Damine Castle

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Explanation by Chris Glenn, taken on FB : Damine Castle, Aichi Prefecture Also known as Jazuga (Snake Head) or Ryunoshiro (Dragon’s Castle) Damine Castle was built circa 1470 on a hill overlooking the village of Damine in north eastern Aichi Prefecture. It was constructed as a residence for the Suganuma clan, former retainers to the Imagawa clan, and then following the Imagawa defeat at the Battle of Okehazama, the Tokugawa clan. In the mid 1500’s Takeda Shingen began encroaching on the Tokugawa owned Mikawa lands, and the Suganuma clan again changed allegiances to that of the Takeda. There were those within the Suganuma clan, and within the ranks who were against this change of sides. Located on the Inakaido, an important route connecting Ina, Nagashino and Iwamura in Mono (Gifu Pref.) and Koromo (now Toyota City) and then to Hamamatsu, Damine Castle covers a square-ish area about 200m each side. Dry moats and earthen embankments surrounded the western facing front of the castle, with it’s many terraced “kuruwa” or baileys. The uppermost bailey, the Honmaru, was oval in shape, and contained the lord’s residence and working area, a watchtower, retainer’s quarters, guard houses, possibly stables and kitchen facilities. The eastern facing rear of the castle is not so heavily fortified, as it is protected by the naturally steep cliffs along the Toyokawa River far below. At the Battle of Nagashino, Suganuma Sadatada had served with Takeda Katsuyori during the siege of Nagashino, but suffered greatly during the actual battle itself. Katsuyori himself managed to flee from the battlefield and accompanied by Sadatada, sought refuge at Sadatada’s Damine Castle. Upon their arrival, they discovered that Sadatada’s uncle Suganuma Sadanao supported by clan vassal Imaizumi Dozen had defected to the Oda clan, and shut the gates on Sadatada and Katsuyori. They were then forced to escape to Busetsu Castle, about 20km away. In revenge for this act of treason, Sadatada faked his own death, thus relaxing security at the castle. Early one morning, Sadatada and an army of loyal followers attacked the castle, capturing the fortress along with his uncle, Sadanao and Imaizumi Dozen. Both were executed in a public area near the castle along with 100 other traitors. Less than six years later, the Takeda clan were ruined. Fearing the growing strength of the Tokugawa, Sadatada left Damine Castle and fled to Ina in modern-day southern Nagano Prefecture. Damine was soon claimed by the Tokugawa who established another branch of the Suganuma clan, and trusted vassals, as castellan. Although the castle was abandoned during the Edo Period, the castle ruins had remained in relatively untouched condition, allowing for research and for the reconstruction of a number of features, including the lord’s Kyokan, the watchtower, gates and fencing to provide an image of a Sengoku Period castle.

Visit Notes

When I met Chris Glenn for the first time in 2014, he told me about Damine castle. This Sengoku period site has several reconstructed buildings, and I wanted to go there from that moment. So, on 21/05/2023, I took a train on the Iida line, from Toyohashi, at 07:01. I got off at Honnagashino station. It takes about 1 hour. From the exit I went straight ahead for 80m. There is a small plaza with 3 bus stops on the left. From there I took the bus bound for Taguchi. It takes about 1/2h and costs 700¥, to get at Damine bus stop. Walk about 30m back and take the first road to the right. You'll see the signs indicating the direction to the castle. The reconstructed structures are splendid. I tried to cover all the kuruwa(baileys), but I don't know if I did all on the 'back'. These aren't even mentioned on the little pamphlet one receives at the entrance. It's strange, because at one point these spots got their sign post too, but they aren't maintained anymore. Beware, there are only hourly trains on the Iida line, and even less buses bound for Taguchi and back. So plan very carefully if you want to visit this fabulous site.

