Dousawa Fort


DousawaToride (1).jpg


See Wakatsukiyama Castle for historical background.

Visit Notes

Dōsawa-toride is a yamajiro (mountaintop castle) ruin in the Wakatsuki area of Nagano Municipality. These castle ruins were discovered by sixth grade elementary school pupils in 2003! The students of Wakatsuki Elementary School reportedly discovered the ruins when returning from Wakatsukiyamajō above, noticing the artificial mounding of earth along the below ridge. It isn't even the only castle purportedly discovered by school children; another castle ruin, Dobashijō, in Nagano Prefecture, was discovered by middle schoolers in 1991.

I also noticed, when hiking down the ridge from Wakatsukiyamajō, the distinctive embanked earth rising above the ridge - although I had the benefit of knowing ahead of time that the ruins were there. I imagine that the students made a preliminary search of the site; perhaps they asked their teacher what they should call it. When no record was found for it, they became the site's discoverers.

Dōsawa-toride consists of a series of wide terraced baileys along the ridge. Gate sites are apparent connecting the baileys. The topmost bailey is quite interesting. There is an elevated area which could be considered a corner segment of thick dorui (earthen ramparts), and it's tempting to envision a small tower erected here. There is a smaller corner segment of dorui atop of this wider embankment. Dorui atop of dorui? The wide embankment narrows as it runs along the rear of the main bailey. Beneath the corner ramparts is a karabori (dry moat), like a shallow trench in scale, and it flattens out in the northeast, becoming a ledge-like terrace or sub-bailey.

The structure overall seems quite unorthodox, but still decidedly a fortification. I had the idea that the tiered dorui structure was maybe unfinished, and was intended to be excavated further to create taller ramparts, perhaps along with a deeper trench. It's hard to say. If only some sixth graders were around to guide me!


Dōsawa-toride is also referred to as 'Dōsawadejō' - at least on signs at the site - in reference to Wakatsukiyamajō, but I think that's a little confusing because it could imply that it is a satellite fortification of a larger site called 'Dōsawajō'; the covention is to call such satellite fortifications after the main castle, so that we would expect it to be called 'Wakatsukiyamadejō' instead. But Dōsawa-toride is not, after all, the only satellite fortification of Wakatsukiyamajō, and the upper satellite fort may also be considered a dejiro (annex castle). Many satellite forts are called 'toride (fort)'.

  • Lateral trench
  • Bailey space
  • Explanation board in bailey
  • Lower bailey seen from above.

Castle Profile
English Name Dousawa Fort
Japanese Name 堂沢砦
Alternate Names Dōsawadejō (堂沢出城)
Founder Uesugi Kenshin
Year Founded Mid' 16th Century
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Kuruwa, Dorui, Koguchi, Karabori, &c.
Features trenches
Visitor Information
Access Descend from Wakatsukiyamajō; 15 min hike
Visitor Information 24/7 free; mountain
Time Required 30 minutes
Location Nagano, Nagano Prefecture
Coordinates 36° 41' 38.36" N, 138° 13' 2.06" E
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Added to Jcastle 2023
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
Friends of JCastle
Jōkaku Hōrōki

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