Chikuma Sasazawa Castle
Sasazawajō was a satellite fortification of Aida-Kokuzōsanjō, used by the Aida Clan to protect their valley home. According to the Higashi-Chikuma Gunshi (East Chikuma County Journal, 1919), the castle was also known as Ochimizu Fort and commanded by Sasazawa Kenmotsu.
Sasazawajō ("Bamboo Creek Castle") is an earthworks yamajiro (mountaintop castle) ruin with remnants of kuruwa (baileys), dorui (earthen ramparts) and horikiri (trenches dividing the ridge). There is a main bailey where there is an old marker post for the castle, with a koshikuruwa (sub-bailey) directly beneath. Descending the ridge here we find traces of horikiri in several places. There are some more baileys as the ridge climbs gradually up, and the topmost is divided by what looks like some interesting trenches in an irregular forked configuration. I kept on going up just to be sure not to miss anything and found a cleared space with an abandoned pigsty. I'm told that when domesticated pigs become feral they revert into boars but I don't know how true that is; perhaps they need to grow coats if they don't have a sty to shelter in! The ridge ends in a plateau which is used as farmland. It was starting to get dark by this point so I quickly descended the mountain.
To access Sasazawajō one finds the trail over a river behind what used to be Gojō Elementary School. There is some terracing between the trailhead and the main bailey. Near the start of the trail is a wide flattened area which used to be a place for cultivating shiitake mushrooms but is now completely overgrown and covered in moss like a swamp. Yet this suspiciously flat area may have been where the castle's kyokan was situated. A kyokan is the residential area of a yamajiro where the castellan would've lived during peacetime. Sasazawajō is not to be confused with nearby Sasaǵajō or Sasanojō.
|English Name||Chikuma Sasazawa Castle|
|Founder||Aida Clan; Sasazawa Kenmotsu|
|Year Founded||Sengou Period|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Artifacts||Kuruwa, Dorui, Horikiri|
|Access||Nearest station is Akashina Station on the Shinonoi Line; trail starts from over river behind Gojou ES|
|Visitor Information||24/7 free; mountain|
|Time Required||60 minutes|
|Location||Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 20' 52.30" N, 137° 58' 22.40" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2021|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|
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