The early history of this castle is unknown. It was held by the Aoyagi clan who were retainers of the Ogasawara. When the Ogasawara fell to Takeda Shingen, the Aoyagi became retainers of Takeda. During the first Battle of Kawanakajima (1553), Shingen used the castle as his base. During the battle Uesugi forces set fire to the castle. After the death of Takeda Katsuyori, Aoyagi Yorinaga switched allegiance to Uesugi Kagekatsu. There were some skirmishes between the Uesugi with Aoyagi on their side, but eventually Uesugi pulled back from Aoyagi Castle and Aoyagi Yorinaga made peace with the Ogasawara. However, Aoyagi was called to Fukashi Castle (Matsumoto Castle) in 1587 and executed. The Ogasawara held the castle briefly but it was abandoned shortly thereafter.
There are 2 ways up to Aoyagi Castle, follow the road that takes you up the side to the ridge at the reconstructed gate and watchtower, or go to the base of the mountain and follow the switchbacks straight up the face of the mountain.After walking back down, I’m pretty sure it was worth the cost of the cab ride (1700 yen) to take the road to the parking lot by the gate and tower.
From the reconstructed gate and watchtower, it’s a pretty easy trail that crosses several baileys and trenches until you get to the central kuruwa. The central kuruwa has a well defined entrance and a nice section of stone walls. The view from the edge across the valley and on to the snow capped mountains is incredible. The site is well maintained and signposted. If you don’t have to walk up it’s an easy visit. At the base of the castle was also a well developed post town of the Zenkoji Highway. Unfortunately, there are no well maintained buildings left to see.
|English Name||Aoyagi Castle|
|Castle Condition||No main keep but other buildings|
|Designations||Prefectural Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Features||gates, turrets, trenches, stone walls, walls|
|Visitor Information||Mountain, open any time|
|Time Required||120 mins|
|Location||Chikuhokumura, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 25' 51", 138° 2' 2"|
|Visits||November 1, 2015|
|Added to Jcastle||2016|