect from a yamajiro (mountaintop castle), like a yamajiro turned inside-out! The site then takes on the qualities of the truly mysterious because at the centre of the bailey is a pond. This pond has a channel from which water is slowly drained off, yet it is said to never empty. Presumably the water wells up from some place below, as it cannot possibly be fed from any streams above in this strange, craterous space. This means that the defenders of Iwakurajō never lacked for a water source, which is one of the most important considerations of siting a castle.
Kakimi Castle (Omi) / 近江垣見城

KanzakiKakimijou (3).JPG

I came to the so-called 'Himeyashiki (Princess's Residence)' area of Kakimijō, which is a presumed bailey site of about 60m by 80m, elevated higher than the surrounding area and surrounded by waterways thought to be the remnants of moats. The site of the temple Kongōji is reckoned to have been the main area of the castle. There is another area called 'Tonoyashiki (Lord's Residence)' in this area. The water ways in the neighbourhood are considered to have formed moats. Kongōji has some old looking stone walls but they probably date to the Edo period at the earliest. Accounting for all of these traces and the given area the castle must've been fairly complex with several parts.
Kamagari Castle (Omi) / 近江河曲城

KanzakiKamagarijou (1).JPG

Only place names, such as Horinomae ('Afore the Moat') and Horinōchi ('Within the Moat'), remain of Kamagarijō ('Riverbend Castle'). The site is now farmland, and the precincts of a temple and shrine (which were probably the same institution formerly); the shrine is Kawamagari-jinja. As the name suggests, the castle was situated within the bend of a river. The yamajiro (mountaintop castle) of Wadayamajō is nearby. Also see Wadayama Castle (Shiga).
Kawanami Castle (Omi) / 近江川南城

KanzakiKawanamijou (1).JPG

Kawanamijō is now the site of the temples Jōdoji and Shinrenji in the village of Kawaminami. Waterways, said to have originally been moats, can be seen adjacent to the temples, and their are dorui (earthen ramparts) remaining, but these are on private property in a thicket. Apparently the castle's koguchi (main gate) existed on the southeastern side. The waterway on the south side looks nice because of the temple architecture adjacent, but it has been made much narrower to accomodate the road. The castle's area was only about 40-60m²; it was a small fortified residence.
Kitamura Castle (Omi) / 近江北村城

YasuKitamurajou (8).JPG

Kitamurajō was only a fortified manor hall, but miraculously the basic structure of the residence's defences remains intact: there is a mizubori (moat) and dorui (earthen ramparts) surrounding the site, and the residence's main gate, a nagayamon (rowhouse gate), is said to be an original structure over four and a half centuries old. This probably owes to the same family, the Kimura Clan, inhabiting the castle continuously since the Sengoku period. The castle of the Kimura Clan is not to be confused with an earlier castle built on the site by the Kitamura Clan, of which nothing now remains. Kitamurajō is private property and can only be seen from without.
Kitasudayama Castle (Omi) / 近江北須田山城

KanzakiKitasudayamajou (1).JPG

There is a small flattened peak and little else to see at the site of Kitasudayamajō. This bailey has a spur on the mountain ridge descending to the east, and I followed this down a little to check for ruins like trenches but found nothing definitive. There are large chutes which some castle explorers identify as tatebori (climbing moats). The route up to the castle may have come from this eastern ridge, but the Kitasuda-yakata is at the western foot of the mountain, so I don't know. The ridge has definitely been worked but I found it difficult to appreciate the fort ruins.
Kunori Yakata / 九之里館

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No ruins remain of Kunori-yakata and the site is now a residential area and shrines. A signboard about the history of this site can be found near Wakamiya-jinja. Hongō-jinja is also nearby.
Kurita Kuboe Castle /

[[|200px|link=Kurita Kuboe Castle]]

Kutsuki Izuminokami Jin'ya / 朽木和泉守陣屋

KutsukiizuminokamiJinya (7).JPG

The site of Kutsukiizuminokami-jin'ya retains some ishigaki (stone-piled retaining walls) and is now the site of a cemetery and a shrine to Inari. I photographed the stone walls but didn't enter the cemetery because it was being worked on.
Kutsuki Shuzen Jin'ya / 朽木主膳陣屋

KutsukishuzenJinya (2).JPG

No ruins remain of Kutsukishuzen-jin'ya, and the site is now a residential block in the town of Hachiman. There is an old house on site which is rather a fetching and a worthy inheritor of the jin'ya perhaps. Excavations seemed to have been carried out at the site.
Nagahara Castle / 永原城

Nagaharajou (4).JPG

The ruins of Nagaharajō include mizubori (water moats) and tall dorui (earthen ramparts). The main bailey is ensconced by dorui and a mizubori on three sides, but there were two other baileys besides and I suspect i found the remnants of more earthworks at a shrine in the surrounding village. For entry into the main bailey please refer to RaymondW's comment below.
Ogawa Castle (Omi) / 小川城


There is a sign board about the castle but I could find no ruins. Note: This is Ogawa Castle in historical Kanzaki County, Ōmi Province, not to be confused with Ogawa Castle in Kōka County, Ōmi Province, found here: Ogawa Castle (Koka).
Sakurabasama Castle / 桜生城

Sakurabasamajou (21).JPG

Sakurabasamajō is a hirajiro (flatland castle) featuring 5m tall dorui (earthen ramparts) and mizubori (water moats). The castle was situated on a slope and the mizubori were situated below. Ramparts surround the whole castle compound, but the rear portions are covered in bamboo thickets. Considering the castle's name, it was only fitting to also find lots of sakura trees here.
Sakurabasamade Castle / 桜生出城

