Suwahara Castle 諏訪原城
Founder Takeda Katsuyori
Year 1573
Type Mountaintop
Condition Ruins
Alternate Name Makino-jo
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Location Kikugawa, Shizuoka Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Kanaya Sta. (Tokaido Line); 20 min walk
Visited October 11, 2010
Notes This castle is a favorite among castle fans and I can see why. Nearly all the castle grounds are well preserved. There are many deep moats and you can easily imagine what this kind of Sengoku Period mountaintop castle was like. Part of the old Tokaido Road runs near the castle so take a walk along the old stone paved road and around the fields of tea bushes. I suggest you stop by the tourist information center at Kanaya Station before you go out. They have maps of several trails through the area that you can enjoy.
History Suwahara Castle was founded by Takeda Katsuyori in 1573 along with nearby Koyama Castle to further his campaigns against Tokugawa in the West. In 1575, Tokugawa used the momentum from his win against the Takeda at Nagashino to conquer Suwahara Castle too. Suwahara Castle was renamed Makino Castle and used as the Tokugawa's base of operations against the Takeda in this area including the battle for Takatenjin Castle in 1581. After Tokugawa moved to the Kanto area (Tokyo), Suwahara Castle was no longer needed and was abandoned in 1590. Suwahara Castle is considered a great example of Takeda castle construction. It has steep natural cliffs on one side that open up onto a flat plain that is protected by several moats and maru umadashi style entrances.
Photo Tags

Viewer Comments

Comment on this castle
  • ART    May 17, 2017 at 05:52 PM
    Suwaharajō is a Sengoku period mountaintop castle ruin with many impressive Karabori (dry moats) crossed by dobashi (earthen bridges). The scale and depth of the moats is enthralling to behold. I entered the trail head at the foot of the mountain but it was so overgrown that I got lost and ended up at the bottom of one of the huge trenches – number 16 to be precise. I climbed the steep moat wall which was possible only due to the abundance of trees and emerged in the honmaru / honkuruwa (main bailey), from there exploring the whole site. At the entrances of the castle broad U-shaped semi-circula moats project outward. One of the dobashi between the ninokuruwa nan-umadashi and the sotobori (outer moat) was incredibly narrow with a perilous incline on either side. Probably it was worn down with age but it was hard to imagine leading a horse along let alone fighting on it. A newly reconstructed – from last year I think – yakuimon gate is located in the ninokuruwa kita-umadashi. It is the lone structure at the site and is a peculiar spectacle up there all by itself. A shrine to Suwa is located in a grove in the ninokuruwa ōte-umadashi. It is also a recent construction by the looks of it but a shrine dedicated to the god, tutelary deity of the Takeda Clan, was present from the founding of the castle.
  • Eric    January 20, 2014 at 11:42 PM
    Here's the article for anyone who missed it:
  • RaymondW    January 19, 2014 at 06:14 PM
    Eric, thanks for posting the info about the gate reconstruction. It looks like it will be at one end of the northernmost umadashi. That spot should have a good view of Mt. Fuji. That particular umadashi was closed to visitors when I visited Suwahara Castle Ruin a few years ago. Look forward to revisiting and seeing the reconstructed Yakuinmon style gate in a few years.
  • RaymondW on My Page    December 27, 2011 at 11:18 AM
    For fans of earlier and more “primitive’ yamashiros (mountaintop castles) which predates the larger Fushimi-Momoyama and Edo Period castles with tons of stone walls and massive castle keeps, this castle ruin is a very good one to visit. The castle designer made excellent use of the natural terrain. It has some of the deepest dry moats that I have seen at a yamashiro. The deepest ones, No.15 and No.16 on the eastern side are 60 metres from the bottom of the moat to the rim of the Honmaru (Main Bailey), and the ones on the western and southern sides are between 13 and 15 metres deep. These dry moats, in total 17, ring the whole castle with around two-thirds of them on the western and southern sides of the castle ruin. For fans of the Takeda Clan, and people who like to do a little bushwalking, this is a fine ruin to visit and easily be reached from JR Kanaya Station (2 to 3 trains an hour on weekends) in around 20 minutes walking uphill. I went with my girlfriend, and we were both impressed with its design. We also got lucky with the fine weather and could clearly see Mt. Fuji in the distance from one corner of the Honmaru overlooking the No.15 and No.16 moats. The current archaeological digging has moved on from the Ninomaru (Second Bailey), as shown in one of the photos on this website, to an area on the opposite side of the No.4 moat between the massive Northern Umadashi and the No.11 moat and area of the former stables. For me, I give this castle ruin two stars mainly for its impressive dry moats, the superb view of Mt. Fuji, its wooded surroundings, and the nearby old Tokaido (Tokai Road). I can see how for other castle fans, who prefer to see more fortified stone and wooden structures, would rate this castle ruin at 1 star or less.
  • Usagi on My Page    January 18, 2011 at 08:40 PM
    This castle ruins is currently under archeological excavation and a fascinating site to visit. It is an easy drive from Kakegawa castle. If you are lucky you may speak to the hard working excavation team who say it will be another 15 years before the castle is restored. Amazing views of Fuji can be seen on the roads all around this site.
Average Rating
Sign in to add this castle to your castle visits or to rate it.
  • Global rating average: 3.0 out of 5
  • 3.0
  • 3.0
  • 3.0
  • 3.0
  • 3.0
  • 3.0
  • 3.0
  • 3.0
  • 3.0
  • 3.0

Kikugawa, Shizuoka Pref.
Suwahara Castle views
Round Umadashi Entrance #4 moat
#9 moat #12 moat
#12 moat #4 moat
Earthen bridge between the #4 and #2 moats. Round Umadashi Entrance
Ninomaru Earthen bridge and moat
Honmaru bailey tenshu foundation
#6 moat Sannomaru bailey
#4 moat Dry Moat
Stone paved Tokaido Road map