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  • road to the castle
  • entrance to the castle
  • explanation board
  • bridge leading to the castle
  • koshikuruwa
  • looking back to the entrance
  • gate to honmaru
  • gate to honmaru
  • rear gate
  • observation tower
  • observation tower
  • map of honmaru
  • rear gate seen from the tower
  • palace
  • roof of the palace
  • inside the palace
  • inside the palace
  • Urakuruwa; not well maintained
  • rear gate ruins
  • kuruwa
  • rear gate to the honmaru
  • Damine bus stop

Castle Profile
English Name Damine Castle
Japanese Name 田峯城
Alternate Names Jazuga(Snake head); Ryunoshiro(Dragon's castle)
Founder Suganuma Sadanobu
Year Founded circa 1470
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Designations Local Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features gates, turrets, bridges, palace, trenches
Visitor Information
Access Bus bound for Taguchi from Honnagashino station
Visitor Information open 09:00-16:00; closed : Mondays, days following national holidays, year-end and New Year holidays; price 210yen
Time Required 2 hours
Website http://www.shitara-trail.jp/history/daminejo/
Location Shitara, Aichi Prefecture
Coordinates 35° 3' 17.78" N, 137° 32' 4.49" E
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Added to Jcastle 2023
Contributor Furinkazan
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed

(2 votes)
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13 months ago
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It looks like you fellows have found a little gem of a castle site to visit. Thanks for the profile and comments. I will have to visit Damine Castle when I revisit the Nagashino and Shinshiro areas for some castle-hunting.


13 months ago
Score 0++

Daminejō is a partially reconstructed Sengoku period hilltop castle in the hamlet of Damine, Shitara Township. The main bailey has been restored, including a miyagura (watch tower), ohtemon (main gate), umaya (stables), goten (lord’s palatial residence) and a small rear gate. There is also a wooden bridge spanning a dry moat at the foot of the castle mount, and some palings. Other features include bailey spaces. The carved terraces of the castle mount are well maintained and inspecting the various well-defined and labelled baileys is also an attraction of this site. Reconstructions of Sengoku period forts are not so common, and Daminejō is an exemplar, joining Asukejō which is also in Aichi Prefecture. Though, it must be said, if one compares the goten to those at similar medieval sites, such as at Sakasaijō, for example, then it seems to be overly ornate and elaborate for that period.

The fee is 220 yen to enter the goten (and probably the main bailey too). It looks like the price was increased recently from 210 yen (older blog posts say 200 yen). The old man there charged us 210 yen so maybe he forgot that. I didn’t realise until later. 210 yen is nothing. I’m lucky if I can get a decent coffee cheaper than that! In the lord’s audience room visitors can sit on a special zabuton and, wearing a samurai helmet and holding a sword, pose as a castellan. At the insistence of the guide, this dress-up might actually be mandatory.

Daminejō was originally built by Suganuma Tadanobu in 1470. The Sugunuma Clan sought to expand its territory from Daminejō to the Toyokawa river basin in the south. The Suganuma, a mountain clan, came under the dominion of many stronger powers, and their allegiance vacillated between fealty to the Imagawa, Matsudaira and Oda clans. These switches in allegiance were often accompanied by bitter civil strife within the clan. After switching back and forth between the Imagawa and Matsudaira, the Suganuma came under the sway of the Takeda Clan. Their mountain territory was close to the Shinano border.

In 1575, castellan Suganuma Sadatada fought with Takeda Katsuyori at the Battle of Nagashino. As every history fan knows, the Takeda coalition, particularly its once fearsome cavalry, was decimated by new gunnery tactics, and was forced to retreat. Sadatada and his master returned fresh from their defeat to Daminejō, but Sadatada’s uncle, Suganuma Sadanao, betrayed the Takeda, and barred Daminejō’s gates to the small party. Narrowly avoiding being captured, the band had to flee north to Busetsujō. In retaliation for this betrayal and humiliation, Suganuma Sadatada, having fled to Ina in Shinano, returned to Daminejō in 1576, and laid siege to his own castle. The scenes that followed were of bloodlust and mass murder, and over ninety people who had defended or took refuge in the castle were slaughtered. Sadatada considered one Imaizumi Dōzen to be the ringleader of the rebellion against him; in a field outside the castle, he had Dōzen’s head sawn off.

In 1582, following the fall of the Takeda Clan and the death in battle of Suganuma Sadatada in Ina, Suganuma Sadatoshi, the son of Suganuma Sadanao, and a vassal of Tokugwa Ieyasu, inherited Daminejō. In 1590, Tokugawa and all of his people were relocated to Kantō; Daminejō was abandoned.


13 months ago
Score 0++
I went here not long after Furinkazan! The reconstructions are great (the palace might be a bit too grandiose for such a site though), but the preservation of the earthen bulwarks is also magnificent. I'll post a longer review later. Top site!