Ina Yokokawa Castle
The history of Yokokawajō is sparse, but it is thought that it was a redoubt of the Ôniwa Clan, a clan perhaps related to the Ichikawa Clan from Ina. The Ôniwa Clan fell under the sphere of the Suwa Clan (there is a Suwa shrine located adjacent to the castle site, over a creek, but then Suwa shrines proliferate throughout Shinano), indicating that the clan may have been active in the area as early as the Kamakura period. The Battle of Yokokawa is presumed to have been centred around the castle, fought between the Ôniwa Clan and the hegemonic Ogasawara Clan. Yokokawajō then was caught up in the conflicts between the outgoing Kamakura Shogunate and incoming Ashikaga Shogunate, and may have aided Hōjō Tokiyuki during his flight to Shinano and been abandoned after his death in 1353.
Situated in Yokokawa, a diffuse, rural settlement in Tatsuno Municipality, Yokokawajō is an obscure fortification ruins site. Despite the obscurity of this castle, I was able to purchase a go’jōin (special seal) for it at the nearby Kayabuki no Yakata, a traditional inn in the village. The seal came in a set of six seals for castle ruins in Tatsuno Municipality, most of which I have now been to. I thought it novel that such a minor ruin would have such a seal, and it’s nice that some love is shown for these local sites.
Yokokawajō seems to have been a residential castle set on a mountainside overlooking the long valley which cradles Yokokawa. If the trees were maintained on the slope, then the fortified residence may have been hidden from below. Ruins include earthworks, principally dorui (earthen ramparts) and embankments, and carving and terracing of the hillside to create defences and enclosures. The centre of the site is that of a shrine which I had to step over a short electrified fence to begin climbing to. The shrine appears to sit in an old castle bailey, surrounded by traces of earthworks, and there is also a ditch to the rear and some terracing below. It’s hard to say exactly what ruins may be indicative of the castle, however, as the area may have been cultivated in subsequent centuries or developed for the shrine; an expansive flat area behind the shrine is now a cedar plantation. There is a small peak looming over the shrine, which is not reassuring when looking for fortifications, and so I checked the peak for ruins just to be sure but found nothing. The site reminds me of a more deformed or redeveloped version of Naraijō, another fortified residence site on a terraced plateau in the neighbouring valley, but more secluded. I can certainly believe a fortified residence stood here but its exact structure is difficult to determine.
|English Name||Ina Yokokawa Castle|
|Year Founded||Kamakura Period|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Artifacts||Dorui, Hori, Kirigishi, Kuruwa|
|Access||Shinano-Kawashima Station on the Chūō Main Line; 45 minute walk|
|Visitor Information||24/7; Free; Mountain / Shrine|
|Time Required||20 minutes|
|Location||Tatsuno, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 0' 46.51" N, 137° 55' 51.31" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2022|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|
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