Kiso Fukushima Castle
Fukushima Castle was built by Kiso Yoshiyasu in the 1530s, intended as a mountain redoubt to retreat to from his main base at Uenodan Castle, built in 1509. In 1555 Takeda Shingen invaded Kiso and Kiso Yoshiyasu eventually surrendered. His son, Kiso Yoshimasa, was wedded to Shingen's daughter, Mari-hime, to cement their new alliance. The Kiso subsequently aided the Takeda in their invasions of Shinano, Mino and Hida. The Oda ultimately defeated the Takeda and the Kiso submitted to Oda Nobunaga. When Oda Nobunaga was killed in 1582, however, a power vacuum was created in Shinano. Kiso Yoshimasa attacked Mori Nagaka, but Mori forces were able to break into Fukushima Castle and make off with Yoshimasa's young son to use as a hostage. Yoshimasa entered into an alliance with Tokugawa Ieyasu to secure Chikuma (including Kiso) and Azumi (to the north), but severed their alliance in preference of following Toyotomi Hideyoshi. In response Tokugawa ordered his vassals in Shinano, such as Hoshina Masano, Suwa Yoritada and Suganuma Sadatoshi, to attack Yoshimasa but they were repulsed at Tsumago Castle. Ogasawara Sadayoshi, lord of Matsumoto Castle, was able to invade Kiso, however, in 1584 with the help of Nibekawa Matabei, and Yoshimasa fled. Fukushima Castle was abandoned at this time.
Kiso-Fukushimajō was the third yamajiro (mountain castle) site I visited in Kiso, after Kiso-Komaruyamajō and Uenodanjō, and it is the best preserved of the three, being located high up on a mountain overlooking the others. The castle ruins consist of three kuruwa (baileys) arranged in a row, a layout known as renkaku-shiki. Each bailey has steep earthen embankments forming the ramparts and is separated by dry moats (horikiri (trenches) trailing off into tatebori (climbing moats)). Around the ichinokuruwa (main bailey) is an obikuruwa (belt bailey), and another koshikuruwa (hip bailey) partially surrounds the ninokuruwa (second bailey). The sannokuruwa (third bailey) is small without sub-baileys around it. Many sub-baileys extend beyond the ichinokuruwa, protecting the castle's mountainside flank. These pocket baileys terrace the mountain slope as it descends. The trail here leads to the site of a waterfall. Both trails lead back to town but I came and went by the more direct one, taking a shortcut from the daikansho (Yamamura-daikan'yashiki). The trails are well maintained for the most part, though the aforementioned shortcut to the daikansho has some narrow parts with rocks and trees across. The castle ruin's such as moats and baileys are signposted (in Japnese only). The castle itself is signposted from the hiking trail, so one should have no problem finding and exploring this site, an example of a basic Sengoku Period yamajiro.
|English Name||Kiso Fukushima Castle|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Artifacts||Horikiri, Tatebori, Kuruwa, Dorui, Obikuruwa, Koshikuruwa, Ido-ato|
|Access||Kiso-Fukushima Station on the Chūō Line; 15 minute walk to trail head; 20-30 minute climb|
|Visitor Information||Free; 24/7; Mountain|
|Time Required||60 minutes|
|Location||Kiso, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||35° 51' 17.46" N, 137° 41' 39.55" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2020|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|