Shirokoma Castle


Shirokomajou (11).JPG


Shirokomajō is said to date to the Heian period when Kiso Yoshinaka fled to the area with the help of Higuchi Jirō. Jirō’s son, Yukitoki, became the lord of the castle. The ruins of the castle appear to be medieval, however, and Sodeyama Uenosuke was castellan during its latter history. Another lord of the castle may have been Tezuka Saburobē. Due to its location the fort is thought to have been controlled by the Maruyama Clan who were vassals of the Nishina Clan.

According to tradition, one of the first lords of Shirokomajō was Higuchi Yukitoki (later known as Gyōji). He was married to Fuji, a woman of the Yonemochi Clan, but he took a mistress called Kiyo. Naturally the two women did not get along, and Yukitoki, who no longer loved Fuji, conspired with Kiyo to murder his wife. To this end, the legend goes, the trio went to a sakura-viewing party at a scenic gorge near the castle. Fuji suspected that she would be pushed into the gorge by either Kiyo or her husband, and so she quietly stitched a piece of fabric from her long-sleeved kimono to Kiyo’s kimono (via the tamoto, which is a large pocket that trails down from the sleeve). When they got up to go Fuji was pushed from the top of the gorge, only for Kiyo to be caught by the embroidery and go tumbling after her. Both women perished and Yukitoki became a monk in penitence, taking up at a hermitage near the castle which is now the site of an altar to Kannon. It is said that two pine trees joined at the base now stand in the gorge.

I mention a lord above called Sodeyama. Sodeyama (袖山) means 'sleeve mountain' and so that is likely an allusion to the legendary history described above. The area must've been thereafter called Sodeyama, and that became the lord's clan name in typical medieval fashion.

Visit Notes

Shirokomajō is a yamajiro (mountaintop castle) site primarily featuring bailey spaces and trenches. It has three principal baileys with the wide main bailey at the rear being split by a terrace. The baileys are divided by trenches and changes in elevation. Beneath the main bailey and to the rear is terracing with what is thought to be the remains of a masugatamon (square gate complex), and then beneath those terraced sub baileys is a wide sunken area, a feature called ‘umaya’ as it is believed horses were kept there. Beyond that is a narrow ridge which was used as a dorui (earthen rampart) (and here I saw a yamakagashi (a type of venomous snake)).

  • Old sign post for castle in main bailey
  • Stable area to right with defensive ridge to left
  • trench / horikiri
  • Earthen embankment

Castle Profile
English Name Shirokoma Castle
Japanese Name 白駒城
Founder Higuchi Yukitoki; Sodeyama Uenosuke
Year Founded Kamakura Period
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Kuruwa, Umaya, Horikiri, Masugata, Koguchi, &c
Features trenches
Visitor Information
Access Closest station is Shinano-Matsukawa Station on the Ôito Line (Shinano-Ikeda Station on the Ikeda Railway was closed in 1938)
Visitor Information 24/7; free; mountain
Time Required 30 minutes
Location Ikeda, Nagano Prefecture
Coordinates 36° 25' 19.74" N, 137° 54' 3.56" E
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Added to Jcastle 2022
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
Friends of JCastle
Shiro to Kosenjō

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