Sawado Castle


Sawadojou (3).jpg


Sawadojō was the base of the Sawado Clan, vassals of the Nishina Clan, constructed in the early 16th century. The castle worked in conjunction with Mikkaichibajō on the opposite side of the valley, two castles standing like guards at the gate into the valley. In 1555 Takeda forces conquered Sawadojō and took it over. In 1582, following the demise of Takeda Katsuyori and then Oda Nobunaga in quick succession, the resurgent Ogasawara Clan reclaimed territory in Shinano. Clan boss Ogasawara Sadayoshi re-enfeoffed the Sawado Clan, and Sawado Moritada became castellan of Sawadojō. However, Uesugi Kagetora would contest the area, leading to Ogasawara Sadayoshi to order Sawado Moritada to strengthen Sawadojō along with other forts in the valley. Uesugi Kagetora's advance back into Shinano was ultimately halted by a word from Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and shortly thereafter he was relocated to Aiźu.

Visit Notes

Sawadojō is a yamajiro (mountaintop castle) ruin in Kamishiro Township, Hakuba Municipality. Ruins feature kuruwa (baileys), dorui (earthen ramparts), and horikiri (trenches). The fort's layout is linear, but climbing steeply, following the ridge. Three integral baileys are separated by tall terraces, and binded below and above along the ridge by horikiri. The rear set of horikiri are tripple moats! Like a 'VW'-shape.

I ended up reaching this site by climbing into the valley where there used to be a trail (no longer!) and then climbing the mountain head-on. This brought me up into the castle's third bailey, or a sub-bailey of it. I went back down following the ridge so as to see the lower horikiri and the terracing of smaller sub-baileys which turn the ridge into a giant stairway. I aimed for a road but ended up re-appearing to civilisation between some fields and surprising a farmer. His eyes bulged, but I was quick to say that I had emerged from the mountain and beg his pardon - "Eeee yooo", he sang in reply.

  • Horikiri (trench) and berm
  • Castle mount from below

Castle Profile
English Name Sawado Castle
Japanese Name 沢渡城
Founder Sawado Clan
Year Founded Early 16th Century
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Dorui, Horikiri, Kuruwa, &c.
Features trenches
Visitor Information
Access Minami-Kamishiro Station on the Ôito Line; 10 minute walk to trailhead
Visitor Information 24/7 free; mountain
Time Required 60 minutes
Location Hakuba, Nagano Prefecture
Coordinates 36° 38' 35.41" N, 137° 50' 9.89" E
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Added to Jcastle 2023
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
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