Motosakura Castle 本佐倉城
Founder Chiba Suketane
Year late 1400's
Type Hilltop
Condition Ruins
Admin's Rating ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Location Shisui Town, Chiba Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Oosakura Sta. (Keisei Line), walk 10-20 mins
Website NPO Motosakura Castle Preservation
Visited Dec. 23, 2012
Visitor Info. park is open year round, no fees | Time Required: 75 mins
Notes This site had more to see than I expected. There are some great horikiri dry moats, and the different baileys are well defined. The town is faithfully preserving this historic site. They are continuously doing excavation work and sometimes offer guided tours or lectures. The tours often take different routes and have different themes. Refer to this website for details. Depending on the book you read it may say it takes anywhere from 10 mins to 25 mins to walk to the castle, but it depends on which part you go to first. The main entrance in the photo above is about 20 mins. The closest bailey, Settai Kuruwa, is 10 mins or less from the station and easy to find if you follow the Japanese signs from the station. Please note that the location of this castle on Google Maps is wrong. The label is (I think) at the outer bailey, Mukai Negoya Kuruwa, not the main part of the castle. I missed that bailey this time but will seek it out again, perhaps on a tour.
History In 1455, Makuwari Yasutane, a relative of the Chiba, attacked Chiba Castle and defeated the Chiba. Makuwari took the name of Chiba and his son Suketane built this new castle on the shores of Lake Inba Numa. The Chiba built a thriving castle town and continued to rule until the fall of the Hojo in 1590. At that time, the inland sea of Kasumigaura was much much larger than today including Lake Inba Numa and other nearby rivers that either no longer exist or flow differently than at that time. The location on the shore was a vital point for transportation and trade around the sea and along the Shimousa Highway. In the 1500's the Chiba aligned themselves with the very powerful Hojo to help fortify each other's borders from the Satake and the Satomi clans. The Hojo helped Chiba to further fortify the castle, namely by adding the Settai Bailey and Mukai Negoya Bailey. The castle was abandoned when Tokugawa moved to Edo.

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  • ART    October 27, 2016 at 10:54 PM
    My plan initially had been to visit 5 castle sites this day but, after going to the National Museum of History, I had only time to visit Motosakurajō after Sakurajō. Because of the name relation between these two sites, it seemed appropriate to come here next. There are remains of kuruwa (baileys), dorui (earthen embankments) and hori (trenches) visible today. I really liked that there were little signs dotted about saying exactly what archaeological remains were present, including signs indicating gates, buildings and routes in and out of baileys. There was a vending machine at the entrance to the site with an Edo-period map of the castle painted on it. There were wooden walkways and shields erected near the Eastern Mount, which showed that the locals were really putting in effort to preserving their castle site. This is always great to see. Motosakurajō is in the middle of the countryside. In the Okinomaru bailey I saw that a network of spider webs spread throughout the entire meadow, from plant to plant, like a transport network. I hadn’t seen that across such a wide area before. I also found a kabutomushi (rhinoceros beetle). It was the first time I’d seen one alive. Whilst I was watching him he managed to tip himself over (I didn’t flip him!), so I took a picture of his underside and then right-ended him.
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Shisui Town, Chiba Pref.
Motosakura Castle views
Ridge around the number 5 bailey
main entrance to the castle Inside the main entrance
Inside the main entrance. Main entrance as seen from above
#4 bailey rises in terraces. Excavations in the #4 bailey
This path leads to the #4 bailey Path to the Shiroyama and Okunoyama baileys
Path to the Shiroyama Bailey Main entrance to the Shiroyama Bailey
Inside the Shiroyama Bailey buildings marked out in the Shiroyama Bailey
Looking from the Shiroyama Obikuruwa around the Shiroyama
Around the side of the Okunoyama Bailey Parts of the #4 bailey and #3 bailey
South entrance Looking out over the #6 bailey
Settei Bailey entrance Obi Kuruwa around the Settei Bailey
Deep dry moat between the main castle compound and Settei Bailey 16m deep dry moat around the Settei Bailey
Deep horikiri, dry moat, around the Settei Bailey Map