Nagurumi Castle




Originally a fortification on this site was built by the Numata in defense of Numata Castle. The present fortifications date to Sanada Masayuki who fortified them to launch his attacks on Numata Castle. As an ally of the Takeda, Sanada Masayuki took control of the area by taking Iwabitsu Castle, Nagurumi Castle and finally Numata Castle in 1580. This area was heavily disputed between the Sanada and the Hojo until 1589 when Hideyoshi ended hostilities by giving the area, including Nagurumi Castle, to Sanada and the remainder to the Hojo. This decision did not sit well with the Hojo commander Inomata Kuninori who attacked and took Nagurumi Castle in late 1589. This was the famous spark that set off Hideyoshi's campaign to end the Hojo. Hideyoshi defetaed the Hojo the following year (1590) thus unifying all Japan. The Sanada were given Numata castle and Nagurumi was abandoned.

Visit Notes

The castle was significantly restored for the 2016 Taiga Drama Sanadamaru. The the wooden palisades were built, earthen embankments restored, and many new signs added to make this a most enjoyable site to visit in Gunma. It can easily be combined with nearby Ogawa Castle, Numata Castle, Shiroi Castle. Nagurumi Castle is built atop a steep mountain overlooking the Tone River. Across the river and about 5km away is Numata Castle. If you were to attack Nagurumi Castle from Numata or across the river it would be almost unassailable given the steep cliffs protecting it. However, from the opposite side, the castle is actually more like a flatland castle. If you visit the castle I recommend you pay attention to this unique aspect too. It's also interesting that Numata Castle is built atop a mountain across the other side of the river. I can just imagine the rivals looking out over the Tone River valley at each other.

I biked from the Jomokogen Shinkansen Station to Nagurumi Castle and then on to Numata Castle. You could also walk from the Jomokogen shinkansen stop. It's just a few minutes more walking but it's mostly flat and would allow you to stop by Ogawa Castle along the way. As a Shinkansen stop there are also several taxis waiting that could take you to Nagurumi Castle to save time too. The visitor center has a diorama and several good maps of the castle and brochures for nearby castles and historical sites.


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Castle Profile
English Name Nagurumi Castle
Japanese Name 名胡桃城
Founder Numata Kagefuyu
Year Founded around 1492-1501
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Next 100 Castles, Prefectural Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features trenches
Visitor Information
Access Gokan Sta. (Joetsu Line); 40 min walk
Visitor Information Park, open any time; visitor center open 9:00-16:00, closed Dec. 29 - Jan. 3
Time Required 45 mins
Location Minakami, Gunma Prefecture
Coordinates 36° 40' 9.12" N, 138° 59' 27.06" E
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Added to Jcastle 2013
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 2013, 2021
Admin Visits Apr 29, 2013; Jun 13, 2021
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(2 votes)
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8 months ago
Score 0++
08/05/2023. After Numata castle, I visited this site. Since the Taiga Drama about the Sanada maru, this site benefitted from it. The baileys have been cleared and are easy to recognize due to some pavement and rails delimiting the different kuruwa. The information buiding has some nice maps and a model of the site. I took a taxi from Numata castle to this site(2850yen).


32 months ago
Score 0++

Sure is different now! My commentary:

Nagurumijō is fantastic and I can't sing its praises higher. There are no structures except for a reconstructed bridge, and the castle site consists chiefly of the ruins of earthworks fortifications - with some stone walls. All trees have been cut back to show the earthworks, and the site is open and clear. Now, if only every site like this was so well maintained we would never be disappointed. At one point two sets of stairs dipped in and out of a large trench bisecting the ridgeline. What luxury! At most sites this would be a cluttered ditch choked with fallen trees that I'd risk life and limb to plunge into and crawl out of. In that case a rope would be a blessing, but a platform with stairs -- wow. Some people don't know they're born, eh! So, Nagurumijō is a masterclass in good site maintenance. That said, it is not so pruned as to be completely without its own individuated charm, as many of the baileys are full of graceful poppy flowers.

The layout of the site is made up at the core of a series of baileys arranged in "ladder formation" along a ridge. The main bailey is accessed in this way via the second bailey and the third bailey. The third bailey has a prominent barbican complex attached. Beyond the main bailey is a smaller bailey, the Sasa-kuruwa, which overlooks the plain. Many smaller baileys strut down the hillside here, but access is restricted. Adjacent to the main area of the castle across a natural creek is a very spacious bailey. This is now the site's parking area. Given the time of year I stuck to these main well kempt areas, but there are a host of outer baileys located "inland" of the plain, including a detached outer bailey. Perhaps I'll come again to this fine site and take the time to explore everything.