Asahiyama Castle




Asahiyamajō was first built in the late 14th century and was a base of the Kurita Clan during the Ôtō War. It later became a branch castle of Kuritajō (Kurita Castle), the main base of the Kurita Clan.

In 1553 Uesugi Kenshin advanced up to Kawanakajima to stop the push of Takeda forces into northern Shinano, but Takeda drew the support of the Kurita Clan, who controlled Zenkōji, the temple-fiefdom. Uesugi Kenshin responded by capturing Yokoyamajō (Yokoyama Castle), Zenkōji's temple-fort. He also constructed Katsurayamajō (Katsurayama Castle) in 1555. In response, Takeda forces, consisting of 3,000 troops, including 300 musketmen and 800 archers, occupied Asahiyamajō on the opposite mountain. The Kawanakajima Campaign wore on for two hundred days without decisive battle, weakening both combatants. Asahiyamajō prevented Uesugi forces from crossing the River Sai. Eventually a peace deal was reached, mediated by Imagawa Yoshimoto, and Asahiyamajō was dismantled as part of it.

In 1557, Asahiyamajō was rebuilt by Uesugi Kenshin, following Baba Nobuharu's sacking of Katsurayamajō at the behest of Takeda Shingen. After the 1561 Battle of Kawanakajima, Shingen was able to push back Kenshin, capturing Zenkōji-Yokoyamajō, Katsurayamajō, Asahiyamajō and Koshibamijō. Koshibami Miyauchi was defending Asahiyamajō at the time. These forts and territories were given by Shingen to the Lord of Naganumajō thereafter, and Naganumajō surpassed them in importance.

Visit Notes

I proceeded to climb up to Asahiyama Castle after visiting Koshibami Castle below. The yamajiro (mountaintop castle) ruin consists of large horikiri (trenches), many baileys, ishigaki (stone wall) remnants, and dorui (earthen ramparts). The ishigaki can be found in the area composed of terraced sub-baileys ahead of the shukuruwa (main bailey), near the horikiri. This horikiri, by the way, is large enough that a family home could disappear into it. The shukuruwa is surrounded by dorui. Large baileys cluster the mountaintop in a row beyond the shukuruwa, interspersed with trenches. From the bailey furthest out there are fine views to be had of Nagano from a look-out area.

  • Ishigaki
  • Ishigaki
  • Ishigaki
  • Ishigaki
  • Main Bailey; dorui visible in background
  • Horikiri / Trench
  • Horikiri
  • Horikiri
  • Horikiri
  • Terraced Koshikuruwa I
  • Terraced Koshikuruwa II
  • Terraced Koshikuruwa III
  • Minor Bailey
  • Terraced Koshikuruwa IV
  • Koshikuruwa IV Dorui
  • Castle Mount viewed from below
  • Castle's look-out
  • View of Nagano from castle's look-out

Castle Profile
English Name Asahiyama Castle
Japanese Name 旭山城
Alternate Names 朝日山城
Founder Kurita Clan
Year Founded 14th century
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Kuruwa, tatebori, horikiri, ishigaki, dorui
Features trenches, stone walls
Visitor Information
Access Nagano Station; 40 minute walk to trail head; 20 minute climb. Hike from Asahiyama Kannon Temple.
Visitor Information Free; 24/7; Mountain
Time Required 80 minutes
Location Nagano, Nagano Prefecture
Coordinates 36° 39' 15.98" N, 138° 9' 46.01" E
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Added to Jcastle 2021
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
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