Toishi Castle




Toishi Castle is constructed on a ridge extending out from Mt. Higashitaroyama. It's one vast compound castle, made of four small castles called Komeyama-jo, Toishi-jo, Hon-jo and Masugata-jo concentrated around the main Hon-jo area. Even though they're often called four castles you could also think of them like 4 baileys at other castles.

The early history of Toishi Castle is not clear. It's attributed to either the Murakami or Sanada, but most likely the Murakami. Around 1468 Murakami Masakiyo made incursions into the Chiisagata area (modern day Ueda) and likely built out the mountaintop fortification here. If you were to visit the area you would see that the Taroyama mountains dominate the horizon around Ueda. This ridge was is an ideal location that splits the modern day Ueda Station and Ueda Castle area from the Sanada area claimed as the home of the Sanada clan. Around 1532-1555, Murakami Yoshikiyo further built out and renovated much of the castle.

In 1550, Toishi Castle became famous as the biggest loss in Takeda Shingen's career. Earlier in the year, Shingen defeated the Ogasawara (see Hayashikojo Castle) extending his reach into the Shinano region and leaving the Murakami as the last major holdout. Shingen had actually lost another major battle to Murakami, the Battle of Uedahara, 2 years earlier so he was looking to take revenge on Murakami's home fortress with overwhelming might. Shingen attacked Toishi Castle with 7000 soldiers against the castle's 500 defenders. On August 29th, Shingen surrounded the castle and began his attack on September 9th. The steep sides and tenacity of the Murakami defended held off Shingen until September 23rd when a reinforcement army of 4000 suddenly appeared at his back. Murakami had escaped Shingen's blockade and brought his main forces to Shingen's back. Shingen still fought on until October 1st when they withdrew and escaped back to Suwa. Shingen suffered heavy casualties including the loss of one of his generals, Yokota Takatoshi. This battle is often known as Toishi Kuzure (砥石崩れ).

Takeda Shingen commanded Sanada Yukitaka to take the castle in 1551. Yukitaka was able to get someone on the inside to betray Murakami and opened the castle to him. Thereafter the Sanada controlled Toishi Castle where it played an important role in the battles of Ueda Castle.

Visit Notes
The trails around Toishi Castle are much easier than I expected. Some blogs and comments make it sound like it is really challenging, but if you are careful it is not so difficult. Matsuokojo Castle near was considerably more difficult. Some areas are very steep and slippery but they are not very long so they can be easily climbed using the guide ropes or a trekking pole as I did. A few places have built in a lot of steps and they are clearing a lot of trees from the Honjo area making it a very enjoyable mountaintop castle to visit.

The castle is well sign posted, well maintained, photogenic and easy to navigate. It is highly recommended for all mountain castle fans, but you should visit between the late fall and early spring before it is overgrown with weeds and foliage.


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  • Honjo entrance
  • Mock yagura gate
  • The trail to Komeyama-jo
  • Trail to Komeyama-jo
  • Central bailey of Komeyama-jo
  • Komeyama-jo bailey
  • Komeyama-jo baileys
  • Komeyama-jo obikuruwa
  • Toishi Castle
  • Trail to Toishi Castle
  • Trail up to Toishi Castle
  • Stone steps
  • more stairs...
  • Central bailey of Toishi-jo
  • Central bailey of Toishi-jo
  • Path from Toishi-jo to Honjo
  • Steep side of Toishi-jo
  • Double horikiri
  • Main entrance to the Honjo
  • Earthworks of the Honjo
  • Earthworks of the Honjo
  • Baileys of the Honjo
  • Baileys of the Honjo
  • Baileys of the Honjo
  • Baileys and earthworks of the Honjo
  • Baileys and earthworks of the Honjo
  • Baileys and earthworks of the Honjo
  • Baileys of the Honjo
  • Main bailey of the Honjo
  • Honjo deep trench
  • Deep trench of the Honjo main bailey
  • Trail to Masugata-jo
  • Main bailey of Masugata-jo
  • Main bailey of Masugata-jo
  • Main bailey of Masugata-jo
  • Bailey of Masugata-jo
  • View from Masugata-jo
  • Obikuruwa of the Honjo
  • Great view of the Sanada area
  • Minor baileys
  • Minor baileys of the Mizunote area.
  • simple map
  • Hiking route map

Castle Profile
English Name Toishi Castle
Japanese Name 砥石城
Alternate Names Komeyama-jo, Toishi Komeyama-jo, Honjo, Masugata-jo
Founder Murakami
Year Founded mid 15th C.
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Prefectural Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features trenches, stone walls
Visitor Information
Access Ueda Sta. 15 min bus, walk 5 mins
Visitor Information mountain park, open any time
Time Required 150 mins
Location Ueda, Nagano Prefecture
Coordinates 36° 25' 36.23" N, 138° 17' 27.96" E
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Added to Jcastle 2016
Admin Year Visited 2016
Admin Visits March 31, 2016

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