Motosu Castle




Motosu Castle was built to protect the vital trade route between the Takeda's home territory in Kai Province and the Pacific Ocean via the Suruga Province. It was also the farthest reach of the Takeda's stable territory. The territory between here and the ocean was under their control at one point but under control of the Hojo or Imagawa at others. After the fall of the Takeda in 1582, the castle came under the control of the Tokugawa. After the pacification of this area, the trade route was still a vital commercial road into the interior of Japan so the fortifications at the base of the mountain were retained and used into the Edo Period. This makes it somewhat difficult to accurately date which parts are the original Takeda constructions or are Edo Period works. Either way, they are very unique and interesting ruins that I would consider fortifications and extended parts of the castle and defense of this trade route.

Visit Notes

This was a really interesting and fun castle ruin and probably one of a kind. The castle itself is a fairly typical borderland ridge line mountain castle, but the ruins of the structures around the base of the mountain are really impressive. First, this castle sits on the edge of the Aokigahara forest. This is a deep forest around the base of Mt. Fuji for several kilometers covered in thick trees and lava rock. The woods is very difficult to walk through except on cleared paths because of the fallen trees, roots and loose small lava rock everywhere.

This lava rock was used in the construction of several structures and stone walls around the base of the mountain and castle some of which we don't even know their use of today. There are sections of long stone walls, some ring formations and a couple gates. Across the road from the base of the mountain (at the bus stop) a stone wall goes at least 2km deep into the forest. I did not walk the entire wall, only about 1km but I would not mind going back again to explore even more.

It seems that the highly porous lava rock also makes for a good substrate for growing moss. Most of the stones have a thick covering of moss adding to the mysterious and somewhat spooky atmosphere. For such a unique and interesting site I'm really surprised it's not more well known.

The Lake Motosu tourist information center (April to October) has a model of the castle but I did not visit since it was November.

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Castle Profile
English Name Motosu Castle
Japanese Name 本栖城
Founder Takeda Shingen
Year Founded 1532-1555
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features trenches, stone walls
Visitor Information
Access Kawaguchiko Sta, Lake Motosu Sightseeing bus 46 mins to Sekirui Iriguchi bust stop (石塁入口).
Visitor Information Mountain trails, open any time
Time Required 240 mins
Location Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture
Coordinates 35° 28' 22.08" N, 138° 36' 29.16" E
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Added to Jcastle 2019
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 2018
Admin Visits November 23, 2018

(2 votes)
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7 months ago
Score 0++
This is a unique and special site. I'd give it 5 stars if they'd only cut trees some back on the yamajiro so that we could get a good look at Mount Fuji and Aokigahara.