Azumi Nishimaki Castle
Nishimakijō was the main base of the Nishimaki Clan during the Sengoku Period. The Nishimaki Clan also built Nakatou Castle just 3km to the north on another mountain ridge at the height of their power in the early Sengoku Period. They were pushed back by the Ogasawara Clan, nominal rulers of Shinano, however, and lost Nishimaki Castle. In 1545, however, Takeda Shingen invaded Shinano, and the Nishimaki sided with him and re-captured their main castle. Ogasawara Nagatoki allied his clan with the Uesugi of Echigo but still suffered successive defeats, allowing the Takeda to swallow up Ogasawara territory. In 1549 Fukashijō (Matsumoto Castle) was beseiged, followed by Hayashiohjo Castle in 1550. It seems that Nagatoki was a master at hopping from castle to castle. After retreating from Hirase Castle he holed up in Nakatōjō for over six months before being rescued by Uesugi Kenshin - this according to accounts made in records of the Futagi and Mizoguchi families some years later (a this time Futagi Shigetaka was the commander of Nakatōjō and it was apparently upon his advice that Nagatoki retreated there). It is thought that during the this time Nishimakijō was also repaired and besieged. In 1582 the Takeda Clan were destroyed and a re-ascendant Ogasawara Clan invaded Shinano once more. Nishimakijō was destroyed at this time.
I had originally tried to reach the ruins of Nishimakijō in October of last year. At that time I couldn't find the trail, however, and ended up running out of time, electing to visit Kameyamajō instead which is located at a much lower altitude (Nishimakijō is 946m above sea level with a relative height of 226m); Kameyamajō is also referred to as Kameyama-toride (see: Azumi Kameyama Castle), implying a small satellite fort of Nishimakijō. I paid close attention to trail markers this time around and had a much easier time of it.
The ruins of Nishimakijō consist of earthworks: trenches, earth-piled ramparts and cleared kuruwa (baileys). Specifically there are karabori (dry moats), tatebori (climbing moats), kuruwa (baileys), koshikuruwa (sub-baileys), dorui (earthen ramparts), ido (wells) and koguchi ("tiger's maw" gate ruins). I passed through several minor baileys which terraced the mountain ridge, finding tatebori, embankments, gate and well sites. Then I came to the shukuruwa (main bailey). The ramparts here, carved from the mountain, are tall and steep, and it was not simple to climb up. On either side of the main bailey are large, deep dry moats. Beyond the shukuruwa is a secondary bailey. Beneath both baileys are lips forming sub-baileys. The shukuruwa has a prominent koguchi ruin.
|English Name||Azumi Nishimaki Castle|
|Year Founded||Sengoku Period|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Artifacts||Kuruwa, Koguchi, Horikiri, Tatebori, Karabori, Dorui, Koshikuruwa, Ido|
|Access||Hata Station on the Kamikouchi Line; 50 minute walk|
|Visitor Information||24/7 free; mountain|
|Time Required||50 minutes|
|Location||Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 13' 23.38" N, 137° 50' 24.40" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2020|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|