Kanayama Castle 金山城
Founder Iwamatsu Iezumi
Iwamatsu
Year 1469
Type Mountaintop
Condition Ruins
Alternate Name Ota Kanayama-jo
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles
Location Ota, Gunma Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Ota Sta. (Tobu Isezaki Line); 50 min walk
Website Kanayama Castle
Visited June 23, 2007; May 23, 2013
Visitor Info. The park is open year round. The Guidance Center is open 9am-5pm, closed Mondays except holidays, and the day following a Monday holiday. | Time Required: 180 mins
Notes Ota City has done a splendid job taking care of this historical site. The ruins are well maintained, good signs explain points of interest, and the website is very detailed. The new Information Center also enhances the experience. They've done this much already, so a little more English information would be appreciated.
History Iwamatsu Iezumi built this castle in 1469. Yokose Narishige, a retainer of the Iwamatsu family, came to rule over it 1528. Around 1565, the Yokose changed their name to Yura. Kanayama Castle was attacked several times by some of the strongest powers in the area including Uesugi Kenshin (1574), Takeda Katsuyori (1580) and Satake Yoshishige (1583). It withstood all these attacks demonstrating its tough construction and great location.

In 1584, Yura Kunishige and his brother Nagao Akinaga (lord of Tatebayashi Castle) were captured by the Hojo of Odawara. In exchange for their release, they turned over the castle to the Hojo. During Hideyoshi's campaign against the Hojo, Maeda Toshiie took over of Kanayama Castle in 1590. It was decommissioned and not used after this time.

Kanayama Castle is one of the Top 100 Castles, one of the Seven Famous Kanto Castle and a National Historical Site.

The picture above is of the Ote Koguchi, the main entrance to the castle. The gate combined with the entrance road that is bordered on both sides with stone walls and baileys is very strong and elaborate. There are few such structures throughout the country.

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  • RaymondW on My Page    November 16, 2013 at 09:11 PM
    This castle is around 5km from Ota Station on the Tobu Line. This castle ruin has a lot of restored ishigaki (stone walls) and is very well signposted. Almost all the baileys up on top of the hill have explanatory signs. This ruin is quite amazing in that one of its dry moats (a horikiri style moat) was completely hewn out of the bedrock. The “Agotome” foundation stones are another unusual aspect in the construction of its ishigaki (stone walls.) Another rare feature found on this castle is the two ponds for storing water. At most castle ruins that I have been to, they usually amount to no more than the size of several bathtubs, but these water reservoirs are decent size circular ponds. Common features of this castle ruin are the number dry moats and terraced baileys overlooking each other. I can see why Uesugi Kenshin had such a hard time trying to capture this castle and was ultimately forced to break off his siege. There is a museum at the base of the hill, and it’s free. The museum has a five-minute video about the castle, shown in a darkened room with a map of the castle and its surrounding area printed on the floor. On the walls, are various bilingual (Japanese / English) panels explaining the history of the castle. There are also several displays of certain scenes from the castle’s past as well as photos of where the stone wall remnants and restored stone walls can be found. Just outside the darkened room are two models of the castle showing sections of the castle as they appeared in the Sengoku Period. There are four different souvenir plastic A-4 files (100yen) for sale with one of them featuring the “classic shot” of Kanayama Castle showing the curved path leading to the Pond of the Sun. There is also a very comprehensive academic book about the history and archaeological excavation results of the castle ruin (2,000yen) for sale, too. It takes around 3 to 3.5 hours to do this castle site once you are at the base of the hill. At the train station, there is no visible information about the castle or how to get there, so print out your maps before making your way to Ota.
  • Eric    September 28, 2012 at 09:31 PM
    Ota Station, as mentioned above is nearest. Also, see this page for the station and map to the castle from the station: http://www.jcastle.info/castle/elevation/93
  • june    September 28, 2012 at 07:52 PM
    may I ask what train station to go to this castle?
  • Usagi on My Page    January 22, 2012 at 01:27 PM
    Easy drive from Tokyo, the mist over the mountain and snow scattered across the ground gave a great feel to these ruins. Interesting ruins to walk around, you can appreciate why this castle withstood it numerous attackers. Further excavations are still underway and can be seen, it is a huge site with good English explanations and a museum at the foot of the hill. The Daikoin shrine is also worth checking out as well.
  • Kris on My Page    November 14, 2010 at 11:53 PM
    I went in early Summer and really enjoyed Kanayama. I walked straight from the station towards the castle ruins, got suitably lost on the walking trails in the forest, and eventually found the museum. The museum was quite good for its size, they had mini dioramas of the castle and certain important scenes from its history. The walk from the museum up the Otemichi to the castle had been washed out in places by the rain and was a bit hazardous although most parts had been fixed with sandbags. I was a bit too late to see it in bloom but it looks like there is a beautiful wisteria arbor with panoramic views at the top. The ruins were atmospheric to walk around and the two pools, the pool of the sun and the pool of the moon, definitely deserve viewing. Most of the point explanation signs have quite detailed explanations in English as well. There is a reconstruction of a wooden building where an oven was discovered, believed to be a weapons storehouse and office for soldiers on duty. The ni-no-maru was fenced off when I was there to stop people from picking bamboo shoots, (really, they even had a 'don't pick the bamboo shoots sign). There is a shrine to Nitta on the site, plus as you are walking back to the station take the time to stop at nearby Kinryuji – dedicated to Yoshisada Nitta with a memorial dating from 1637 and also part of the Ota Shichifukunin meguri. Nearby Daikoin was founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu to honour the spirits of the Nitta. The 100Meijo stamp is not in the museum; it is at the top of the mountain in the rest area.
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Ota, Gunma Pref.
Kanayama Castle views
Ote Koguchi Mitsuke Demaru bailey
Mitsuke Demaru Dry moat
horikiri wooden log path
wooden log path horikiri
Deep horikiri before the stone bridge. stone bridge over a horikiri and entrance
stone walls and stone paved road wooden bridge and stone walls
Stone walls Looking back over the wooden bridge
Bailey of the lookout tower View from the lookout tower
building foundation and entrance remains of a building foundation
building foundation Baba Kuruwa (bailey)
Tsuki-no-ike pond Ote Koguchi entrance
Ote Koguchi Stone walls Main road from the entrance
reconstructed storehouse stone walls
Hi-no-ike pond honmaru bailey
Map of the inner castle grounds The mountain with the castle