Shioda Koubouyama Fort


ShiodajouKoubouyamaToride (1).JPG


Visit Notes

Kōbōyama-toride, also known as Shiodajō Upper Castle, probably has the most exciting approaching trail of any castle site I've visited. In keeping with Shioda's nickname of 'the Kamakura of Shinshū', Kōbōyama-toride, centred around the peak of Kōbōyama, is also the site of a series of buddhist grottoes. The trail up features staircases carved from great boulders which rise up through circular openings into and through the rocks. One must use hanging ropes to safely climb up the steep stone stairways and through these phenomenal portals separating the mundane and the mystical. One squeezes through the openings and side-steps between gashes in huge boulders, so that the experience is similar to spelunking (potholing) more so than hiking. Carved into what look like the abodes of a fanciful forest-dwelling race of little people are the altars of buddhist dieties. In one "penthouse suite" of what I dubbed "bosatsu-manshon (apartment blocks of boddhisatvas)", I rested and ate trailmix. I was in a cave with a circular opening to eitherside and a balcony of rock with an incredible view. I realised that I didn't want to leave and began contemplating my new life as a forest vagrant. But, after consuming half a bag of buttery cashnew nuts, I did leave, and soon came to the main part of the Kōbōyama Fort Complex. It is a series of flattened spaces - baileys - separated by boulders. I hopped over small trenches between boulders which seemed to form a sort of obstacle course for anyone navigating the fort ruin. In a lower bailey there was a crown of huge standing rocks, and I climbed up and perched on one to appreciate an unobstructed view for miles around.

Well, I should discuss the fort itself. The layout is of several baileys grouped around the peak of Kōbōyama. Each ridge is like a radiating spoke around this central peak, and the ridges were fortified, with the eastern, middle (to the south) and western bailey groups. The eastern spur ends in the Higashi-toride (East Fort), the middle spur in the Nishi-toride (West Fort), and the western spur in a long, rocky slope which leads to a rather isolated and unnamed bōrui (a small bailey-fort). This latter bōrui I only found after coming back later because it is at considerably lower elevation to the rest of Kōbōyama-toride. To the north is a stumpy spur which quickly terminates in another bōrui (and there is another sacred boulder with a carving here which looks like a soft bite out of an apple).

The westernmost bailey of the Kōbōyama-toride is the gateway to both the lonely bōrui mentioned above and the Shiodajō-Nishibōrui-gun, or grouping of Western Bailey-Forts. However, one can easily miss the connection to the latter because the ridge which the Nishibōrui-gun is on is at the bottom of a large cliff with many vertical and overhanging segments. I would eventually climb down here but I must warn that it is rather dangerous.


Castle Profile
English Name Shiodajou Koubouyama Fort
Japanese Name 塩田城弘法山砦
Founder Hōjō Yoshimasa
Year Founded 1277
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Prefectural Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Horikiri, Kuruwa, Bourui, Ishigaki
Features trenches, stone walls
Visitor Information
Access Shiodamachi Station on the Besshō Line; 35 minute walk to trail head
Visitor Information 24/7 free; mountain
Time Required 60 minutes
Location Ueda, Nagano Prefecture
Coordinates 36° 20' 2.98" N, 138° 11' 43.51" E
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Added to Jcastle 2022
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed

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