Ou Castle (Ina)
Ōjō is thought to have been a satellite fortification of Ryūgasakijō across the valley, though it itself had several branch forts. See my profile on Ina Ryuugasaki Castle for more information.
After first visiting Akiba Fort I continued climbing on to Ōjō, rendered either 王城 ("King Castle") or 大城 ("Big Castle"), which are pseudo-homophones. The climb is very easy as the trail is well marked. There is a sunken pathway in parts which was probably the original path to the castle. I followed the top of the ridge in parts, eschewing the path, for a bit of a challenge. The day had been forecast as murky, but when I arrived in Tatsuno it was redders, as my people would say. The fine weather had brought out various people into nature, and I found Ōjō's main bailey to be the convergent point of a popular hiking area. Plus, being accessible by car, many people had driven or climbed to the area to camp and piquenique, enjoying views of the Upper Ina Valley spread below.
As for Ōjō itself, the earthworks castle ruin has a simplistic layout, consisting of one central bailey wrapped around by an obikuruwa (belt bailey). A couple of tatebori (climbing trenches) streak down the mountain from here. Additionally there are a two fortified spurs going east and west along the mountaintop. The western spur has minor baileys divided by horikiri (trenches) and tatebori. The eastern spur has some deformed dorui (earthen ramparts). I noticed some evidence of terracing and trenches on the climb up alongside the Ôte (main trail), so maybe this was an extended part of the castle too. The best thing about Ōjō was probably the view, though the main bailey is satisfying because it is well maintained, including the kirigishi (mountainside carved into castle walls) above the obikuruwa.
|English Name||Ina Ou Castle|
|Year Founded||Medieval Era|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Artifacts||Shukuruwa, Kuruwa, Obikuruwa, Dorui, Tatebori, Horikiri|
|Access||Tatsuno Station on the Chūō East Line; 20 minute walk to trail head; 25 minute climb|
|Visitor Information||24/7; Free; Mountain|
|Time Required||60 minutes|
|Location||Tatsuno, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||35° 59' 34.26" N, 137° 59' 41.75" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2021|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|
|Friends of JCastle|