Nihonmatsu Castle 二本松城
Founder Hatakeyama Clan
Year 1394-1427
Type Mountaintop
Condition Other Buildings
Alternate Name Kasumiga-jo
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles
Location Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture
Map Google Map
Access Nihonmatsu Station (Tohoku Honsen), 15 minute walk
Website Nihonmatsu City Website
Visited November 1997, September 13, 2003
Notes The honmaru and it's stone walls site on top of the mountain a short hike from the reconstructed Minowa Gate you see in the picture above. It is definitely worth the trip up to see not only this but the awesome view of the surrounding area. The Chrysanthemum Festival which begins in October and runs into November was also quite impressive.

The castle currently known as Kasumiga-jo (Nihonmatsu-jo) actually encompasses two different castles. At the top of the hill are the remnants of the original castle built by the Hatakeyama in the Muromachi period (1333-1573) somewhere between 1394-1427. The exact date is unknown. At the base of the hill are the remnants of the castle built by the Niwa clan. Each of these castles experienced its own separate demise.

Hatakeyama Yoshitsugu captured Date Terumune, Date Masamune 's father, in 1585 and tried to take him back to Nihonmatsu. Upon hearing this, Masamune, who was out hunting, took off on his horse and caught up with Hatakeyama Yoshitsugu near the Abukuma River. He and his men shot the whole party dead and Terumune was killed in the struggle.

Hearing of the weakness of Nihonmatsu, a group of samurai from Hitachi (Ibaraki prefecture), including men from the Satake, Ashina, Iwaki and Ishikawa clans, set out to take Nihonmatsu for themselves. They clashed with the Date forces near present day Motomiya (between Koriyama and Nihonmatsu). This was known as the battle of Hitotoribashi. The battle ended in a standstill and Kasumiga-jo stood independent from both forces.

In April of the following year (1586) Date Masamune's forces once again laid seige to Kasumiga-jo. In July the son of Hatakeyama Yoshitsugu set fire to the castle and fled to Aizu. Thus the original castle at Nihonmatsu met its interesting demise.

The second castle was then built at the base of the hill and controlled by various families loyal to the Date, with the Niwa clan controlling it from 1643 until the Meiji Restoration.

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  • ART    October 27, 2016 at 11:14 PM
    Kasumigajō is a vast mountain top castle (yamashiro) with incredible stone walls. The honmaru (main bailey) is cased in tall, sun-catching ishigaki (stone walls) with steep angles and graceful curves, in its proportions looming over the mountain like a tremendous ziggurat. The Tenshukakudai (donjon base), Nishiyaguradai (west sentry platform) and Hagashiyaguradai (east sentry platform) are accessed via the wide stone steps which lead up into the elevated honmaru. I wasn’t able to do a complete lap around the outside of the honmaru, per my custom, because the west side was defended fiercely by huge bees, but they did not fly as high as the honmaru itself. Beneath the honmaru one can see older, more gently sloping ishigaki built in the Anōzumi style. These older blocks either are roughly worked or put in place simply as they were quarried, and are darker. The contrast between the lower and upper ishigaki demarcates the historical phases in the construction of the castle. The Ōtemon-ato is another steep stone foundation, formerly part of a gatehouse, which appears out of the wooded mountside as seemingly long unseen and forgotten. The castle’s most impressive feature is the reconstructed Minowamon (gatehouse) at the base of the mountain before the lower and upper sannomaru (third baileys). There is also a 17th century villa structure on site.
  • kiddus_i2003 on My Page    March 27, 2016 at 09:57 PM
    Just wished I had more time , so much has been added and much more being repaired. The Honmaru walls are complete and very impressive with spectacular 360 views.
  • furinkazan on My Page    May 11, 2015 at 09:15 PM
    After Shirakawajô i went to this one. What can I say more than the other comments? The hike to the site from the station is pleasant. The site itself is vast. There are a lot of trails, roads, paths and stairs all over the place. Like already stated below, a lot of explanation boards, with english translations, really thumbs up, are present. I think i didn't saw them all, because of the maze of trails. The view from the tenshukakudai, which is completely repaired, is astonishing. I met my first japanese snake on the site. I first thought it was a big twig, about 80cm long, on the stair, but when I got my foot over it, it spurred into the grass. I asked a passerby if these are dangerous, but apparently they aren't. 'No poison' he told me.
  • Eric    September 25, 2012 at 08:20 PM
    The construction work that is under progress is actually fixing damage from the quake in 2011.
  • Ben    September 25, 2012 at 03:21 PM
    We visited Nihonmatsu in early September. The grounds were really worth the visit. They are in the process of completely reconstructing the tenshu walls, so this was blocked off -- but it looks like they are getting close to completion, so this will make it even more worthwhile.
  • Usagi on My Page    January 02, 2012 at 07:44 PM
    Visited this castle in combination with Shirakawa. The grounds of the two castle ruins associated with Nihonmatsu are well worth the visit. Kris has a good write up of the features of this castle and I agree walking through the grounds as the sun is setting has a magical feel.
  • Eric    January 02, 2011 at 10:18 PM
    fixed. Thanks Kris!
  • Kris    December 31, 2010 at 09:18 PM
    Above link also seems to be broken. Try
  • Kris on My Page    December 31, 2010 at 09:17 PM
    I walked to the castle from the station – the rekishikan, site of the Otemon, and an old-fashioned sweet store are on the way. The stone steps were a brilliant white and the water near the wisteria arbor was frozen except where the 7 step waterfall splashed into the frozen lake. Along with the white-topped umbrella pine there were many different types of pine trees at Nihonmatsu, making for a nice contrast of green and white. Also, there was something hauntingly magnificent in the sun sinking down over the western mountains and filling the snow-covered keep with light and shadows. They had several bilingual signs explaining the historical significance of the stone walls. (Thumbs up). In the grand Japanese tradition of uta-makura and top 100 lists, Nihonmatsu is one of the top 100 castles, the top 100 scenic places for cherry blossom viewing, but it also has one of the Nihon San-I, the 3 wells of Japan. That was a first for me; Hikage-no-Ido (the well of sunbeams) forms a trio with Tsukikage-no-Ido (the well of moonbeams) and Hoshikage-no-Ido (the well of starlight). The well sits, singularly unimpressive, beside a small shrine to Tengu, but the names really stirred my imagination. Next to the carpark is the 'Stone of Exhortation' – another great name! In 1749, Takahiro Niwa engraved his exhortation to retainers on a block of granite to remind them to be humble. The idea was copied from China but I think it is a good idea – we should have more exhortation stones around.
  • Webmaster    June 21, 2009 at 06:24 PM
    a lot of museums in Japan tend to be closed on Mondays unless it's a National Holiday. For Nihonmatsu Castle I think it is just a park so you can get in anytime, but for Komine Castle you should definitely go when it is open so you can go inside the nicely reconstructed keep. You can try to call or email them from their website
  • Anonymous    June 19, 2009 at 09:00 AM
    I am thinking of heading up to Nihonmatsujo and Kominejo on a Monday. I have been disappointed on a few trips to other castles, because a lot of castles seem to be closed on Mondays. I can't seem to find any information to say if the above 2 castles will be closed. I don't want to waste another expensive trip to suffer the same fate as before. Does anyone know if they will be open?
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Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture
Nihonmatsu Castle views
yagura, stone walls stone walls and smaller walls atop them near the main gate
Tale of young warriors who died defending the castle Honmaru stone walls
closer view of the honmaru stone walls honmaru main entrance
picture from inside the honmaru Minowa Gate