Sakurabora Castle


SakuraborajouChris (11).jpg


Sakurabora Castle (桜洞城) was a medieval castle built in Gero, Gifu Prefecture. It was constructed in 1544 by the rulers of Hida Province, the Anekoji clan, before beginning construction on Matsukura Castle, intending it as the new home for the Anekoji. From the start of construction until the Anekoji clan could be installed into the new castle, Sakurabora served as Anekoji Yoritsuna's seat of power. Thereafter, once the clan was established in Matsukura Castle, the Anekoji used Sakurabora as their winter home. The castle is built on high ground to the south of the point where the Sakuradani River joins the Hida River. The hill top itself is now rice fields, and most has fallen into disrepair.

According to a castle map published in the 18th century “Historical Records of Hida", Sakurabora was 144 meters east-west and 180 meters north-south. It was surrounded by dry moats, including twin dry moats to the north and east. The shape of the castle, according to the map, suggests the remains were a residence, and it is probable that there was another facility, a mountain castle, in the near vicinity, but this has not yet been identified.

As mentioned, it was the residence of Anekoji Yoritsuna (aka Miki Jitsuna) the master of Hida, until Matsukura Castle was built in 1579 and the Anekoji clan moved their residence there, after which Sakurabora became a branch castle of Matsukura Castle (aka Natsu-Jo, the Summer Castle) and Yoritsuna's son, Nobutsuna, became its lord. Nobutsuna was later lured to his death at Matsukura Castle having been suspected of treason. The subsequent commander of the castle is unknown, but Sakurabora was used as a winter stronghold, hence being known as the Winter Castle. Sakurabora Castle was attacked by Kanamori Nagachika in 1585 and fell. The castle was abandoned when Hagiwarasuwa Castle was completed a few kilometers away.

Visit Notes

The site is not well signposted. Seeking the actual site there was a nearby mountain to the south above the main road that I initially thought might have been the castle site. Perhaps it is the site of the suspected mountain castle facility, as it is the closest and highest point. Eventually I found the actual site with a small wooden signpost proclaiming it the site of Sakurabora Castle.

On the slopes above the JR Takayama Main Line tracks that pass through the site to the west is a large dorui (earthen embankment), overlooking a deep karabori (dry moat) running about 35m (my guesstimate) north south, with a 90 degree right turn at the northern end, and another 10m section of karabori. North of this, the site suddenly drops down towards the Sakuradani River. Along the path leading to the main site are traces of low ishigaki. The southern end of the karabori has what appears to be a yagura site. The raised corner section is littered with loose rocks which may have been ishigaki.

To the east of the karabori northern sections along the ridge above the Sakuradani River is a long section of dorui, with low ishigaki, probably serving as a retaining wall, along the base.

Although Sakurabora Castle seems to have been a large and important site, very little information and ruins remain.

Profile by Chris Glenn (edited by ART).

  • Part of the dorui and ishigaki at the nothern end corner of the karabori (left).
  • Dorui
  • Sakurabora Castle marker.
  • Northernmost slopes of Sakurabora Castle. The river is to the left, castle site upper right. This path is lines with what appears to have been ishigaki.
  • Part of the karabori on the western side of Sakurabora Castle. On the other side, the mountain drops around 20m to the train tracks below.
  • North eastern dorui of Sakurabora Castle. The hillside opposite these embankments drops around 20m to the Sakuradani River below.
  • Eastern dorui, facing west. Castle residence space to the left, slope down to the river to the right, straight ahead in the copse of trees are the karabori and other dorui.
  • North eastern dorui, looking east. Residence area, now fields to the right, the left drops down to the Sakuradani River.
  • Sakurabora Castle ruins seen across the fields. The fields were the site of the main yashiki residence
  • More distinct ishigaki on the north face.
  • Former ishigaki along the northernmost face above the Sakuradani River.

Castle Profile
English Name Sakurabora Castle
Japanese Name 桜洞城
Founder Anekoji Clan
Year Founded 1544
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Local Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Dorui, Karabori, Ishigaki
Features trenches, stone walls
Visitor Information
Access Hida-Hagiwara Sation on the Takayama Line; 15 minute walk
Visitor Information 24/7 free; mountain
Time Required
Location Gero, Gifu Prefecture
Coordinates 35° 52' 51.96" N, 137° 12' 39.78" E
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Added to Jcastle 2022
Contributor 豪谷
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed

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