Shibata Castle




In the Sengoku Period, the Shibata clan ruled over this area and were aligned with Oda Nobunaga, Naturally, that put them at odds with Uesugi Kagekatsu who defeated them in 1587. In 1598, Mizoguchi Hidekatsu founded Shibata Castle under the orders of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It was not completed until 1654 under the third generation Mizoguchi, Mizoguchi Nobunao. In 1872 when the Meiji Government ordered the castle to be dismantled it had 11 yagura and 5 gates. Of those 16 main structures only one gate and one yagura remain today. The majority of the Ninomaru and the Honmaru baileys are now occupied by the a Self Defense Forces base. Because of that you cannot enter the three story yagura pictured above. The closest that you can get is where this picture was taken just across the moat.

The three story yagura pictured above was used as the main keep for the castle. Look closely at the roof of the castle. How many shachi do you see? Indeed, there are three. The roof of the top level is in the shape of a T with a shachi on each end. It is the only yagura in Japan with three shachi on the roof.

Visit Notes

This is a great little castle to visit if you're not too far away. When considering the original samurai homes, Important Cultural Properties and faithfully reconstructed yagura I gave it 4 stars. It's unfortunate that you can't go in the main keep. Take the time to visit the samurai homes about 1.5km from the castle. They're well worth your time.

Loading map...

  • main keep
  • main keep
  • original ninomaru sumi yagura
  • Ninomaru Sumi Yagura
  • Inside the Ninomaru Sumiyagura
  • Original Omotemon Gate
  • Omotemon Gate
  • Inside the Omotemon Gate
  • 2 yagura, moat, gate
  • Tatsumi Yagura
  • Tatsumi Yagura
  • Inside the Tatsumi Yagura
  • Stones from the Dobashimon Gate
  • Castle map
  • Ashigaru Nagaya
  • You can see a couple of the doors to different apartments.
  • Inside one of the apartments
  • map of the longhouse
  • Ishiguro home
  • Shimizudani Palace

Castle Profile
English Name Shibata Castle
Japanese Name 新発田城
Alternate Names Ayame-jo
Founder Mizoguchi Hidekatsu
Year Founded 1598
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition Reconstructed main keep
Designations Top 100 Castles, has Important Cultural Properties, Local Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Main Keep Structure 3 levels, 3 stories
Year Reconstructed 2004 (wood)
Artifacts Omote Gate, Ninomaru Sumi Yagura
Features gates, turrets, samurai homes, water moats, stone walls, walls
Visitor Information
Access Shibata Sta. (Uetsu Line), 20 min walk
Visitor Information Open April1 - Nov 30
Time Required 80 mins
Location Shibata, Niigata Prefecture
Coordinates 37° 57' 18.47" N, 139° 19' 30.50" E
Loading map...
Added to Jcastle 2011
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 2011
Admin Visits October 9, 2011
(11 votes)
Add your comment welcomes all comments. If you do not want to be anonymous, register or log in. It is free.



10 months ago
Score 0++

On my second visit to Shibatajō I entered the castle’s main bailey for the first time. That’s an odd thing to say, right? I don’t think I’ve somehow not visited the main bailey at any other major Edo period castle when first visiting. But Shibatajō actually shares its territory now with a jieitai army base, and the inner bailey isn’t always open; I think it’s closed in winter. Anyway, it was open this time, so I got to go in the main bailey and all of the structures excepting the main keep which is not open to the general public due to the military base (‘Thank you for your service! …Now let me in the castle^^”’).

