Aratame Castle


Aratamejou (1).JPG


Aratamejō is a very old site (despite the name), and may have been founded in the Nara period as the Rusuden, which was the kyokan (residence) of the deputy governor of Dewa Province. In 1062, shortly after the relocation of the provincial capital to nearby Kinowa Castle, Minamoto Yoshiie dispatched the Sudō Clan to the area, and they renovated Aratamejō as their fortified residence. The Sudō Clan used it as a base during the conflicts in the area during the late 11th century. The Sudō Clan changed their name to the Rusu Clan to legitimise their ownership by connecting their lineage to the original deputy governors of the area, and the Rusu Clan ruled throughout the Sengoku period. In the lead up to the battle of Sekigahara the Rusu fought for the Western Army as vassals of the Uesugi Clan. Aratamejō was abandoned in the Edo period after 1615.

Visit Notes

Aratamejō, located in the Mototate township of Sakata Municipality, is thought to be the oldest fortified residence site in Shōnai, and also the longest continually inhabited in the prefecture. Mototate could mean ‘original fortified residence’. The ruins of Aratamejō feature dorui (earthen ramparts) and a segment of mizubori (water moat). The site is now a shrine in a forested grove.

There is a mound of mysterious origin in a field behind the shrine. I, having come to the back of the shrine, found no obvious path through to this field, and so maybe it is accessed from a different place; that is to say I missed the mound, so I can’t give my opinion. Castle-bloggers don’t seem to agree, but some say this is a yaguradai (a platform for a small tower).

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  • Mizubori (water moat) around shrine
  • Dorui

Castle Profile
English Name Aratame Castle
Japanese Name 新田目城
Alternate Names Dewa-kuni Rusuden (出羽国留守殿)
Founder Dewa Province; Sudō Clan / Rusu Clan
Year Founded Nara Period; 1062
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Prefectural Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Mizubori, Dorui, &c.
Features water moats
Visitor Information
Access Mototate Station on the Uetsu Line; 7 minute walk to shrine
Visitor Information Open 24/7; free (shrine)
Time Required 30 minutes
Location Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture
Coordinates 38° 58' 4.76" N, 139° 53' 19.64" E
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Added to Jcastle 2023
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
Friends of JCastle
Jōkaku Hōrōki
Tōhoku Jōkan
Kojō Seisuiki

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