Izumigashirajō is thought to have been built by the Hōjō Clan in the middle 16th century. The fort worked in conjunction with the nearby castles of Togurajō and Sanmaibashijō to defend Hōjō territory against the advances of the Takeda Clan. Takeda Katsuyori conquered the castles in 1581, however. After the fall of the Takeda Clan the Hōjō retook Izumigashirajō. Izumigashirajō last saw action during Toyotomi Hideyoshi's Odawara Campagin.
Related sites: Sunpu Castle
The site of Izumigashirajō is famous as a park with natural springs (the castle's name means 'Spring Head Castle'). It is said that Tokugawa Ieyasu temporarily had a residence here, but he decided to permanently retire at Sunpujō instead. The castle's ruins are not easy to identify, especially so because the fortification anyway made extensive use of natural terrain, using creeks as trenches. It was dusk when we visited and the bats were out, and I spent most of the dwindling daylight trying to take nice pictures of the springs which can be seen beneath the lake's surface bubbling away in pits of gravel and mud. The waters are blue-ish green and fat fish were feeding from moss on rocks surrounding the springs. I saw at least three springs at two sites. The park has a shopping area with historically attuned structures, and a trendy café sells coffee with boiled water from the springs. The park was awash with early blossoms when we visited. There's not much of the castle's ruins to see, which is probably for the best considering we visited late in the day, but if you're in Mishima then this is a lovely park to visit. It is part of a UNESCO-listed Geo-park.
|Pre Edo Period
|Mishima Station on the Kōzuke-Tōkyō Line; 35 minute walk
|Free; 24/7; Park; park facilities close around 5;30pm
|Mishima, Shizuoka Prefecture
|35° 6' 25.34" N, 138° 54' 6.41" E
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