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.
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.
|English Name||Ogawa Nishinojo Castle (Koka)|
|Year Founded||14th C.|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Designations||Prefectural Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Access||Shigaraki Sta (Shigaraki Kogen Railway Line); 10 min bus, 20 min walk|
|Visitor Information||Mountain, open 24/7|
|Time Required||75 mins|
|Location||Koka, Shiga Prefecture|
|Coordinates||34° 50' 49.24" N, 136° 1' 50.09" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2023|
|Admin Year Visited||2023|
|Admin Visits||March 12, 2023|
|Friends of JCastle|