The ninomaru sumiyagura (second bailey corner keep, 1668) and the honmaru omotemon (main bailey main gate, 1732) are original structures at Shibata Castle. You’ll notice the ninomaru sumiyagura is in the main bailey, not the second as per its name. That’s because it was relocated there, occupying the site of the honmaru teppō-yagura (main bailey gun tower). Other towers are reconstructions. The tatsumi-yagura has been reconstructed. As has the three-tier sangai-yagura. Above I referred to this as the main keep, which works as a translation in English since of all the keeps this was the largest, though it is not referred to as a tenshu (donjon). According to (Japanese) Wikipedia, this is merely a naming convention to show deference to the Shogunate, but de facto it’s a tenshu. Alrighty then! The architecture is any case quite special because of the ‘T’-shaped roof with three shachihoko (the ceramic fish monsters on roof finials). Adding to that the ‘sea slug’ plaster tile walls and we have quite a unique looking tower here.


90 months ago
Score 1++
The Jieitai have opened up a museum on the castle site, just in front of their base (白壁兵舎広報史料館). The two storey building includes a section dedicated to Shibata Castle, including a cute model of how it originally looked. From this \castle corner"you can get a very nice view of the main turret out of the window as well as the army barracks below. It's free so do visit here if you have time"

Kiddus i2003Gunshi

99 months ago
Score 0++
For the size of what is there and the moated wall it is very impressive, also the locals on hand had English paper to explain the history of it. Another nice detour.


110 months ago
Score 0++
This morning i went first to Nakajô to see the Egami yakata. Some structures have been rebuilt there and there are moats and embankments. It was used at the end of the Heian period and beginning of the Kamakura period. After that i went to Shibata, it's only one station back with the Inaho ltd. express. I visited first the ashigaru nagaya. Very interesting building. When i was already inside, a lady came to me and told me that i had to come to the Shimizu garden first to pay a ticket. She friendly let me finish the visit of the nagaya before i went to the garden. The fee of 800¥ includes the garden, the nagaya and the Bukeyashiki. The garden is very beautiful and at the end there is a storehouse with numerous artifacts( at least 7 armors). After that i went to te Shirakabe Heisha. It was built in 1874 and houses a museum about the japanese army from the Meiji period until the actual Self Defense Force. In it's heyday it was used as barracks. The building is still part of the SDF. The castle is just next to it. The entrance is free and i received a leaflet in english containing a lot of information. I could enter the 3 structures which aren't on the SDF grounds. These are the Omote-mon, the Sumi-yagura and the Tatsumi-yagura. In the Tatsumi-yagura the staff-member was eagerly giving information about the structure of the towers. If you are in the vicinity, i highly recommend a visit to this city.


154 months ago
Score 0++
Thanks Kris! None of my materials provide that extra background. I think they are starting closer to the end of the Sengoku Period when this castle was built.

Anonymous user #1

154 months ago
Score 0++

Hooray! +1 Castle Visit. Happy to see this profile. I agree totally. Shibata city is a little out of the way but it is a peaceful town in a beautiful location. If you can get a sunny, still day the views of the yagura and gate reflected in the moat are gorgeous. The view down into the SDF base seems kind of like it should be a security risk somehow and the three shachi-hoko roof is a bit hard to get photos of – Sir, I applaud your title pic. More than just the castle, this is one of those places where the whole town is interesting to walk around. There are lots of signs, in Japanese, detailing where parts of the castle complex were. Definitely definitely see the garden, the samurai houses and the ashigaru housing. The souvenir shop sells tatsumi-yagura shape asparagus-flavoured cakes that don't actually taste like asparagus, but castle fans who complain about over- commercialisation and merchandising should be really happy this site has none of that.

A note on the history section, the way I had it explained to me, the Echigo Shibata were vassals of the Nagao clan and served under Uesugi Kenshin. Later Shibata Shigeie supported Uesugi Kagekatsu but felt undervalued and dissatisfied with Kagekatsu generally showering love and obis on Naoe Kanetsugu and that is when he decided to ally with the Oda. There was a nondescript statue of Shigeie a few blocks back from the castle on a street lined with old shrines and temples.


154 months ago
Score 0++
This place looks totally awesome. It truly is one of the top two or three that I've had my eye on for some time. Looking at these pictures, I'm almost salivating.