Kinowa Castle


KinowaSaku (2).JPG


The remains of Kinowa Castle were unearthed in 1931. It is thought that Kinowa-no-ki became the site of the provincial capital of Dewa following the abandonment of Akita Castle in 1050. Kinowa-no-saku was a large fortress, with inner walls around 115m in length in a square configuration, and outer perimeter sides over 700m in length. The site was maintained as a history park from 1984, and the walls and gates of the main enclosure were partially restored.

Visit Notes

Kinowa(-no)-saku / Kinowa-no-ki is a partially reconstructed jōsaku site between the villages of Kinowa and Tamada in Sakata Municipality. The site is a well-maintained history park. Restored structures include two gatehouses and attached segments of tsujibei walls. Tsujibei walls are made from pounding layers of earth within a wooden and bamboo trellis frame, sometimes finished with a stucco whitewash. These types of walls were often constructed at jōsaku.

Jōsaku were flatland, walled forts built from the Nara period by the Yamato to subjugate the Emishi, the northern peoples of Honshū. The Yamato were successful in their mission to spread the frontiers of the children of the sun goddess throughout the Japanese archipelago. The Emishi no longer exist as a distinct people, but their greatest legacy arguably came later in the 11th century with the rise of Fujiwara Kiyohara, the half-blood prince of Hiraizumi, whose dynasty ruled Tōhoku until the end of the Heian period.

The reconstructions at Kinowa-saku, the name of which appears to be an allusion to castle baileys, are based to some extent on extant architecture found at temples in Nara since no contemporary jōsaku structures survive.

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  • View of restored gatehouse from within bailey
  • Gate and walls from without
  • Tsujibei walls
  • Ishibumi (stone marker) for castle

Castle Profile
English Name Kinowa Castle
Japanese Name 城輪柵
Founder Yamato Kingdom
Year Founded 1050
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Designations National Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features gates, walls
Visitor Information
Access Motate Station on the Uetsu Main Line; 35 minute walk
Visitor Information Open 24/7; free (park)
Time Required 40 minutes
Location Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture
Coordinates 38° 57' 49.43" N, 139° 54' 33.34" E
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Added to Jcastle 2023
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
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