Kokuzousan Castle (Murakami Clan Fort Network)
Kokuzōsanjō was built by Murakami Yoshikiyo to protect his territory from the encroachment of Takeda Shingen. Kokuzōsanjō, also known by the auspicious name Gotenjō, was the centrepiece of a network of fortifications covering the whole mountain. Along the ridge to the east Kokuzōsanjō was protected by the branch forts of Tsumijō and Kameijō, and along the ridge to the west were Takatsuyajō and Wagōjō. Beneath Kokuzōsanjō were the forts of Monomijō, Kemurinojō, and others. These sites together form a "pearl necklace" or chain of fortifications, called the Murakami Renju Toride (村上連珠砦, lit. Murakami Connected Pearl Forts) in Japanese, though this is probably a modern term.
Kokuzōsanjō was eventually taken by the Takeda Clan in the 1550s, but with their fall in 1582 it passed onto the Uesugi Clan as part of their peace deal with the Hōjō Clan. In 1583, in response to the construction of Uedajō by Sanada Masayuki, Uesugi Kagekatsu ordered Kokuzōsanjō and its branch forts occupied, and the reinforcement was led by Iwai Nobuyoshi, lord of Iiyamajō. Masayuki soon after switched allegiances from the Tokugawa to the Uesugi, leading to the First Battle of Ueda in 1585.
Kokūzōjō may as well have been Mount Doom. Even though I had already climbed so high, the ultimate peak still loomed far above. I determined I must go on. This part of the climb is the toughest. There are many "rope sections" and the trail is steep. The peak is mostly clear of trees and offers spectacular views. The layout of the castle is easy to appreciate in these conditions and the scenery is fantastic. The layout consists of a narrow streatch of baileys carved into the mountain ridge. It is embossed on both sides by long sub-baileys terraced into the mountainside. There are trenches such as horikiri which split the ridge, as well as tatebori (climbing moats), which streak down the mountainside. These trenches are the first one can see when entering the castle ruins, and, climbing up, they are followed by dorui (earthen ramparts), heaped up alongside boulders which stick out from the ridge; thereafter one has a view of the baileys, both below (koshiguruwa) and above (shukuruwa). The views are incredible and one can see Uedajō.
|English Name||Murakami Kokuzousan Castle|
|Year Founded||Sengoku Period|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Artifacts||Kuruwa, Dorui, Hori, Koshiguruwa|
|Access||Nishi-Ueda Station on the Shinano Railway; hiking course|
|Visitor Information||Free; 24/7; Mountain|
|Time Required||40 minutes|
|Location||Ueda, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 25' 47.93" N, 138° 13' 16.97" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2020|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|