Sakurabasamadejou (1).JPG

Sakurabasamadejō was a satellite fortification of Sakurabasamajō ('dejō' indicating a branch fortification of a larger site). It's actually a mountaintop site, being situated on a hill at the edge of a mountain chain overlooking the plain, and so I was eager to find something tangible, but nowhere could I access this site. It seems there is no path to reach it. On one side is a road which cuts into the mountain and has wrought steep, concreted sides, and from every other direction the hill is surrounded by private property. But I did get close enough to take some pictures of the fort mount, and beneath the site is a kofun (ancient burial mound) complex with well maintained tombs. One can even go inside the burial mounds where there are large stone sarcophagi! This was unanticipated but very interesting. Maps of this site show a single bailey fort complex with some tatebori (climbing moats). My respect to the castle blogger at Jōkaku Tanbō ('Searching for Castles') who made it up onto the hill and confirmed the existence of ruins here.
Sanominami Yakata / 佐野南館


No ruins remain of Sanominami-yakata, at least not above ground, and the site is now rice paddies and pleasant fields adjacent to the Ishibaji River.
Shichiri Yakata (Omi) / 近江七里館

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Shichiri-yakata is now the site of a shrine, Goka-jinja. Behind the shrine's kami house are some sorry lumps of earth which are the focus of speculation amongst diehard castle explorers. I sort of just stopped by on my way to Wadayamajō for a poke around and was attracted by these ruins as I too thought they could be the remains of dorui (earthen ramparts). The dorui seems to form a typical square shape. On one side they are bounded by a waterway, Ishibaji River, which may have been used by the manor hall as a moat. Also see Wadayama Castle (Shiga).
Shimohiyoshi Castle (Omi) / 近江下日吉城

KanzakiShimohiyoshijou (3).JPG

Shimohiyoshijō is interesting only in that it appears to be one of several fortified manor hall sites linked to Sasōjō. There are no remains of the (generously called) castle, however, and the site is now rice paddies. I came here as part of a cycling tour of local castle sites en route to Wadayamajō. Also see Kanzaki Wadayama Castle.
Shimura Castle (Omi) / 近江志村城

KanzakiShimurajou (1).JPG

No ruins remain of Shimurajō and the site is now temples and a residential area centred upon the western portion of the village of Shingū.
Taikouji Yakata (Omi) / 近江躰光寺館

KanzakiTaikoujiYakata (1).JPG

Nishigôri-jinja is said to have been the site of Taikōji-yakata. No ruins remain.
Tanemura Castle (Omi) / 近江種村城

KanzakiTanemurajou (3).JPG

Tanemurajō is now the site of rural homes and fields. There is - or was - a stone marker with the castle's name on adjacent to a waterway, but I didn't see it. The castle was situated on a small rise and probably used the river as a moat, though the latter's course may have been redirected subsequently. I cycled into the small village of Tane but found no ruins. Probably the site is best just appreciated from the main road whilst going past and waving.
Utsuro Yakata / 宇津呂館


Utsuro-yakata was located between what is now the site of Hachiman-jinja, a small local shrine to Hachiman in the neighbourhood of Nakamura, and the Kure-Hachiman-jinja, another small shrine between the Nakamura and Honmachi neighbourhoods. Neither shrines are to be confused with the Himure-Hachimangū, the main shrine in Ōmi-Hachiman at the foot of Mount Hachiman. There is also an Utsuro neighbourhood of Ōmi-Hachiman, but this is located to the east of the yakata site. I visited the southerly Hachiman-jinja, found nothing, and stopped searching, eager to get on with my main intinerary for the day. However, according to some castle bloggers the remains of what may have been a moat of the fortified residence can be found behind the northerly Kure-Hachiman-jinja. I didn't check here. I suppose it makes sense that there are lots of shrines to Hachiman in Ōmi-Hachiman!
Wada Yakata (Kanzaki) / 神埼和田館

KanzakiWadaYakata (2).JPG

Wada-yakata, the fortified residence of the Ōmi-Wada Clan, is now the site of a shrine and rural homes in the village of Wada, Higashi-Ōmi. See also Kanzaki Wadayama Castle and Kanzaki Wadayamako Castle.
Wadayama Castle (Omi) / 近江和田山城

KanzakiWadayamajou (2).JPG

Wadayamajō is a Sengoku period yamajiro (mountaintop castle) ruin with earthworks such as kuruwa (baileys), dorui (earthen ramparts), and umadashi (barbicans). Wadayamajō's ruins are obvious to a yamajiro fan, but there is another castle site on the same mountain of which there are much fewer ruins, and this other castle, called Wadayamakojō, is thought to predate Wadayamajō (see Wadayamako Castle (Shiga)).
Wadayamako Castle (Omi) / 近江和田山古城

KanzakiWadayamakojou (8).JPG

The ruins of Wadayamakojō are much more degraded than those of neighbouring Wadayamajō, but there are several features. The shukuruwa (main bailey) is a flat space of about 30m². Beneath it to the east is evidence of terraced slopes for sub-baileys, and a koguchi (castle gate). See also Wadayama Castle (Shiga).
Yabutsude Castle (Omi) / 近江八仏手城

KanzakiYabutsudejou (1).JPG

This site, Yabutsudejō, is a branch castle of a super minor castle, Tanemurajō, making it super super minor. Anyway, there's zero here to see and the site is now suburban sprawl.
Yamaji Castle (Omi) / 近江山路城


A series of water ways surround Jōgenji, a temple, and residential area in an 'L' shape, and these are thought to be the remains of moats of the castle, though they were probably much wider originally. In the village of Yamaji, now contiguous with the town of Notogawa due to suburban developments, their are neighbourhood names such as Hori ('Moat'), Shiro ('Castle') and Shirobashimae ('Castle Bridge Entrance').
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