Iwadono Castle, Katsuyama Castle, Yamura Castle

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Iwadono Castle, Katsuyama Castle, Yamura Castle


The second update of my personal castle visits jumps from the first castle of 2020 back in time to the first castle visit of 2019, Iwadono Castle. This is a site I had wanted to visit for a long time, but I was waiting for a perfect weather winter day for the great views of Mt. Fuji. At some point the trails got closed due to erosion from heavy rains and my wait extended to a couple years. Unfortunately, in August 2019 the trails were again closed due to a rockslide and remain closed today. See the Iwadono Castle profile for more details. I was very lucky to visit when I did and get these great photos of both the castle ruins and Mt. Fuji.

From Iwadono, I also visited nearby home castle of the Oyamada family, Yamura Castle and it's mountain fortress, Katsuyama Castle just across the river.


Iwadono Castle / 岩殿城


Mt. Iwadono has suffered a lot of damage from typhoons, heavy rains, and rock slides the past few years. I had been waiting for a good cold winter day to visit for a couple years but the main trails had been closed for some time. I finally got my chance in January 2019 for my first castle visit of the new year. The castle remains are very interesting and unique in how they use natural boulders and also cut into the cliff face to create gates and defenses. There are also stunning views of Mt. Fuji along the way and from the top of the mountain. Enjoying such a great view every day, the Oyamada may have had an over-inflated ego or sense of their own power.

As of May 2020, all accessible routes to the top of the mountain are closed again. Due to a rock slide, the trails have been closed since August 2019 again. There are other long and difficult mountaineering trails from other directions that will take you to the top but they are only recommended for at least intermediate level mountain climbers (not just intermediate level hikers) including areas with chains and ladders to scale the boulders. If you are interested in visiting, check the website or contact the Otsuki Tourism Association for the current conditions before planning your trip.

The Fureai-no-yakata (yagura looking building) near the base of the mountain is open every day except Mondays. It has a nice view of Mt. Fuji and displays photos from local photographers. They also have maps of the castle and information about the hiking trails, but the trails from here to the top of the mountain and castle ruins are currently closed.
Katsuyama Castle (Tsuru) / 勝山城


I visited Katsuyama Castle after Iwadono Castle, a few stops earlier on the train line from Tokyo. It's about a 10 min walk from the station. Along the way you'll cross a bridge over the Katsura River which creates an additional natural defense as well. This is a very easy castle to visit and highly recommended if you are in the area. The site is well kept and offers some nice views of the valley. The north side of the Honmaru actually has some stonework that is likely from when the Asano renovated the castle. It should also be visited with Yamura Castle, even though there is not much to be seen. The two create a typical Sengoku Period mountaintop castle and foothills fortified palace combination.
Yamura Castle / 谷村城


The school grounds occupy much of what was the former Yamura Castle. Unfortunately, there are no significant remains to be seen today but excavations have uncovered stone work and a well on the school grounds. Yamura Castle is just a few minutes walk from the station and should be visited with Katsuyama Castle, the mountain redoubt of Yamura Castle. The hill in the background I s actually Katsuyama Castle. There is a better picture below showing this.
Yamura Jin'ya / 谷村陣屋


There is really nothing to see here besides the commemorative pillar located at a corner in front of the family courthouse. If you're visiting the area Katsuyama Castle should be your goal. This is just a complementary site of interest to the history of Yamura Castle and Katsuyama Castle.
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19 months ago
Score 0++
Not sure what i voted for but i voted!