|English Name||Haibara Castle|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Designations||Prefectural Historic Site|
|Historical Period|| Pre Edo Period
|Features||trenches, stone walls|
|Access||Matsumoto Sta. (Shinonoi Line), 2700 yen taxi; or Hirata Sta. (Shinonoi Line) 70 min. walk|
|Visitor Information||Mountain, open any time|
|Time Required||180 mins|
|Location||Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 11' 19", 138° 0' 55"|
|Visits||October 31, 2015|
Haibara Castle was built by the Haibara clan, retainers of the Ogasawara clan. It fell to Takeda Shingen at the same time as nearby Hayashiohjo Castle, Yamabe Castle and Kirihara Castle. After the death of Takeda Katsuyori, Ogasawara Sadayoshi returned to Matsumoto and renovated Haibara Castle. The ruins we see today are from this time period.
The entrance to the castle is well signposted from the Rengeji Temple, but once you pass the gate in the fence there are very few signs except for a few telling you things you could figure out by yourself like 堀切. I would have appreciated some maps or trail signs more. In fact, you really should get a map from the book 長野の山城ベスト５０ or 信濃の山城と館. The castle ruins are not well signposted and the trails are easy to lose. I got quite lost and shot well past the castle ruins once too.
After you pass the fence (intended to keep wild animals out), take an immediate left and go up the mountain. There is another path that looks like it goes straight out in front of the gate up the valley, but it disappears so I had to double back. A sign here would have been nice !! So, follow the ridge for a bit and you’ll start seeing castle remnants. Haibara Castle has few stone walls but it has some of the most huge, complex and simply amazing trenches and earthworks of any castle I've seen. The photos really don't do them justice, especially if you think that they have naturally filled in up to 2 meters over the last 400 years.
Since I stayed the night in Matsumoto, I took a taxi in the early morning (2700 yen) to the Rengeji Temple and took my bike with. I actually started this hike before 7am and was back down and on my bike on the way to the Hayashi castles about 10am. The route to Hayashiko Castle is mostly downhill so it was a fun and easy ride.