Furumiya Castle

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Furumiyajou (1).JPG

History

Furumiyajō was designed and constructed by Baba Nobuharu under the orders of Takeda Shingen in 1571. Tsukude was controlled by the Okudaira Clan who fell under the suzerainty of the Kai-Takeda. They bordered on Imagawa and Matsudaira territory. In 1573 Takeda Shingen died and the Okudaira conspired against Takeda Katsuyori with Tokugawa Ieyasu. The betrayal caused chaos in Furumiyajō, and, during the Battle of Furumiyajō, the Okudaira, reinforced by Tokugawa forces, rushed the castle, sacking it, and burning all of the buildings to the ground. The castle was thereafter abandoned.


Visit Notes

Furumiyajō, a hilltop earthworks fort ruin in Tsukude Village, Shinshiro Municipality, was the highlight of my tour of castle ruins in the valley. It seems to have drawn the attention of castle-enthusiasts in recent years, and with good reason. It is a vast complex of impressive earthworks, featuring dorui (earthen ramparts), dobashi (earthen bridges), masugata (square gate complex), kuruwa (baileys), karabori (dry moats), tatedorui (climbing dorui), and more. The structure is highly advanced – in my estimation at least, and I could see the evolution from medieval into the vast Edo period castles taking shape before me.

As far as earthworks castle ruins go without buildings, this is a top site. The only downside is that the whole hilltop is covered in a cedar plantation. The monocultural forest makes lighting gloomy, and obstructs what would otherwise be a flawless view of vast medieval fortification earthworks. In person it’s easy to see around and between the many trees, but it’s tough to take panoramic photographs. There is clearly a lot of interest in this site, and I wish the trees would be cut down. Once a hilltop is removed of trees it takes more maintenance to keep back the bush, but I think an unfettered castlescape here would really put it and Tsukude on the map. Tsukude in general has done a wonderful job of promoting its historic fortification sites, and so if this one were cleared and maintained like Kameyamajō, it’d be even more amazing – perfect – and I’d go back in a jiffy. Kameyamajō seems to be prized as the village’s main castle ruin, but I was more impressed by Furumiyajō. Going by reviews on Google Maps and castle blogs, I’m not alone in this.

The layout of Furumiyajō is vast and complex, or seems vast due to its complexity, and I was surprised to read after wandering around the site that the dimensions are only 200m east-west by 150m north-south. The hilltop is cleft in twain by the ôhorikiri (great trench). These two halves, west and east, are connected by a dobashi and their layout is different. The western portion consists of a bailey perfectly ensconced with beautiful dorui. Beneath this hilltop bailey is row after row of trenches and embankments encircling the hillside. At the deepest place there are five layers of these defences. In parts the dorui and karabori fork off, creating a complicated array of ramparts and dead-ends. The two largest karabori are at the top and bottom, and in the middle the topmost sits above the bottommost, divided by towering earthen embankments. The topmost karabori is ‘U’-shaped, curving around the central bailey of the western castle. The bottommost karabori stretches around much of the bottom of the western castle. It is eventually enveloped by a northern extension of the middle great trench. The outermost moats of the castle are swamp moats and are difficult to enter.

The eastern castle is defended at its lower reaches by moats both dry and boggy. Terracing climbs the hillside and lower baileys are divided by half-man-height dorui (likely for water level control). One of the terraced baileys had a sign indicating it was used as a prison. One of the most interesting features of the eastern castle is that it has radiating spokes of tatedorui, climbing earthen ramparts, which reminded me of an earthworks version of flying buttresses of some great cathedral of earth. The eastern main bailey, the centre of the whole castle, is heavily fortified with tall dorui and a masugata gate complex. It is not difficult to see in the mind’s eye here yaguramon (gatehouses) and yagura (keeps) which would not look less than fitting for an Edo period castle. One of the rampart segments overlooking the gatehouse courtyard now hosts a huge zelkova tree.

I wish I had more time at this site, appreciating it from all angles as I ferret my way through every trench and atop every rampart. I had to be a bit more selective on this my first visit as I only had a couple of hours, but I think it could take many hours to exhaust. I would happily go back, dedicating more time to the easternmost and outermost ruins.




