Hiraide Moated Settlement

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This ancient settlement in Hiraide, Shiojiri, was fortified at some point with moats and earthen embankments! The settlement was founded in the Jōmon period, and the remains of 116 pit dwellings have been found from this time. Many pit dwellings have likewise been discovered from the Kofun period. Habitation seems to have sloped off during the classical era, with around fifty dwelling sites found from during the Heian and Nara periods. Structures representative of all of these periods have been restored. The Yayoi period, which is between the Jōmon and Kofun periods, is not represented architecturally at the site as no pit homes have been found from that time, though other artifacts, such as pottery, have. This may indicate, it occurred to me, that the original Jōmon period settlement was abandoned and the site was late resettled with new people. The relationship between the Jōmon and the later Yayoi peoples is a controversial topic and the museum does not explore this mystery – that I saw. I imagine the settlement was fortified sometime after this resettlement, during the busy Kofun Period. Several groups of kofun (burial mounds) can also be found throughout the area.

Visit Notes

Hiraide is an archaeological site and National Historic Site in Shiojiri Municipality. The site was inhabited for thousands of years and many pit homes from various time periods have been excavated. Many structures, such as pit homes and storehouses, have been reconstructed. The reconstructions are grouped by historical period, and each period has its own area, but historically areas inhabited overlapped throughout the whole site.

There is an information centre in the park, which is like an outdoor museum. Ruins of ancient burial mounds are also dotted around. The castle enthusiast will note the unmistakable remains of dorui (earthen ramparts) and moats surrounding the site. The remains around the reconstructed Kofun Period village are least obvious, forming a sort of raised platform above surrounding vineyards, though likely there were originally moats dug here. The most significant remains zigzag in angled fashion around a portion of the restored Jōmon Period village. Another stretch of ramparts and moat trace around the reconstructed Heain Period village, taking an obtuse angle. These fortifications likely date to the same period and were maintained throughout.

The modern village of Hiraide is built up to the south of the site, and itself contains many beautiful traditional homes. Where the foothills start beyond here is nestled the Hiraide Museum. This area features a climbing kiln and a reconstruction of a Nara Period pit home. The museum exhibits many artifacts. The highlight is a Nara Period ceramic pagoda.


Castle Profile
English Name Hiraide Moated Settlement
Japanese Name 平出環濠集落
Founder The Jōmon; the Yayoi
Year Founded Jōmon Period; Yayoi Period
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Designations National Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Karabori, Dorui
Features trenches
Visitor Information
Access Shiojiri Station on the Chūō Main Line; 20 minute walk
Visitor Information 24/7; Free; Park
Time Required 60 minutes
Website https://hiraide.shiojiri.com/remains/
Location Shiojiri, Nagano Prefecture
Coordinates 36° 6' 10.84" N, 137° 56' 38.33" E
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Added to Jcastle 2021
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
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