Usayama Castle




The castle was built by Mori Yoshinari in 1570 under the direction of Oda Nobunaga to fortify the road to Kyoto against incursion by the combined forces of the Asakura and Asai. They also closed existing passes to Kyoto and created a new one, called Yamanaka-goe, (see Castles of Kyoto) that could be controlled from the castle. Usayama Castle is considered to be the first stone walled castle built by Nobunaga in the area.

In August of 1570 (after the Battle of Anegawa in June), the Miyoshi and allies rose up against Ashikaga Yoshiaki. Nobunaga and Ashikaga directed their forces to Osaka and the Asakura/Asai took advantage of the opportunity to attack Usayama Castle killing Mori Yoshinari. Nobunaga himself returned to Usayama from Osaka to fortify the castle and surround the Asakura/Asai and their allies who were holed up at Enryakuji. After Ashikaga Yoshiaki brokered a peaceful settlement with the Asakura/Asai, Nobunaga left the castle and placed Akechi Mitsuhide in charge. The following year, Nobunaga attacked and burned Enryakuji. Following the Siege of Enryakuji Akechi Mitsuhide built Sakamoto Castle and Usayama Castle was abandoned. Given the solid foundations of the castle and extant ruins today along with the great views of the west side of Lake Biwa and guarding the Yamanaka-goe pass, it is likely however, that the castle may have been used as an extended fortification or lookout forSakamoto Castle.

Visit Notes

This is a really great castle to visit. It's not a difficult trail, not too big and the trail head is just about 15 minutes walk from the nearest station. Usayama Castle was Nobunaga's first stone walled castle in the area and shows great ruins of early nozura-zumi stonework. There were quite a lot more stone walls and ruins here than I expected to find. There are two large segments of well preserved stone walls but most of the Honmaru and Ninomaru baileys have ruins scattered about. It's also said that these stone walls are "just for show" since they were only constructed on the walls facing the road. The castle is easy to find from Omi Hachimangu shrine. There are many signs made by the local elementary school pointing the way. In the worst case scenario, just head towards the giant NHK antenna in the honmaru. One of the NHK buildings even builds up and around some foundation stones in the honmaru so they don't damage the historical site.

You could easily enjoy Usayama Castle as a half day trip combined with nearby castles or exploring some of the great treasures nearby such as the Anozumi stonework of Sakamoto, Saikyo-ji or Miidera.

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  • original foundation beneath the antenna tower

Castle Profile
English Name Usayama Castle
Japanese Name 宇佐山城
Alternate Names Shiga-jo
Founder Mori Yoshinari
Year Founded 1570
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features trenches, stone walls
Visitor Information
Access Otsukyo Sta. (JR Kosei Line), 10 min walk to Omi Hachimangu Shrine; 30 min mountain hike
Visitor Information mountain, open any time
Time Required 90 mins
Location Otsu, Shiga Prefecture
Coordinates 35° 2' 1.43" N, 135° 50' 47.76" E
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Added to Jcastle 2023
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 2022
Admin Visits Dec 28, 2012
Friends of JCastle
Jokaku Horoki
Shiga Shiro Expo

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