|English Name||Arato Castle|
|Castle Condition||No main keep but other buildings|
|Designations||Top 100 Mountaintop Castles, Local Historic Site|
|Historical Period|| Pre Edo Period
|Access||Togura Sta. (Shinano Tetsudo); 1700 yen taxi|
|Location||Chikuma, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 28' 48", 138° 8' 12"|
|Visits||October 16, 2008|
Arato Castle was built by the Yamada clan as retainers for the Murakami around 1524. It became the focal point of the battles between Takeda Shingen and Murakami Yoshikiyo. In 1548, Yamada Kunimasa, the lord of Arato Castle was killed in a battle at Toishi Castle. His son, Kunitsugu, also perished in the battle at Katsurao Castle in 1553. With the fall of Katsurao Castle, the Yamada clan were destroyed and Takeda Shingen chose his retainer Yashiro Masakuni as the lord of Arato Castle. From 1553-1564, Arato Castle was involved in several skirmishes during the Battles of Kawanakajima. After the destruction of the Takeda clan in 1582, Arato Castle and it lord, Yashiro Hidemasa, came under the control of Uesugi Kagekatsu. In 1584, Yashiro turned on the Uesugi and made a secret pact with Tokugawa Ieyasu. Yashiro fled to Arato Castle but was attacked and destroyed by the Uesugi forces. After this the castle was decommissioned and no longer used.
This is a castle I've wanted to visit for a long time. It splendidly recreates the feeling of a Sengoku Period mountaintop castle. It was also used as the location for filming several scenes from the NHK drama Furin Kazan.