Habakojō was originally a residence of Kusama Bizen, a vassal of the Ogasawara Clan in the Sengoku period. The castle was later taken over by the Shiba Clan who would then relocate to Habajō in the late Momoyama period. Habajō was a much larger and more advanced fortification, and so Habakojō was, by then antiquated and unnecessary, likely abandoned, though it’s possible it was retained for a short time as a satellite fortification of the new castle. Likely by the Edo period it had become farmland.
See also Haba Castle.
Habakojō is the antecedent fortification site of Habajō of which substantial earthworks remain. Habakojō itself, however, has much less to offer. The site is situated on a tongue-shaped plateau (as the Japanese topographical term has it) which bulges toward the end (so, more like a dog’s tongue than a human’s I suppose). The plateau is called Kojōbara (‘Old Castle Plateau’). To the east is the River Tenryū, the mighty river which runs through the Ina Valley between Lake Suwa and the Pacific Ocean. To the south is a creek with a small river with an old brickwork bridge called Meganebashi (‘Monocle Bridge’ I’d hazard since there is only one arch). To the north is a wider creek which is dry (now a golf drive). The defensive capabilities of this position are obvious. To the northeast is a low-lying area next to the Tenryū, now just rice paddies, and this is thought to have been the site of a residence used by Kusama Bizen.
Of ruins of ‘Haba Old Castle’ there are few to none. Some earth is piled up on either side of the plateau, possibly representing dorui (earthen ramparts) but there’s really no way for me to clarify that. One castle explorer reported a possible dry moat, of which they provided a photograph. It was heavily overgrown but the flora formed a bowed ‘V’ shape which looked quite moat-like. But I couldn’t find this at first. I was able to locate the exact place they took their picture by going on a pylon visible in it, and it turned out that this moat of theirs was a phantom formed by foliage; the grass I found here to be cut down and cleared, and the impression of a moat was all but gone except for the slightest grove in the dirt which could’ve been be anything. I suppose it’s also possible that there was a moat trace but that it was filled in. That’s unfortunate but it was satisfying to solve a mystery which perplexed me for a good fifteen minutes or so.
|English Name||Habako Castle|
|Year Founded||Sengoku Period|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Access||Haba Station on the Iida Line; 10 minute walk.|
|Visitor Information||24/7 free; fields|
|Time Required||20 minutes|
|Location||Tatsuno, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||35° 57' 27.83" N, 137° 58' 50.16" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2022|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|
|Friends of JCastle|
|Oshiro Tabi Nikki|