Ogawa Castle (Koka)

From Jcastle.info



Ogawa Castle has a typical mountaintop castle design with multiple baileys along the ridge with commanding views of the valley. Among the hundreds of castles in Koka, including nearby castles of the Tarao clan, Ogawa Castle does not fit with the typical yakatajiro profile. It is likely that it was built in the mid 1500's to help the Tarao fortify this end of the valley

Ogawa Castle's claim to fame is that Tokugawa Ieyasu spent one night here during his flight from Sakai to Mikawa after the death of Oda Nobunaga (called the Iga Crossing). He was too scared with what the world would become after Mitsuhide's betrayal that he fled back home to regroup and see how things would play out before making his own moves. During this flight the Tarao escorted Tokugawa Ieyasu to the Iga border. For this service the Tarao were later granted a magistrate position which they held until the end of the Edo Period.

Visit Notes

This one was not even very high on my radar despite putting together the Koka Castles article a year earlier, but RaymondW who visited Ogawa Castle earlier this year (2023) reached out to say that I absolutely had to prioritize this above any other current castle plans because it was so good. Well, the site did not disappoint! The castle offers both stunning views and fantastic castle ruins. It's a brilliantly designed small castle just covering the top of the mountain with with steeps sides and beautifully preserved earthen embankments and trenches. One of the baileys also has some stone wall ruins and the foundation stones of a building.

Just before the main sign and entrance to the castle there is a small trail that cuts down steeply and narrowly from the castle. This trail actually takes you down to a side bailey and continuing down the ridge from here you will find a subsidiary castle called Ogawa Nakanojo Castle. See Ogawa Nakanojo Castle for more details.

Walking up the main road and fire trail to get to Ogawa Castle is fairly easy, but there was one area where there was a lot of noise in the trees above me and a branch fell near me, then another, and another. Looking up, there was some crazed cackling monkey throwing branches down at me. So, if you go, be careful of crazy monkeys too!


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Castle Profile
English Name Ogawa Castle (Koka)
Japanese Name 小川城
Founder Tarao clan
Year Founded mid 1500s
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Prefectural Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features trenches
Visitor Information
Access Shigaraki Sta (Shigaraki Kogen Railway Line); 10 min bus, 35 min walk
Visitor Information Mountain, open 24/7
Time Required 45 mins
Website https://www.shiga-ec.ed.jp/www/contents/1438304524592/html/common/other/55d173d3052.pdf
Location Koka, Shiga Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 50' 37.32" N, 136° 2' 3.84" E
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Collections Koka Castles
Added to Jcastle 2023
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 2023
Admin Visits March 12, 2023
Friends of JCastle
Jokaku Horoki
Shiro Expo in Shiga

(2 votes)
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13 months ago
Score 1++

@Eric, the JCastle Shogun works fast.

It’s great to see the Ogawa Castle profile along with Ogawa Nakano Castle and Ogawa Nishino Castle profiles up on JCastle so soon after your visit a few months ago. I’m glad you have made it up to this yamajiro. I have known about this yamajiro for years but have put off going there by how weedy and overgrown it looks in some photos online. Also, as you have mentioned in your notes, it is an inconvenient site to get to, particularly for castle fans living outside of Shiga. However, I decided to give it a go during prime yamajiro season earlier in the year and was blown away by how clear it was in the weeks before the cherry blossom season. Someone has been applying a lot of tender loving care to transform this site. Eric, that’s why I e-mailed you and highly recommended that you prioritize this yamajiro and head up there before the weeds and ferns take over again.

The profile here is detailed and informative, and there is nothing that I can add to it as you have done a superb job of putting together another excellent set of castle profiles (about the three related Ogawa castle ruins) to add to your growing folio of Koga (Koka) castle profiles.

I like your idea about how Ogawa Nishino Castle could have been the main castle, while the other two offered some kind of protective screen / lookout / citadel for the main castle. It makes sense as Ogawa Nishino Castle is significantly bigger than the other two.

For castle fans who have already visited the well-known castles in Shiga, I recommend visiting lesser-known castles like Ogawa Castle, Tsuchiyama Castle, Kozutsumishiroyama Castle, and Takekurabe Castle (not listed on Jcastle.) Not all the yamajiros in Shiga are in the same condition as portrayed in the photos here of Ogawa Castle in early 2023. Some of mountaintop castles in Shiga can be heavily overgrown and inaccessible. Let’s hope they keep on maintaining this castle site and keep it like in the photos rather than let it regress into heavily overgrown baileys with undergrowth left unchecked.