Chikuma Saruga Castle
Saruǵajō was built as a branch fortification of Takamatsuyakushijō. It was guarded by the Fujiwara Clan who lived in Naganō. Mountains were frequently travelled in those days and the castle guarded the Iwasū route to Sakakita and Zenkōji.
For more information see Takamatsuyakushi Castle.
Saruǵajō ("Monkey Castle") is a castle ruin set amidst breathtaking mountain scenery. At the beginning of the ruins from the trail is a towering pinnacle of rock called Sarutobi-iwa (Monkey Jump Rock). There is a small tree atop which makes it look like a bonsai arrangement. Legend goes that the column of rock got its name after the castle fell under siege and, when the end was inevitable, a princess threw herself from the pinnacle in suicide.
Why was a castle called for a monkey? The answer is in the castle's remote and inaccessible location; that is, you'd need to be a monkey to get to it, or climb into it. There is no need for elaborate stone walls at this altitude; the mountain provides the sheerest rocks and boulders as an instantaneously defensible position. These natural ramparts are augmented with horikiri (trenches) and a series of flattened areas for baileys. The main bailey is set just above Sarutobi-iwa, and there is a long bailey complex that follows the ridge beyond, with a terraced sub-bailey below. Some earth is piled up here too, which looks like dorui (earthen ramparts), but it may be yet another gift from the mountain which the intrepid castle builders incorporated into their base.
|English Name||Chikuma Saruga Castle|
|Founder||Fujiwara Clan or Maruyama Clan|
|Year Founded||Medieval Era|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Access||Akashina Station on the Shinonoi Line; 12 minute drive or 80 minute walk to trail head|
|Visitor Information||24/7; Free; Mountain|
|Time Required||30 minutes|
|Location||Ikusaka, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 23' 58.49" N, 137° 57' 45.47" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2021|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|