Suzumeǵamori-noroshidai is believed to have been the site of a fortified beacon tower controlled by the Takeda Clan as part of their extensive network of relay beacons between Kai and Shinano. Suzumeǵamori-noroshidai was situated above the Takeda Bōmichi, a logistics road developed by Takeda Shingen to run supplies and men between Kai and Shinano provinces, and so it likely played a role in protecting supply lines too.
There is also a tradition that the site was the hidden residence of Hōjō Tokiyuki between 1333 and 1335. Hōjō Takatoki, Tokiyuki's father, the last Shogunal Regent of the Kamakura Shogunate, died by suicide at the siege of Kamakura. Tokiyuki fled to Shinano under the protection of the Suwa Clan, however, and according to local tradition he was hidden in the woods here and cared for by a priest of the Upper Suwa Shrine called Tokitsugu; it is said that at night fires were burnt in holes to stop the rising smoke from being seen. That's kind of funny considering that Suzumeǵamori-noroshidai was (later) a signal tower. The Suwa helped Tokiyuki raise an army and, with the support of such local clans as the Unno and Mochiźuki, they attacked Kamakura and captured it, but the rebellion (Nakasendai no Ran) was defeated after only twenty days when Ashikaga forces re-took the old capital. Tokiyuki later served the Southern Court.
In the forests of Hara Village there is a much storied place called the Forest of Sparrows. In the middle of the forest, at a top of a hill to the north of a cluster of pensions (lodging houses), there is a stone stele and statue. The above sea level height here is 1,311m, but the relative height of the hill is only about 16m. I took a path which went up on the eastern side of the hill and so came upon the ruins of Suzumeǵamori-noroshidai, a fortified signal tower site, from that side. From below it seems as though the earth has been heaped up into protective ramparts, and this immediately made me want to suspect the ruins of earthworks. Climbing up the hill and looking back it did appear that there was an earthen bulwark here. The main bailey, as we may call it, appears partially surrounded by dorui (earthen ramparts), especially to the northern side, and there are flattened terraces below on this flank too. The hill gently slopes off to the south. To me there is an impression of a fortification site here, though it cannot be said to be unmistakably so.
|English Name||Suzumegamori Noroshidai|
|Founder||Hōjō Tokiyuki; Takeda Clan|
|Year Founded||1333; Sengoku Period|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Access||Nearest station is Suzuran Station on the Chūō Main Line; 15 minute drive (/2hr trek)|
|Visitor Information||24/7 free; park|
|Time Required||20 minutes|
|Location||Hara, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||35° 58' 22.51" N, 138° 16' 11.17" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2022|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|