Nechijō was located in a key strategic position on the borderlands between Shinano and Echigo. In 1565 Murakami Yoshikiyo was appointed as castellan by Uesugi Kenshin following the eviction of the Murakami Clan from their ancestral lands in Shinano. Murakami Yoshikiyo died in 1573 having never set foot in his old territory again. In 1578, as if to pester the dead, the Takeda Clan took possession of Nechijō during the Otate no Ran when the Uesugi Clan were distracted with in-fighting following the unexpected death of Uesugi Kenshin. The Uesugi, now under Uesugi Kagekatsu, were able to reclaim Nechijō in 1582 following the demise of Takeda Katsuyori. As a shijō (branch castle) of Kasugayamajō, Nechijō fell into the hands of the Hori Clan when Hori Hideharu was appointed ruler there by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Hori Kiyoshige became the castellan of Nechijō. He lost the castle the following year, however, in an Uesugi-loyalist rebellion in the province. Hori Kiyoshige regained control of Nechijō but by then the castle was considered anchronistic and at the beginning of the Edo period the Hori relocated to Kiyosakijō and Nechijō was abandoned.
Nechijō is a monster yamajiro ruin, and one of the largest such sites in Echigo Province / Niigata Prefecture (Echigo + Sado) after Kasugayamajō. The castle could perhaps be divided between upper and lower complexes which are connected via a fortified ridge leading on from the Hinomi-kuruwa. Each part consists of a vast array of terraced baileys and earthworks, and each features extensive terracing of the mountainside and fortified spurs to the southeast. In addition to this the castle has several satellite fortifications. Features found at Nechijō, known as the castle of Murakami Yoshikiyo, include kuruwa (baileys), koshikuruwa (sub-baileys), dan-kuruwa (climbing stair-like mini-baileys), dorui (earthen ramparts), ishigaki (stone walls), horikiri (trenches), tatebori (climbing moats) and other earthworks, such as platforms which may have been used for small towers.
There is a trail up to Nechijō from the east side behind a temple, Shōrenji (Murakami Yoshikiyo’s grave site is also found in Nechi Village but I didn’t have time to visit). The site is generally in a good state of maintenance (it is designated as a prefectural historical site), and the only difficult-to-traverse areas are the ridge spurs. These had camellia bushes growing on them at their prows (why there? Where the earth was banked?), and they pointed downward over the terraces for all the world like sakamogi (abatis)! It seems this castle ruin is growing its own defences. Nechijō and its sub-forts can occupy one for the better part of a day, and during my visit the autumn foliage was beautiful. Verily there I found myself in yamajiro paradise.
|English Name||Nechi Castle|
|Founder||Uesugi Clan; Murakami Yoshikiyo|
|Year Founded||Before 1565|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Designations||Prefectural Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Artifacts||Kuruwa (baileys), koshikuruwa (sub-baileys), dan-kuruwa (climbing stair-like mini-baileys), dorui (earthen ramparts), ishigaki (stone walls), horikiri (trenches), tatebori (climbing moats)|
|Features||trenches, stone walls|
|Access||Nechi Station on the Oh'ito Line; 10 minute walk to trailhead behind Shourenji|
|Visitor Information||24/7 free; mountain|
|Time Required||180 minutes|
|Location||Itoigawa, Niigata Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 57' 28.73" N, 137° 52' 7.86" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2021|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|
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