Kaminoyama Castle

From Jcastle.info



Kaminoyama Castle is built on a critical highway between Yonezawa and Yamagata. It was a focal point of the skirmishes between the Date in Yonezawa and Mogami of Yamagata. In the Edo Period the Toki clan was stationed here and the castle was well developed. In 1692 when the Toki clan we reassigned the castle was considered to be too extravagant for such a small fiefdom so the castle was dismantled. After the Toki, the Kanamori and then a Matsudaira clan becomes lords of Kaminoyama but the castle was never rebuilt despite many petitions to the bakufu.

Visit Notes

The mock main keep is nothing like the main keep that would have stood here and it's even in the wrong place. The main reason to visit this castle is to see the 4 samurai homes behind it. The museum is a nice local history museum and the top offers nice views of the valley but it is light on castle information. You could skip it if you don't have time.

Kaminoyama is also conveniently located between Yamagata and Yonezawa and has some hot springs. I used this as my base for 2 days of castle exploring between Yamagata and Yonezawa. The ruins of the mountaintop castle, Takadate Castle, can also be found on the mountain behind Kaminoyama Castle but I did not have time to visit on this trip.

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Castle Profile
English Name Kaminoyama Castle
Japanese Name 上山城
Alternate Names Tsukioka-jo
Founder Takenaga Yoshitada
Year Founded 1535
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition Reconstructed main keep
Historical Period Edo Period
Main Keep Structure 3 levels, 4 stories
Year Reconstructed 1982 (concrete)
Features main keep, gates, turrets, samurai homes, stone walls, walls
Visitor Information
Access Kaminoyama Onsen Station (Oou Honsen), 15 minute walk
Visitor Information open 9am-4:45pm; closed 12/29-12/31; check the website for other closed days. 410 yen admission
Time Required 30 mins; 60 mins with samurai homes
Website http://kaminoyama-castle.info
Location Kaminoyama, Yamagata Prefecture
Coordinates 38° 9' 28.30" N, 140° 16' 33.31" E
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Added to Jcastle 1999
Admin Year Visited 1997, 2017
Admin Visits October 1997; November 2, 2017
(12 votes)
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23 months ago
Score 0++
When I visited Kaminoyama I had a lot of fun visiting the samurai homes, but the weather was not clement. I'd like to go back under better atmospheric auspices. Also, with some more knowledge and a better camera too. I went to Kaminoyama in 2016, and on the topic of bukeyashiki (samurai homes) at that time I was still rather green. My own notes being insufficient, I am reliant here on Eric Obershaw's website: his Samurai Residence feature, introduced early last year, I have found incredibly useful!


41 months ago
Score 1++
For information - the roof of this castle is being repaired and the entire structure is covered in scaffolding. There is a full-size screen on the front with a picture of the castle - think of the way Himeji looked for years, but on a much smaller scale! Repairs are expected to be completed in “about a year” according to Tourist Information. That would make it around April 2019. The museum inside can still be visited while the repairs are taking place.


41 months ago
Score 0++
wow, I was lucky to visit just a few months ago then. Thanks for the update!


77 months ago
Score 0++

After Yamagatajô i went to this castle. The entrance is under repair, but you still can take some nice pictures of the tenshukaku. It's a nice museum inside and there are now a lot of english explanations as Kris tend to say there weren't when he visited. I confirm, there are a lot stairs ;-)

This castle is only to visit if you are in the vicinity.


110 months ago
Score 0++
Kaminoyama is a pleasant place to stay in Yamagata – it has a triple heritage as a castle town, an onsen town and an inn town and the three kind of blend into each other, so one moment the road is where the old moat was, the next it follows the old highway and then leads up to the onsen areas. We stayed the night at an onsen hotel that had a view of the castle from the open air bath on the roof. The castle is lit up at night so even at night there is still a good view. There is a hot spring foot bath right next to the keep if you don't have time for the onsen. I went during Summer holidays so the castle was the focal point of summer activities for kids – they had tents with activities for children like making a magatama or whittling pieces of wood. My favourite was the archery range they had set up on the hillside right next to the castle main entrance where aspiring young yumi ashigaru could take shots at cut-out rabbits, pheasants, deer and wild boar. I really heart the people of Kaminoyama who organised this. The castle reconstruction does oddly resemble a chibi-robot ashigaru of sorts – (see the top two windows as eyes and the gable underneath as a moustache) – but it is more remarkable inside as it only has two floors and a lot, yes, a lot of stairs in between them. Also, the explanations are largely in Japanese and German, the lord of the castle is referred to as Herr von Kaminoyama throughout. From here we went to nearby Hasedo-jo, and then to Yamagata.