Kakizakijō was constructed by the Kakizaki Clan in the Kamakura period. During the Nanbokuchō period, the Kakizaki Clan allied with the Northern Dynasty. Kakizakijō was attacked and conquered by the Kazama Clan of the Southern Dynasty. The North was ultimately victorious, however, allowing the Kakizaki to reclaim their main base.
In the Sengoku period the Kakizaki Clan were vassals of the Nagao Clan (Uesugi Clan). In 1578 chaos erupted with the unexpected death of Uesugi Kenshin. His two heirs, Kagekatsu (Takeda-backed) and Kagetora (Hōjō-supported), duked it out and Kagekatsu reigned victorious. During the Siege of Otate there was an incident at Sarugejō, a fortified redoubt of Kakizakijō, and it seems Kakizaki Haruie ordered an attack on allied forces. Although Haruie was censured, the Kakizaki were able to remain as a local clan. Kakizakijō mostly served as a base for administering territory, and it is speculated that it was never a highly defensible fort, but rather it was supplemented in its defence by Sarugejō, making Kakizakijō more like a hilltop kyokan (residence). Kakizakijō was abandoned by the Edo period.
Kakizakijō is a hilltop fortification site in the Kakizaki Ward of Jōetsu Municipality. Nothing much remains of Kakizakijō on-site today, but the bodaiji (ancestral clan temple) of the Kakizaki Clan, Ryōgonji, has a main gate which is said to have been the karametemon (rear gate) of the fort. This splendid gate is unique amongst relocated gates I’ve inspected in that it retains or at least now has a thatched roof. When I visited the thatching had recently been replaced and looked very fresh. Early medieval fortifications made extensive use of thatch-roofed structures, but these were replaced by more durable materials as time went on.
Sources differ on the accessibility of the Kakizakijō site proper and what remains there. The ruins of the fort were mostly destroyed during the construction of the Kakizaki Interchange on route E8. The access ramp wraps around the main part of the site, isolating it. There is a signboard with the castle’s name on visible from below. A path from the bottom of the hill appears to have been cut to allow access, and some pictures show an observation platform. I could only view the hilltop from directly below before moving on to the relocated gate, so I can’t confirm myself. Other bloggers report difficulty accessing the site; some say there are no ruins whilst others suggest that the main bailey is apparent; probably the hilltop is flattened then, but other earthworks have been lost.
|No main keep but other buildings
|Pre Edo Period
|Kakizaki Station on the Shin’etsu Line; 14 minute walk to trail
|Jōetsu, Niigata Prefecture
|37° 16' 17.40" N, 138° 23' 14.82" E
|Added to Jcastle
|Admin Year Visited
|Friends of JCastle