Hekitani Castle

From Jcastle.info



The history of Hekitani castle is completely unknown. It is clearly a well designed and fortified castle along a key road. Given the position in relation to Kanbayashi Castle it may have been a satellite castle of the Kanbayashi intended to watch over this route of travel or as a more proper castle in case of war compared to Kanbayashi Castle. However, the advanced castle design is clearly a later Sengoku Period (織豊期) type construction. By this time, the region would have likely been under the control of Akechi Mitsuhide so Mitsuhide's forces may have reinforced an existing smaller castle for the Tanba campaigns. Regardless we have a brilliant late Sengoku Period mountaintop castle with unejotatebori that seems to have been untouched since that period. It is a rich contribution to castle history. It should be more well known, preserved and signposted for the future.

Visit Notes

This is a marvelous earthworks castle with unejotatebori (consecutive vertical trenches) surrounding the main compounds. This is one of those rare features that many castle people get excited about when it is well preserved and Hekitani Castle certainly is. This site should be more well known than it is but it's also not the easiest one to get to. Jokaku Horoki has a very nicely drawn map that illustrates the unejotatebori well. https://www.hb.pei.jp/shiro/tanba/hekitani-naka-jyo/m_nawabarizu.jpg

A couple bloggers have split this into three castles for some odd reason, but from my observations they are clearly just one and are considered one by the Kyoto Castle Survey. If you look at the map below of pins for the photos you can see how they gather into three groupings. Along the ridge from the main castle towards the bottom of the mountain you will find two more smaller baileys with very shallow horikiri trenches. These could not stand as independent fortifications and are not even on divided peaks of a mountain range. They are also barely 100m apart from each other, so I would simply call these demaru. Possibly they were guard posts along the ridge to the main castle.

There are no signs for this castle but I figured out roughly where it should be. I was looking up at the ridge that I wanted to get to from the "left" side of the temple, roughly where another blogger supposedly scaled the steep hillside, and I was wondering if this was really the best way or if it was even worth the effort, when I heard someone shouting from over at the other side of the temple. It was a woman I had passed on the stairs to the temple earlier. At first I thought "oh no, they don't want me fooling around here or climbing into the woods. I walked all this way for nothing!" So, I walked over to the woman who clearly wanted to get my attention and what she actually said was "Are you looking for the castle?" I showed her the information I had and she then proceeded to give me better directions how to go around the side of the temple, take the pathway up to the cemetery from the residential area, and on the other side of the cemetery you will see an easier route up to the ridge top. Once up there it will be easy going to the castle ruins. She was absolutely right. It turns out she lives in the house next to the temple. She may have been worried and waited for me to come down too ... 90 mins later when I came rambling down the stairs she said "you were up there a long time! I thought I'd have to come looking for you hahaha.... !" This was certainly one of those "only in Japan" moments. I find it interesting that there was no hesitation about my being a foreigner, which you actually tend to experience a lot (no hesitation) in these remote areas. I suppose they figure that if you're out here in the middle of nowhere and not crying that you must know enough Japanese to not get lost!

To find the trail go to the road along the "right" side of the temple between the temple and residential area. You should see the stairs in the photo below. Follow these to the cemetery and there will be a small trail in the back.

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  • Take these stairs

Castle Profile
English Name Hekitani Castle
Japanese Name 日置谷城
Founder Kanbayashi clan?
Year Founded mid 1500's ?
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features trenches
Visitor Information
Access Ayabe Sta, 35 min bus, 10 min walk
Visitor Information mountain; open 24x7
Time Required 60 mins
Location Ayabe, Kyoto
Coordinates 35° 22' 1.99" N, 135° 24' 32.76" E
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Added to Jcastle 2024
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 2024
Admin Visits April 14, 2024
Friends of JCastle
Jokaku Horoki
Yamajiro Sanka

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