|English Name||Imai Castle|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Designations||Local Historic Site|
|Historical Period|| Pre Edo Period
|Access||Kaneko Sta. (Hackie Line), 20 min walk|
|Visitor Information||open anytime, but not actively maintained. Only one small sign near the houses built on top of the hill.|
|Time Required||30 mins|
|Coordinates||35° 48' 37", 139° 18' 53"|
|Visits||May 24, 2015|
HistoryVery little of this castle history is known. You may see it said in some early records, and even on the sign at the site, that it belonged to the Imai Clan but these records are unreliable and no other supporting records exist. Also the multiple baileys, strategic location and deep trenches look to be more than the simple fortified home of a local leader. The castle overlooks the Kasumi River and a major road that extends out to Hachigata Castle. It was likely built to keep watch over these two important arteries. In particular, it seems likely that this area was fortified by Hojo Ujitsuna against the advances of Uesugi Norifusa around this time. It probably lost importance and was abandoned as the Hojo expanded their territory farther and built other fortifications.
This is a classic example a small Sengoku Period fortification. Apart from the major central castles of leading families, there were often many smaller forts around the territory and especially along borders that weren't very large or well developed. They served a specific purpose such as watching a road or simply being available to use in the case of attack. There was no specific lord of the castle and they were easily abandoned when they were no longer needed.
This is a surprisingly good castle ruin. It is quite small but the trenches and embankments are well preserved making it fun to visit. It is not too far from the station and a good beginner castle if you are in Tokyo and have start visiting more of these minor castle ruins. A few more signs would have been appreciated.