Shishiku Castle



As with many castles from the Sengoku period, we are not sure precisely when this was built or by whom. It may have been around as far back as the Kamakura Period (12th C.) but it first comes into prominence in the late 1300's. Egusa Nobuyasu, the third son of Takeda Nobumitsu, is noted to have been living in the castle from 1394-1428. There is also a 1509 record of an Egusa Castle, that was likely this site. After Takeda Shingen unified the greater area under his control, Shishiku Castle became an important link in the communication network to the Saku area of modern day Nagano Prefecture. It was also part of the smoke signal network to relay information to the Takeda home in Kofu at the Tsutsujigasaki Palace. The castle today has a kind of reconstructed imitation tower intended to show where they may have sent smoke signals. Many charcoal and burned wood artifacts were found here and the site also has a stone cave for making charcoal.

In 1582, the Takeda lost to Nobunaga and the castle temporarily came under Kawajiri Hidetaka who controlled the Kai region for Nobunaga. Later that same year, Nobunaga dies at the Honnoji Incident and Kawajiri is killed by a former Takeda retainer. The Tokugawa and Hojo fought for control of the Kai region as Tokugawa took Shinpu Castle and Hojo took Wakamiko Castle and Shishiku Castle. Later that year, Hattori Hanzo took these two castles from the Hojo. Since Tokugawa then controlled the greater Kai region, there was little need for Shishiku Castle and it was abandoned.

Visit Notes
There are some really interesting stone wall remains around this castle. You don't see this much stonework around other castles in the area, especially Takeda castles so it was a site I've wanted to visit for some time. It's just not very easy to get to. There are busses from Nirasaki Station about every two hours, but some don't run on the weekend/holidays so you need to plan carefully. From the bus stop it's another 30 minute walk to the castle entrance. Near the bus stop is a sign that points you in the direction of the castle (in Japanese and English even!) so it is not difficult to just follow the signs to get there. The same sign also points the way (opposite way from the castle) to the Negoya Shrine which has a giant zelkova tree (Japanese elm). I did not visit the shrine but if you do, I have heard that there is another path to the castle from the shrine. If you visit in the fall it could be nice to see the golden leaves of the tree before climbing the mountain to the castle top.

The castle itself has more or less one main path, but from the entrance there are no signs and nothing is marked. At the entrance the path diverges immediately, one going straight and one going up the hill. You'll want to take the path straight ahead. There are no signs once inside, so you need to watch carefully and explore off the beaten path to find most of the stone wall remains in these photos. With so many interesting features I really wish this site had at least a couple more signs to help visitors.



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  • Stone wall of the obikuruwa bailey
  • Entrance to the castle ruins
  • Trail through the woods
  • Large trench, tatebori
  • Stone wall
  • Large trench, tatebori
  • Stone walls
  • Stone wall
  • Stone wall
  • Stone wall
  • Charcoal kiln
  • Charcoal kiln
  • Stone wall
  • Trail around the honmaru.
  • Two levels of stone walls
  • Entrance and embankments
  • Castle entrance
  • Yokobori trench
  • A yokobori trench
  • Stone wall
  • Stone wall
  • Stone wall
  • Stone wall
  • Main bailey
  • Main bailey
  • Sign about smoke signal stations
  • Stone wall remains
  • Stone wall
  • Cliff behind the castle
  • View from the way to the castle

Castle Profile
English Name Shishiku Castle
Japanese Name 獅子吼城
Alternate Names Egusa-jo
Founder Egusa Nobuyasu
Year Founded around 1392-1428
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Local Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features trenches, stone walls
Visitor Information
Access Nirasaki Sta, Bus for Masutomi Onsen (40 mins), get off at Taira bus stop, walk 30 mins.
Visitor Information open any time
Time Required 90 mins
Location Hokuto, Yamanashi Prefecture
Coordinates 35° 49' 6.64" N, 138° 27' 56.02" E
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Added to Jcastle 2016
Admin Year Visited 2015
Admin Visits October 12, 2015

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