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, whose garrison was defeated in battle by the combined forces of Asai and Asakura in 1570. 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.
I would rate this castle ruin as a half-star site as there isn’t very much left to see. Only a few remnants of stone walls near the shores of Lake Biwa and a statue of Akechi Mitsuhide can be found at a park which is located at one of its former outer baileys. The park is next to Route 161 and about 200 metres from a MacDonalds restaurant. Also, there is a “Sakamoto Castle Ruin” stone monument placed about two hundred metres from the park (follow the canal from the park.) Access is either from Keihan Matsunobanba Station or JR Hiezansakamoto Station. It is around a 20 minute walk from either one of these stations. While Sakamoto Castle Ruin isn’t really worth a visit by itself, but when it is combined with a visit to see the Anou-shu Zumi stone walls in Sakamoto and a walk around Mt. Hie, it makes for a good day trip from Kyoto. If you ever wondered where Nobunaga and Hideyoshi’s castle builders came from, go to Sakamoto and see these stonemasons’ legacy. There are lots of ishigaki here and more than at many castle ruins in Japan. They are mainly located between 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|