Karatoriyajō was a satellite fortification of Aida-Kokuzōsanjō. For more info’ see: Aida Kokuzousan Castle.
Karatoriyajō is an outer fortification of the Aida-jōkangun, a complex of forts centred on Aida-Kokuzōsanjō. Unlike the others, Karatoryajō is on another mountain to the northwest of Mount Kokuzō. Karatoriyajō is an earthworks fort. It has a small main bailey. The ridges to the northeast and southwest are pitted with horikiri (trenches), and to the northwest there is a spur of small terraced baileys which climb up to the castle like a giant stairway. Anybody trying to assault this area would’ve been met with row after row of defenders which could fire projectiles over each other to hit the enemy. Since this is in the north it may have been anticipated, or hoped, that Uesugi forces would attack here along this easy-to-defend, hard-to-assault corridor. The ledges may have also hosted huts for the castle’s garrison, since the main bailey above is very small. I didn’t investigate what some believe to be ruins along the southeast ridge, as it’s by all accounts a tough climb with little to see. There is a depression here which some think was an area for mustering troops, but it’s unknown. A small flattened peak may have acted as a bulwark.
Karatoriyajō protects two passes, Hanagawara Pass to the east, and Tachi Pass to the west. I hiked to the castle mount via Tachi Pass. There was a flattened area there which once hosted a rest-house for travellers going between the mountain valleys and basins which make up this alpine area. Since the climb from the Hanagawara side is apparently quite arduous, I’d recommend taking the Tachi route to the castle site. Opposite the trail to the Tachi pass is another trail which grants access to Kokuzōsan. I’d already been up there so as to visit Utsutsujō and some other ruins. I actually climbed all the way back up to Kokuzōsanjō to appreciate the view, which is magnificent. Tree cover obstructs the view from Karatoriyajō, though Kokuzōsanjō can be seen looming above between the foliage.
In checking the readings for the above mentioned passes I came cross a site dedicated to mountain passes, ‘Tōge Oyaji’: https://tougeoyaji.ciao.jp/
|English Name||Karatoriya Castle|
|Year Founded||Kamakura Period|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Access||Bus from Matsumoto Station|
|Visitor Information||24/7 free; mountain|
|Time Required||60 minutes|
|Location||Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 22' 18.77" N, 138° 0' 24.95" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2023|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|
|Friends of JCastle|
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