Iwamura Castle 岩村城
Founder Kato Kagekado
Year 1185 (?)
Type Mountaintop
Condition Ruins
Alternate Name Kirigajo
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Historical Value Top 100 Castles
Location Ena, Gifu Pref
Map Google Map
Access Iwamura Sta. (Akechi Tetsudo), 10 min. walk
Website Ena Tourist Association
Visited May 2, 2014
Visitor Info. The Iwamura History Museum is open 9am-5pm, but closes at 4pm from Dec-Mar. Closed Monday's except holidays, closed the day after holidays, and Dec 28-Jan 4. 300 yen. | Time Required: 120 mins
Notes For one of the Top 3 mountain Castles, this is much easier to get to than Matsuyama or Takatori Castles. This site also exceeded my expectations with much more stone walls and former gates all along the path up the mountain. The many signs with graphics and explanations also made this a fun place to visit. I would recommend going early before most of the shops open or tourists come so you can get pictures of the old buildings and castle town before it's cluttered with tourists. There are plenty of old shops but I was disappointed at the lack of former samurai homes.

The history of Iwamura Castle dates back to the Kamakura Period when Kato Kagekado, a retainer of Minamoto no Yoritomo founded the castle. However, it is lkely that Kato stayed with the Minamoto in Kamakura and the first person to actually go to Iwamura and build the castle was his son Toyama Kagetomo who came in 1195. The Toyama continued to rule until the Sengoku Period.

Toyama Kageto, the last Toyama lord, ruled Iwamura as a retainer of of Oda Nobunaga. Iwamura Castle was besieged by Takeda Shingen in 1570, but with the help of Nobunaga it was successfully defended. Toyama Kageto suddenly died of illnes in 1571 leaving only his young adopted son (Nobunga's fifth son) and his wife (Nobunaga's aunt).

Akiyama Nobutomo, under the command of Takeda Shingen, took advantage of this weakness and attacked again in 1572. This time Kageto's widow negotiated a surrender of the castle. She agreed to wed Nobutomo for her own protection and sent her adopted son (Nobunaga's son) off to be cared for by Takeda Shingen.

After the crushing defeat to Oda and Tokugawa forces at Nagashino in 1575, the Takeda power was severely cripppled. Oda took this opportunity to take back Iwamura Castle. After a 5 month siege, Nobutomo negotiated a surrender that guaranteed their lives would be spared. Nobunaga however did not honor their truce and executed Nobutomo and his wife (Nobunaga's aunt) at the Nagara River by upside-down hanging. This cruel punishment, normally dealt to traitors, was a sign of Nobunaga's anger at his son being sent to Takeda.

Kawajiri Hidetaka, who first ruled Iwamura Castle under Nobunaga rebuilt much of the castle to it's modern structure. The castle was ruled by various lords until it was dismantled in 1873 under the castle abolishment law. Iwamura Castle is famous as one of the three best mountaintop castles and is also one of the top 100.

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  • ART    May 27, 2017 at 01:34 AM
    This castle is brilliant. The stone ruins are extensive, there are some reconstructed buildings (and there is an original structure relocated from the Iwamura Domain School), and the castle town is incredibly well preserved. There is a drive to reconstruct more castle buildings. You can put money in a castle-shaped box. Whilst walking through the castle site you encounter signs detailing what was where. The signs are multilingual and show Edo Period depictions of the former structures. There is also an augmented reality app by the looks of it. I didn't use this as I had limited time and I'm not the most tech savvy, but I watched a video presentation in town which had CGI mock-ups of the castle as it was back in the day. This contributes vastly to appreciating the castle. In town I found the "Onna Joshu" sake for a souvenir, it's quite sweet.
  • noopy2476    November 03, 2015 at 09:04 PM
    I visited Iwamura Castle with my wife Nov 1st, when Iwamura Jouka Okage Matsuri was held. We visited and enjoyed Iwamura Brewery and Matsuuraken, Japanese confectionary in old castle town as well as Iwamura castle splendid stone wall . We bought Onnajosyu Sake ( Lady of the castle) and Amazake for souvenir. Casle and castle town is tightly connected. therefore we should check not only castle but castle town. So we could enjoy visiting castle.
  • Anonymous    May 03, 2012 at 04:53 AM
    Thanks for an interesting entry. As it happens, I recently watched Kurosawa's Kagemusha, which is set in the same time period as the information here, the events leading up to the battle of Nagashino. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kagemusha
  • RaymondW on My Page    August 18, 2011 at 05:47 PM
    This is not an easy castle to get to by public transport. It takes around 2 hours from Nagoya and almost 4.5 hours from Kyoto City if you are just taking local trains. Along with Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle and Takatori Castle, some people consider Iwamura Castle (721m) to be one of the Top Three Mountaintop Castles in Japan. There is an alternative list of the Top Five Mountaintop Castles, which includes a different set of five castles. Anyway, I digress. If you like your yamashiros, this is a pretty cool site to visit. There is less ishigaki here than at Takatori Castle, but the site is better maintained, so most of the stone walls and ruins are not covered by undergrowth. Plenty to see for the ishigaki fan. In absolute elevation, Iwamura Castle is higher up, but Takatori Castle has a bigger elevation difference between the castle town and the honmaru (around 400m.) Entry to the castle grounds is free, but if you want to visit the museum (where you can also get the 100 Meijo Stamp), it costs 300yen. I bought a reprint of an old castle map (300yen) and a castle booklet (in Japanese only, 300yen). The museum is okay featuring some old Matsudaira armour, weapons, calligraphy, documents, old castle maps, and paintings of the castle. It is around a 20-minute walk from the train station to the castle museum and trailhead. There are a few samurai residences which are open to the public. They are on the main street of the old castle town leading up to the castle. The castle site can easily be seen from the train station as there is a mock-up of a castle turret on one of the upper baileys.
  • Annonymous    March 26, 2010 at 04:07 AM
    What battles took place at this castle? Who built the castle? Why was it built? Please answer!
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Ena, Gifu Pref
Iwamura Castle views
Honmaru stone walls castle town
Castle town masugata. Drum tower and gate
Drum Tower and gate small uzumimon style gate
Palace Gate bailey
Vaiew from the first gate Ichinomon Gate walls
Small bailey before the Toki Gate Toki Gate
Stone walls near the Toki Gate Otemon Gate stone walls
Hachiman Bailey stone walls Bailey and stone walls
yagura stone walls Hachiman bailey stone walls
Hishi Yagura stone walls Honmaru stone walls
Honmaru stone walls Honmaru Uzumimon Gate stone walls
Honmaru Uzumimon Gate stone walls Honmaru stone walls
Honmaru Uzumimon Gate stone walls Honmaru Uzumimon Gate stone walls
Honmaru stone walls Honmaru stone walls
Honmaru stone walls Honmaru Bailey
Honmaru stone walls Honmaru stone walls
Honmaru stone walls Honmaru stone walls
Honmaru stone walls East bailey stone walls
Honmaru stone walls Honmaru stone walls
Honmaru stone walls Map