Takebajō is a satellite fortification of Aoyagijō. The fort was the responsibility of Aoyagi Yorinaga's vassal, Takeba Sadatomo. Takebajō is thought to have been abandoned or captured when Aoyagi Yorinaga was executed by Ogasawara Sadanori at Fukashijō (Matsumoto Castle) in 1587. See Aoyagi Castle for more information.
Takebajō was not my original destination on the day I visited. I went to Nagano with the plan of renting a bicycle and cycling out to some yamajiro (mountaintop castles) which had caught my interest. It turns out that it's pretty difficult to rent a bicycle in Nagano; I knew I could rent a decent 'e-bike' in Suzaka, but I thought it'd save time to get one in Nagano and go from there directly. Two places are listed as offering rental bicycles in Nagano, but both of these places were closed when I visited. I checked two bicycle repair shops but they didn't rent. At 11am I called it quits and began making my way back to Matsumoto. I had already been to most major sites in Chikuhoku Municipality, but there was one site near Sakakita Station which I hadn't yet been to yet, Takebajō.
Despite it being quite close to the station as the crow flies, Takebajō is difficult to get to. Not being a crow, I had intended to simply go to the foot of the mountain closest to the station and climb the naked ridge from there. But I could see from topographic maps that this was very steep, almost 'mushroom-like', and there were no reports of trails there. Most castle explorers, it seemed, went from a temple to the west, but this was a bit far for me to walk to. Instead I came up with my own route by closely inspecting maps (on 'Yamap' app').
There is a housing estate called Mukōhara opposite the station. The relative height of Takebajō is about 150m, but by going via this housing area, which sits on flattened land overlooking the valley, I could half the relative height I had to climb on the mountain itself. Between the castle mount and the housing area there are deep ravines, so first I had to go south. It was a circuitous route but not too steep. I accessed a ridge near a cemetery, and, though there was no trail, it wasn't a steep climb. Having not anticipated coming here I had my bag with me and wanted to avoid steep climbs (the day before had also been intense). After some climbing from the south I came to a lovely trail along the top ridge. From there it was a pleasant saunter, practically, to reach Takebajō. The only steep section along that trail is the depression between Takebajō, sitting on its mushroom, and the rest of the mountain. Along the way one can see some nice rock formations; the rocks emerge from white, sandy soil with pine trees growing, and I had observed similar scenery at other mountains in the area.
As for Takebajō itself, it is small and not an overly developed fort, and so really only of interest to yamajiro fanatics. I entered the castle area from the south where there is a southern spur with a horikiri (trench) before the southern bailey. The main bailey, which is not large, rises from there. Another horikiri is found in the northwest beneath the main bailey. From the northeast there is a large spur of the castle. Along this ridge are two horikiri cradling a sunken bailey. Rising above this, though not as high as the main bailey, is an outer bailey. According to the blogs I was following (Ranmaru, Yogo), there used to be somekind of antenna here, but I just found a clear space. In fact, the earth was much flatter here than in other parts of the ruin, indicating its modern use. A spur of fortification ruins continue to the north from this outer bailey, including another horikiri.
I think there may be more detached baileys at this castle. Various bloggers and commentors mention possible earthworks in different parts of the mountain. I descended by the most northerly ridge, and along here was what looked like some terracing and a possible bailey circle divided by a trench mirroring a natural creek. It seems castle maniac Takeshita Hanbē, who leaves reviews of obscure sites on Google Maps, may have also come here as he references 'earthwork-like features' along the way, and it seems he came up via this northern ridge, mentioning a shrine he passed. When I got down I found this shrine. He was pretty crazy coming up that way, as it was very steep, as attested by my lightning descent; catching myself falling with various trees, I call that 'falling with style'. Naturally my thanks goes to the bloggers mentioned here that came before me. I will add to this legacy, I suppose, by recommending the southern route as the gentlest one for accessing the ruins of Takebajō.
|English Name||Takeba Castle|
|Year Founded||Sengoku Period|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Access||Nearest Station is Sakakita Station on the Shinonoi Line|
|Visitor Information||24/7 free; mountain|
|Time Required||40 minutes|
|Location||Chikuhoku, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 26' 2.80" N, 138° 0' 1.22" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2022|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|
|Friends of JCastle|