Tsutsuhata Castle I
The history of Tsutsuhatajō mostly goes along with that of Karidaôjō. It was part of a complex of fortifications built by the Takanashi Clan on their southern border to protect against the advances of the Takeda Clan. Takeda Shingen conquered the castle in 1561. For more information see Karidaôjō (Karidaoh Castle).
I had been anticipating attacking Tsutsuhatajō for a long time, having missed out on my opportunity to visit at the end of last season. Finally, on a perfect autumnal day, I embarked upon one of Nagano’s premier yamajiro (mountaintop castle) exploration circuits. A tour of Takanashi Clan castle sites in Obuse Municipality, Takai County, takes one up and down a mountain by two different ridges, with eight fortification sites along the way. The circuit could probably be hiked in about three and a half hours, though due to my time spent exploring the fortification ruins I was on the mountain for about five hours. My recommendation is that one start by climbing the northern ridge up to Takinoirijō, and descend via the south ridge. The northern ridge is the site of Tsutsuhatajō, a castle complex divided between five forts straddling the ridge. The northern ridge has no trail, but since the fort sites are spaced fairly evenly all the way up, and much of the ridge was formerly fortified, the dull sections of climbing the unworked ridge are only brief.
Tsutsuhatajō is a fortification complex consisting of five distinct fort sites. The castles are numbered one through five, with the first being Tsutsuhatajō-Ichinoshiro (Tsutsuhata Castle I). Ichinoshiro is made up of a series of terraces with a horikiri (trench) to the rear. Lower portions of the mountainside may have been terraced, but it’s hard to know if this was fortified space or just for hillside agriculture. The earth-piled ramparts which form the terraces of the larger baileys furthest up, however, are clearly part of the fort. The rear trench is quite impressive.
In terms of its place overall in Tsutsuhatajō, Ichinoshiro, the first castle, is the least engaging, but one can reach it very quickly by climbing from a trail which starts behind some old statuettes and stelae on the south of the ridge terminus. Although the main part of the fort is relatively clear, the lower, less developed parts of the ridge are overgrown and various plants, many of them thorny, obscure the path. This flora isn’t impassable, but it’s a bit annoying. One must persevere at first but not despair as the ridge clears up as it climbs.
|English Name||Tsutsuhata Castle I|
|Year Founded||From 1492|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Access||Tsusumi Station on the Nagano Electric Line; 25-minute walk to trailhead at Ichinoshiro|
|Time Required||30 minutes|
|Location||Obuse, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 42' 27.40" N, 138° 20' 18.10" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2022|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|
|Friends of JCastle|