Saruga Castle (Chikuma)




Saruǵajō was built as a branch fortification of Takamatsuyakushijō. It was guarded by the Fujiwara Clan who lived in Naganō. Mountains were frequently travelled in those days and the castle guarded the Iwasū route to Sakakita and Zenkōji.

For more information see Takamatsuyakushi Castle.

Visit Notes

Saruǵajō ('Monkey Castle') is a castle ruin set amidst breathtaking mountain scenery. At the beginning of the ruins from the trail is a towering pinnacle of rock called Sarutobi-iwa (Monkey Jump Rock). There is a small tree atop which makes it look like a bonsai arrangement. Legend goes that the column of rock got its name after the castle fell under siege and, when the end was inevitable, a princess threw herself from the pinnacle in suicide.

Why was a castle called for a monkey? The answer is in the castle's remote and inaccessible location; that is, you'd need to be a monkey to get to it, or climb into it. There is no need for elaborate stone walls at this altitude; the mountain provides the sheerest rocks and boulders as an instantaneously defensible position. These natural ramparts are augmented with horikiri (trenches) and a series of flattened areas for baileys. The main bailey is set just above Sarutobi-iwa, and there is a long bailey complex that follows the ridge beyond, with a terraced sub-bailey below. Some earth is piled up here too, which looks like dorui (earthen ramparts), but it may be yet another gift from the mountain which the intrepid castle builders incorporated into their base.

This site is not to be confused with Saruga Castle (Azumi), also in Nagano / Shinano.


Castle Profile
English Name Saruga Castle (Chikuma)
Japanese Name 筑摩猿ヶ城
Founder Fujiwara Clan or Maruyama Clan
Year Founded Medieval Era
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Kuruwa
Features trenches
Visitor Information
Access Akashina Station on the Shinonoi Line; 12 minute drive or 80 minute walk to trail head
Visitor Information 24/7; Free; Mountain
Time Required 30 minutes
Location Ikusaka, Nagano Prefecture
Coordinates 36° 23' 58.49" N, 137° 57' 45.47" E
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Added to Jcastle 2021
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed

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