After annihilating the warrior monks of Hiezan in 1571, Oda Nobunaga ordered Akechi Mitsuhide to construct a castle at Sakamoto. Sakamoto Castle was a lakeside castle of strategic importance as it guarded the Western Omi Road, the road to the mountain pass into Kyoto from Omi (present day Shiga Prefecture), and it was also directly linked to Azuchi Castle by boats across Lake Biwa. It was also built to monitor the activities of the Enryakuji monks and to guard the western shores of southern Lake Biwa. Sakamoto Castle replaced nearby Usayama Castle. In 1586, four years after the death of Akechi Mitsuhide, this castle was dismantled and replaced by Otsu Castle as the local castle for controlling the area of southern Lake Biwa around Sakamoto and Otsu.
There is essentially nothing left of the castle to see today. There is a small castle park with a statue of Akechi Mitsuhide and some fake stone walls that were put up when the park was built but they are not remnants of the original stone walls and in fact the park is not even on the castle grounds.
In the fall of 2021, low rainfalls and few typhoons in 2021 caused the water level of Lake Biwa to drop, revealing some remnants of the honmaru stone walls that have been underwater for years. Those are the main photos you see below. This article from Shirobito shows the location of these stone walls on an illustration of the castle. There is also some stonework along one side of the Ryosha Shrine that is thought to be the edge of the Outer Bailey.
While Sakamoto Castle Ruin isn’t really worth a visit by itself, combined with a visit to see the Anou-shu Zumi stone walls in Sakamoto and a trip up Mt. Hiei to visit the Enryakuji Temple, it makes for a great day trip from Kyoto. If you ever wondered where Nobunaga and Hideyoshi’s castle builders came from, go to Sakamoto and see the stonemasons’ legacy. There are Many original stone walls here and more than at many castle ruins in Japan. They are mainly located between the Keihan Sakamoto Station and the cable car station up to Mt. Hie.
|English Name||Sakamoto Castle|
|Castle Condition||No main keep but other buildings|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Access||Hiezansakamoto Sta (JR Kosei Line) or Keihan Matsunobanba Sta.; 20 min walk|
|Visitor Information||free open park|
|Time Required||60 mins|
|Location||Otsu, Shiga Prefecture|
|Coordinates||35° 3' 35.75" N, 135° 52' 37.70" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2012|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed, 2021|
|Admin Visits||November 20, 2021|
|Friends of JCastle|
|Jokaku Horoki: Sakamoto-jo|
|Ken's Castle Storage: Sakamoto Castle|