Nanao Castle




The Hatakeyama built up and fortified Nanao Castle so that in its prime it was one of the 5 strongest mountaintop castles in Japan. Eventually the castle fell to Uesugi Shingen in 1577 after a long protracted battle. This battle escalated the fighting between Oda Nobunaga and Uesugi. After the Uesugi were defeated and Maeda Toshiie took control of this area he built a new castle in Nanao city, but instead of making use of the ruins of this Nanao Castle he built one at Komaruyama, closer to the city center. Recent excavations show that Nanao castle was even larger than previously believed and they are considering expanding the historical site.

Visit Notes

A very nice mountaintop ruin, signs and walking trails display all the major locations. You can easily see all the main structures of the castle and many stone walls remain. It's best to take a taxi and ask them to pick you up again in an hour or 2. There is a nice view from the Honmaru (central bailey) at the top so pack a lunch and enjoy the outdoors.

  • Stone walls
  • stone wall
  • stone walls
  • Honmaru
  • stone wall
  • Chodomaru
  • Ninomaru
  • castle map
  • stone wall
  • stone walls

Castle Profile
English Name Nanao Castle
Japanese Name 七尾城
Alternate Names Matsuo-jo
Founder Hatakeyama Mitsunori
Year Founded 1428/29 (?)
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Top 100 Castles, Top 100 Mountaintop Castles, National Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features stone walls
Visitor Information
Access Nanao Sta, Nanao Line; 5km (take a taxi)
Visitor Information
Time Required
Website miru.html:02
Location Nanao, Ishikawa Prefecture
Coordinates 37° 0' 31.14" N, 136° 59' 1.79" E
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Added to Jcastle 2006
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 2006
Admin Visits June 12, 2006

(5 votes)
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36 months ago
Score 0++

Nanaojō is a fairly well known mountaintop castle ruin. Nanaojō has an extensive footprint but it is easy to explore most of it by following the signs and trails. The ishigaki (stone-piled ramparts) at the site are incredible, as are the views. The presence of wild boars at the castle is a major problem as the beasts have demolished some of the ruins. I myself encountered several large boars when I was last in Noto - quite near to Nanaojō in fact.

Although Nanaojō had many annexes and sub-baileys, its integral baileys number four: Honmaru (main bailey), Nishinomaru (west bailey), Ninomaru (second bailey) and Sannomaru (third bailey). Much of the stone work is to be found around and below the honmaru area.


110 months ago
Score 0++
My wife and I finally made it to this castle after a few false starts because of bad weather for the previous times that we had planned to go. We went during Golden Week and had an absolutely perfect spring day for enjoying this mountaintop castle ruin. We took a taxi from Nanao Station up to the castle ruin. It cost about 2,500yen, so I reckon it must have been around a 7 to 8km ride. If you are driving up to Nanao Castle, there is a carpark with space for at least a dozen cars. There is also a modern toilet block opposite the carpark. This castle ruin certainly deserves its reputation as a highly rated yamajiro in Japan with the likes of Iwamura Castle, Takatori Castle, and Oka Castle. A free pamphlet (Japanese only) with a detailed map is available in a box at the entrance to this castle ruin. There is plenty of ishigaki to be found around the Main Bailey (Honmaru) and Sakurababa Bailey with a panoramic view of the Nanao Bay from the Honmaru. There are also earthwork remnants left including gate ruins, earthen embankments, and moats. All the major baileys are open to the public with easy paths, wooden stairs linking the Second Bailey with the Third Bailey, and sufficient signposts to know let where you are. In general, the castle site is fairly well maintained. According to our taxi driver, Nanao Castle has a festival on 13th September every year. This is the date when the Hatakeyama Clan lost the castle to Uesugi Kenshin after a long siege. After spending around 2.5 hours on site sussing out the stone walls and earthworks, we descended the mountain via the old Ote Trail. It’s only 1.5km and even including scrambling around and taking photos of the overgrown Bansho Bailey and Jisho Bailey further down the hill, it only took us around 30-ish minutes to get down to the trailhead. From there, it is roughly another 0.5km to the Nanao Castle Museum. At the museum, there are exhibits (outside the building) of mainly tiles found from archaeological digs on site. Also, there are just two wooden doors from one of the castle’s yakuimons (yukui-styled gate). Inside the museum, the highlight was a computer-generated virtual tour of what this sprawling castle complex looked like during the Sengoku Period. It looked like during the Sengoku Period, the whole mountain was covered with terraced baileys, and the “castle proper” accessible now is only a fraction of the “fortified town” of Nanao Castle. This CG video was only introduced from 2014. Entry to the museum cost 400yen which includes both the museum and a traditional house with a straw roof. A taxi back to Nanao Station from the Nanao Castle Museum cost about 1,300yen. Nanao Castle Ruin along with the castle museum is certainly worth at least two stars, but on the fine spring day with its fantastic view, it may be more enjoyable for a castle fan than just a two star rating.


129 months ago
Score 0++
Nanao Castle Museum at base is small but has a few nice pieces of excavated finds. The grass roofed building next to it has traditional furniture, household items and a painted scene of a castle encampment. Will need to return to better explore the ruins. Was very cold and windy on the path.