Gallery
  • Masugata Dorui


Castle Profile
English Name Furumiya Castle
Japanese Name 古宮城
Founder Baba Nobuharu
Year Founded 1571
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Next 100 Castles, Local Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Dorui, Horikiri, Kuruwa, Mizubori, Tatebori, Karabori, Masugata, &c.
Features water moats, trenches
Visitor Information
Access Route 301
Visitor Information 24/7; Free; Mountain
Time Required 150 minutes
Website https://www.city.shinshiro.lg.jp/kanko/meisyo/furumiyajyoato.html
Location Shinshiro, Aichi Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 58' 21.47" N, 137° 25' 40.08" E
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Admin
Added to Jcastle 2023
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
Friends of JCastle
Kojōdan
Jōkaku Hōrōki
Kojō Seisuiki
Yogo
Umoreta Kojō
Nippon Shiro Meguri


3.50
(2 votes)
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RaymondWDaimyo

9 months ago
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It’s good to see that another castle fan has visited this highly enjoyable castle ruin in the back waters of Shinshiro City, Aichi. I visited this castle ruin along with five others in area in early 2017 during prime yamajiro season. This almost semi-circular castle ruin is the most interesting of the six castle ruins in the area.

Near 白鳥神社(White Bird Shrine’s) stone gate, one of the ways to get into the castle ruin, is a sign about the history of the castle erected by the Shinshiro Board of Education. It states that this castle was constructed in 1571. I wonder if that sign has been changed with updated information as in the history section on this profile written by ART, it mentions that the castle was constructed in 1572. In a book that I have, published in 2018, it also mentions that the year of construction was in 1571, same as in the photo of the sign that I took back in 2017. However, in an earlier publication by a different author, one of the leading experts in castle archaeology and history, Hitoshi Nakai, who states that Furumiya Castle was built in 1573 (天正元年 or the 1st year of the Tensho Era). For me, when there is a discrepancy in information about a castle, I usually go with what the local Board of Education (BoE) has said about their historical site as presumably they are the LOCAL experts. After all, it would be embarrassing if the Shinshiro BoE got its facts wrong.

This castle ruin certainly has lots of features that a Japanese castle fan loves to see. I won’t repeat what ART has put in his detailed visit notes. I wonder if he is a Takeda Shingen fan as he is positively gushing in his enthusiasm about visiting this castle ruin. :-) I’ll just add a brief impression of what came to my mind when I visited this yamajiro. When I was walking around the lower sections of the northwestern side of this castle ruin and looking up at the layers of ascending dorui (earthen ramparts), it reminded me of the curtain walls found at some European castles, with increasingly higher walls overlooking the lower walls and allowing additional covering fire from defenders on a higher level. The tatedorui reminded me of the spokes of a bicycle wheel and like at some other yamajiros with tatedorui that I have visited, they neatly compartmentalise Furumiya Castle making it easier to defend but not impregnable as history has proved.

It would be nice if all the trees were removed from this castle ruin as mentioned by ART, so castle fans can see this short-lived Takeda Shingen castle in all its glory. However, if all the trees and ferns were removed, I wonder if it would hasten the rate of erosion of the extant earthworks.
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ARTShogun

9 months ago
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Okay, changed to 1571. Most blogs say 1571 so i don't know where 1572 came from, actually. The construction date is apparently known via the 『三河国二葉松』. Thanks for the comment. Having gone through my pictures of the site, i strongly feel that the sheer amount of trees is hugely detrimental to appreciating the site without physically being there. The land is supposedly owned by a party of individuals, and the cedar plantation will remain for the forseeable future it seems. Maybe they're hoping the city will purchase the land from them to turn the site into a proper park. I know i am.
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RaymondWDaimyo

9 months ago
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ART, I agree with you that the castle ruin would be more visible and easier to appreciate for castle fans if the cedar trees were chopped down and removed. However, I still think completely stripping a yamajiro ruin of all of its green cover will lead to faster erosion of the earthwork remnants. Think about it, why do (mostly) earthwork castle ruins like Hachigata Castle and Yamanaka Castle have a layer of grass growing on its earthen ramparts? One reason is likely for improved aesthetic appeal, but I’m fairly sure the other and possibly main reason is to protect the earthworks. Some prominent earthwork castles like Genbao Castle and Eboshigata Castle have some trees to protect them from torrential rain during the warmer months. Perhaps, Furumiya Castle can go that way with its trees felled and the earthworks protected by a layer of grass if the site is commercialised and turned into a pay-to-visit castle site. Barring commercialisation of Furumiya Castle for castle tourism, I reckon it’s unlikely the cedar trees will be cut down anytime soon.
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ARTShogun

9 months ago
Score 0++
by all means use a grass covering. any reasonable castle enthusiast or casual visitor would pay to see this site.