Hirai Kanayama Castle
|English Name||Hirai Kanayama Castle|
|Alternate Names||Hirai Tsumeshiro|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Designations||Prefectural Historic Site|
|Historical Period|| Pre Edo Period
|Features||trenches, stone walls|
|Access||Gunma Fujioka Sta (Hachiko Line); 20 min bus (Kamidaira bus to Hino Shogakko Mae)|
|Visitor Information||mountain trails open anytime|
|Time Required||120 mins|
|Location||Fujioka, Gunma Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 12' 51", 139° 1' 3"|
|Visits||April 15, 2017|
In 1438 Uesugi Norizane was the Kanto Kanrei (governor of the Kanto provinces directly under the Ashikaga Shogun). When discord erupted between him and the Ashikaga he fled to the Kozuke region and built Hirai Kanayama Castle. In 1467, when the Onin War broke out, Uesugi Akisada established a new castle, Hirai Castle, from which the Uesugi would continue to govern until they were defeated by the Hojo in 1552. Hirai Castle is a hilltop castle and more suitable to governing a large province. Hirai Kanayama Castle remained as one of the mountaintop castles protecting the region and as the main backup castle to Hirai Castle when under siege. The castle was abandoned when the Uesugi were defeated.
There are some suspicious looking stone walls partway up the mountain. The man at the information center thought they could be from the remains of palaces built around the backside of the castle, but I think they look more like the remains of more recent farm fields.
This route to the castle is actually the rear entrance. The main entrance is the other side of the castle but that part of the base of the mountain is now a golf course. That partly explains why it is so steep and not so easy to climb here. There are some walking sticks near the trail head, if you don't have a trekking pole I suggest taking one with.
There are very few busses from the station to the castle so please check the bus schedule carefully. For this trip I got off at the Hino Elementary School (日野小学校前) bus stop to visit Hirai Kanayama Castle and then walked to Hirai Castle where I got the bus back to the train station. There is not much left to see at Hirai Castle, but it's worth the short walk to visit and it's right on the bus line back to the station. In front of the Yashima Shouten Mae (矢島商店前) bus stop there is also a small volunteer run information center (I think it's their house) and the proprietors will happily give you maps and materials about the castles. The man's father was one of the main people who surveyed Hirai Kanayama Castle. I spent a good 30 minutes chatting while waiting for the next bus.