Takatori Castle 高取城
Founder Ochi Kunizumi
Uemura
Year 1332
Type Mountaintop
Condition Ruins
Alternate Name Fuyo-jo
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles
Location Takatori, Nara Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Tsubosakayama Sta. (Kintetsu Yoshino Line), 15 min bus, 45 min hike
Website Takatori Castle Volunteer Guide Association
Visited November 21, 2010
Notes This was a huge, sprawling castle with 27 yagura, impressive stone walls and several baileys for the residences of vassals. I think I missed some ruins so I'll have to go back again one day. They definitely need better signs and maps for this castle. It is very hard to identify any structure and few maps make it hard to judge where to go. Please take a look at the computer graphic reconstruction from the Nara Sangyo University. You can take a bus from the Station to Tsubosaka Temple (famous for mending eyesight) and then hike 40+ mins to the castle. There is also an 11km round trip hiking course from the station that I will do next time.
History Ochi Kunizumi built the original castle on this site in 1332. The Ochi controlled the castle until the mid 16th C. It took part in several uprisings and was an important castle in the area. Takatori Castle was abandoned by order of Oda Nobungara in 1580 when he named Yamato Koriyama the ruling castle in the region. Tsutsui Junkei began rebuilding the castle in 1584 but he died shortly thereafter. His heir Sadatsugu was also moved to Iga the following year, so rebuilding the castle fell to Honda Tarozaemon and his son Toshitomo. The Honda ruled the castle until 1640 when Uemura Iemasa became the new lord. The Uemura clan continued to rule until the Meiji Restoration. Takatori Castle is named one of the Three Great Mountaintop Castles along with BItchu Matsuyama Castle and Iwamura Castle.

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  • RaymondW    December 04, 2011 at 10:48 PM
    Autumn is the time to visit this great yamashiro. It is quite an extensive mountaintop castle with lots of baileys, but more than half of them are overgrown and not accessible, particularly the Yoshinoguchi series of baileys and the 20-odd baileys located between the Ninomon (Second Gate) and Matsunomon (Pine Gate). Still, the area around the Honmaru (main bailey), the "palace" bailey, and Ninomaru (second bailey) with its kaleidoscopic colourful autumn leaves certainly make this a great castle ruin to visit. Revised seasonal rating for this castle fan: four stars in autumn. BTW, a taxi ride to just below the honmaru from Tsubosakayama Station cost 2,100yen. I got there late with my girlfriend, so we decided to take the taxi up and walked down the mountain back to the station (roughly 4km). The taxi took Route 119 up, but for hikers, it is a different quiet country road passing through the heart of Takatori Town. One advantage of taking the taxi is that the driver will give you a pretty good map of the castle plus some other flyers about the town. BTW, the tourist info office was closed again by the time we got down from the mountain. Still haven't got the 100 Meijo stamp yet despite going to this castle ruin twice.
  • rebolforces on My Page    May 21, 2011 at 07:39 PM
    Great walk up mountain, lots of wall ruins, local town also nice
  • RaymondW on My Page    February 10, 2011 at 12:01 AM
    See my earlier comment below. I have given this castle three stars because it only has ishigaki and ruins left. However, if you could visualise what the castle looked like in its day by just looking at all the stone walls left, it would be a four-star castle site for you. Either way, this is a wonderful castle site.
  • RaymondW    February 09, 2011 at 11:58 PM
    I went to this castle last weekend. It is quite an extensive castle complex with lots of baileys all over the place. Some of the baileys are seriously overgrown with undergrowth that even if you trample through the bushes and grass, you will not be able to see much. For example, the Yoshinoguchi Bailey was so overgrown, I decided not to venture into the bush to see pretty much nothing. For castle enthusiasts who love seeing ishigaki (stone walls) and ruins of some of the gates, this is one heck of a castle ruin. I walked from Tsubosakayama Station up to the top. It is a 5km walk with the last 1.5km or so being a single track climb up the hill. If you go, the asphalt road runs out a little after the Kuromon ruin (not much left, but there is a sign saying that the Kuromon was here). The trailhead starts a bit after that. If you take the trail, you will eventually get to the Ninomon ruin with a water moat to one side. This is signposted. Next, you will come to the Sannomon ruin, but it is not signposted, so you will walk right past it without knowing. Even with a map of the castle, I had to backtrack to find it. After that, you will go through a series of ruin gates like Yabamon, Udamon etc before you get to the Ninomaru (2nd Bailey). Once you get there, you will see the ishigaki that is usually featured in snapshots of Takatori Castle. The webmaster has recommended going in spring or autumn. I would also recommend going in early or late winter when the undergrowth has withered a little. By walking up the hill, you can really appreciated how knackered the attackers could become before they even got to the serious parts of the castle. This castle ruin has more ishigaki and gate ruins than Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle, but Bitchu-Matsuyama still retains its original wooden keep. Both of these mountaintop castles are fabulous places to visit. For those considering visiting Yamato-Koriyama Castle on the same day, it is possible to do both Takatori Castle and Yamato-Koriyama Castle in one day, but you will have to start early. I spent almost 6 hours at Takatori, which included the hike up and down the hill plus walking around the castle site and the town below. After that, I did make it to Yamato-Koriyama Castle at around 4pm. The original Ninomon is still around. It is now the gate to Kojima Temple. There is also the reconstructed Matsunomon on the way up to the trail to the castle.
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Takatori, Nara Pref.
Takatori Castle views
stone walls
Stone walls Stone walls of the Tsubosakaguchi Gate
Stone walls of the Tsubosakaguchi Gate. Stone walls of the Otemon
Stone walls of the Jusankan Tamon Yagura Gate Stone walls of the Jusankan Tamon Yagura Gate
Stone walls of the Ninomaru Bailey Stone walls of the Ninomaru bailey
Panorama of the stone walls Honmaru stone walls
Stone walls stone walls of the Honmaru bailey
Stone walls of the Honmaru entrance yagura foundation in the lower Honmaru
Entrance to the upper Honmaru Bailey Entrance and main keep foundation
Main keep foundation honmaru panorama
Honmaru entrance Inside the Honmaru entrance
Main keep foundation and honmaru walls Nagayamon gate from one of the lord's homes
Nagayamon from a samurai home Nagayamon gate
CG map map