Suginome Castle




In ancient times, according to oral history, Suginometarō Nobuyuki had a fortified mansion upon this site. In the Nara Period the site contained a large temple called Suginomedera which possessed a Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsudō). Between 1189 and 1591 the Date Clan controlled this area. The Clan maintained a fort here from at least 1413, either fortifying or building on the ruins of the temple in the process. This fort was called Suginomejō after the temple, or, perhaps less formally, Daibutsujō, after the great Buddha statue it (had) possessed. It is known from letters sent by Date Harumune that he called the castle Suginomejō. To this day a large gorintō (stone elemental stupa) left over from the temple can be found at the ruins of Fukushima Castle. As for the Great Buddha statue, there is a large (over 2m tall) seated statue of Dainichi-nyorai (Vairocana) sculpted from wood at Tōganji, a temple in the city. In 1881 a huge fire destroyed Tōganji but the statue was kept safe at the Daibutsudō on Mount Shinobu which overlooks the city, and relocated back to Tōganji after the temple was rebuilt. This statue, however, is called 'The Second Great Buddha' or 'Great Buddha in Town', and from this I gather that it is a remake of the original statue that was located at the castle site. I can't find a date for when it was remade, even though I checked on a list of cultural properties of Fukushima City. Given though that it is a designated cultural property, it's probably from at least the Edo period, but it also appears that nothing was transferred from Suginomedera to Tōganji, and so this Second Great Buddha statue was likely never located at the castle site. Following Toyotomi Hideyoshi's victory of the Hōjō at Odawarajō, the Date Clan acknowledged him as ruler of Japan and gave up their territory in Fukushima, relocating to Yonezawa. In 1592 Kimura Yoshikiyo took control of Suginomejō, and it was probably abandoned at this time. He rebuilt the castle, changing the layout of the fort, and renamed it Fukushimajō. Today the majority of ruins date from this time.

The site of Suginome Castle is shared with Fukushima Castle. Suginomejō was one of several iterations of fortifications in the vicinity. In 1592 the castle was rebuilt as Fukushimajō with the central compound to the north of Suginomejō. They share an overlapping area and history, and may be considered as part of the same ruin, but Suginomejō's boundaries extended outside the bounds of Fukushimajō, and so it equally may be treated as a separate site. I have yet to confirm where the central compound of Suginomejō was located. It may have also been outside of the bounds of Fukushimajō. Suginomejō is known as Sugitsumajō today. This name was used during the Edo period to refer to the district of the castle town near to Suginomejō. The Edo Period pronounciation was then applied retroactively to the medieval era fort, so even though the ruin is today known as Sugitsumajō, in its day the fort was called Suginomejō.

Visit Notes

The site of Suginome Castle / Sugitsuma Castle is now a landscape garden.The remains of an earthen embankment form a gentle slope at the back of the garden. My coming here was incidental as I was working (and so I only had only my phone with me with which to take pictures): I had a meeting overlooking the garden and used my lunch break to explore. There's always time for castle ruins! There are signs up around the government district of Fukushima City explaining about the fortifications which used to exist there.

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  • dorui ato

Castle Profile
English Name Suginome Castle
Japanese Name 杉目城
Alternate Names Sugitsumajō / Daibutsujō
Founder Suginometarō Nobuyuki; Date Clan
Year Founded Heian Period; Muromachi Period (before 1413)
Castle Type Fortified Manor
Castle Condition Ruins only
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts dorui remnants
Visitor Information
Access Fukushima Station, Tohoku Main Line; 15 minute walk
Visitor Information Access restricted. Belongs to the Sugitsuma Meeting Hall. Ask within.
Time Required 30 minutes
Location Fukushima, Fukushima Prefecture
Coordinates 37° 44' 54.31" N, 140° 27' 59.58" E
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Added to Jcastle 2018
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed

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