Ogawa Nishinojo Castle (Koka)

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Given the size, location, and the yakatajiro in the middle of Ogawa Nishinojo Castle, this was likely the main home of the Tarao clan, not the previously covered Ogawa Castle which was more of a mountaintop redoubt and watchtower from which lookouts would have had commanding views in all directions. Now, with that in mind, let's go back to the history of Ogawa Castle and its famous guest. Did Ieyasu stay the night at Ogawa Castle on top of the mountain, or did he stay here in much more comfort at the Tarao's home. Should this actually be called Ogawa Castle and Ogawa Castle called Ogawa Yamajiro? You be the judge.

Visit Notes

The last in the Ogawa chain of castles is Ogawa Nishinojo Castle. These castles are generally introduced with Ogawa Castle, but it is most likely that Ogawa Nishinojo Castle was the most important of the three including Ogawa Nakanojo Castle.

I thought this was going to be a quick stop at the castle ruins behind the Seikoji temple on the way to catch the bus, but the castle goes on and on with trenches and earthen embankments marking off layers of baileys around the castle. The baileys are often quite overgrown (even in winter) and hard to see but the trenches certainly make up for it. I missed my bus and would have had to wait over 2 hours for the next one so I called a taxi which was fortunately not as expensive as I anticipated and saved me walking a few km back to the station on weary legs.

Behind the Seikoji Temple, the first bailey you will find looks astonishingly like a typical yakatajiro found in Koka. High earthen embankments and a trench surround a roughly 50m square bailey on the end of the ridge. On the eastern side, is a side bailey with similar embankments and trenches just like other Koka yakatajiro. It is likely that this portion was built by the Tsurumi, the predecessors of the Tarao clan. The Tarao then built out successive layers of baileys along with fortifying Ogawa Nakanojo Castle and Ogawa Castle.

On a side note, while I was at the site a group of workmen came and were clearing bamboo and putting stakes in the ground like they were possibly surveying the site. They kept looking at me funny so I walked up and said hi and asked if they were preserving the site. They kind of laughed and showed me where they were going to build a fence through part of the main bailey and cutting off the second bailey. The purpose was to keep wild boars from running into town from this area. So, be warned, you might not be able to see everything in the future!

Shigaraki is also famous for pottery and particularly those little tanuki statues you see around Japan. Just walking/riding through town you will see them everywhere. Just outside the station is probably the biggest tanuki of them all and the platform inside the station is lined with dozen of the ceramic critters too. Given more time, it might have been a fun town to walk around, not just visiting castles.

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Castle Profile
English Name Ogawa Nishinojo Castle (Koka)
Japanese Name 小川西ノ城
Founder Tarao
Year Founded 14th C.
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, 20 min walk
Visitor Information Mountain, open 24/7
Time Required 75 mins
Website https://www.biwako-visitors.jp/spot/detail/4014/
Location Koka, Shiga Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 50' 49.24" N, 136° 1' 50.09" 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

(2 votes)
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12 months ago
Score 0++

This castle ruin is certainly bigger than Ogawa Castle up on the mountain. However, Ogawa Nishino Castle is also much more overgrown that Ogawa Castle, but there are some nice earthwork remnants that can be made out including ditches, earthen ramparts, and sites of gateways. Unlike like Eric, my wife and I did not fully explore Ogawa Nishino Castle as we were running short of time, and after flicking ticks off our legs, we thought it was best to hit the third castle in the area, Ogawa Nakano Castle.

Putting up an electric fence to keep out wild animals means it will be harder for castle fans to visit this ruin unless they put in a gate to allow visitors to get into the fenced off parts of the castle ruin. I’m glad I’ve made it here before they put up the fence.


12 months ago
Score 0++
haha, also very true. For the sake of transparency, in one place along the far ridge I was wading through weeds as tall as I am and once I was seeing stars after banging my head on a partially fallen tree while trying to keep my eyes on where I was walking with my feet rather than what was in front of me! I was perhaps lucky not to end up with any ticks or other critters on me but my rain jacket and wide brim hiking hat probably helped.


12 months ago
Score 0++
Eric, my wife and I gave up in going into the bushier baileys of this castle ruin after finding ticks there in the relatively clearer baileys of this yamajiro ruin. You’re hardcore to be waddling through head-high bamboo and weeds to get to those baileys further at the back end of this castle. That’s why you’re the JCastle Shogun. There are a few fallen trees on site, so I assume they are probably the result of the direct typhoon strike on Kansai back in the autumn of 2018. Yeah, I have whacked my head a couple of times in the past on low hanging tree branches when going off the beaten path to explore castle ruins, particularly when you have to crawl under or climb over fallen trees.