Kannonji Castle

From Jcastle.info
Castle Properties
English Name Kannonji Castle
Japanese Name 観音寺城
Alternate Names
Founder Sasaki clan
Year Founded 1335 (?)
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Top 100 Castles, Top 100 Mountaintop Castles, National Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period


Features trenches, stone walls
Visitor Information
Access Azuchi Sta. (JR Tokaido Line)
Visitor Information If you enter or exit through Kuwanomi Temple you'll need to pay the admission fee of 300 yen. Hours are 900-1630.
Time Required 4 hrs
Website http://www.town.azuchi.shiga.jp/tourist/01.html
Location Azuchi, Shiga Prefecture
Coordinates 35° 8' 44", 136° 9' 47"
Admin Visits
Year Visited 2011
Visits November 26, 2011
Added 2007
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Kannonji14.jpg


History

It's not known exactly when this castle was built but the oldest records show it existed as early as 1335 and was probably built by the Sasaki. At one point during the Onin War the castle was turned over to the Ashikaga for a short term.

The Rokkaku rebuilt much of the castle during the Sengoku Period, but they gradually lost power and the castle was abandoned. In 1560, Rokkaku Yoshikata lost an important battle to the Asai Clan. The execution of Goto Katatoyo in 1563 created much dissention among the Rokkaku retainers. When Nobunaga took control of the region in 1568, the Rokkaku were simply swept aside and they fled the castle. After Nobunaga built Azuchi Castle just a few kilometers away, Kannonji Castle was most likely abandoned but some stories say it was still used in a minor capacity.

The original castle nearly covered the mountain with baileys, stone walls and earthen walls. It was one of the most extensive mountaintop castles built.

Visit Notes

From Azuchi Sta. rent a bicycle and get a map that will show you how to get to the Kuwanomi Temple (桑實寺), itself an important cultural property. From there it's a beautiful walk up a stone paved mountain path to the main part of the castle. It's almost a 60 min walk straight up so wear good shoes and be prepared.

This was one of the most fun castle sites that I've visited. I like castles and hiking so this was perfect. There are ruins scattered all over the mountaintop in varying states and some of the trails are not well marked. Even though it was a fairly busy day with many people visiting the temples and enjoying some autumn hiking in the good weather, there were trails that had no people on them too. I will definitely go back sometime, with a better map and take my time exploring all the ruins. Despite the long time I spent there, I think I still missed some things even in the areas I did visit.

Japanese Notes

安土駅前で自転車を借りると観音寺城への地図がもらえます。桑実寺から歩き始めるのが一番良さそうです。桑実寺も重要分解材です。お寺から等城跡までは徒歩役60分です。道は石段の多いちょと険しい道ですが、歩きやすい靴を履いていきましょう。

観音寺城は今まで最も楽しいお城の一つでした。ハイキングも好きだし、お城も好きなので最適です。山中の所々に石垣がいろいろな状態で残っていて、一部の道もわかりにくいです。この秋晴れの日に登山と紅葉を楽しんでいる人も多かったけれど、誰もいない道もありました。面白くてまた行きたいと思います。今度はもっと詳しい地図を持って、ゆっくり回りたいです。

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2.21
(14 votes)
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FurinkazanHatamoto

5 months ago
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I saw a model of the kuruwa of this castle in the Shiga Prefectural Archeological museum. This was a very impressive castle. But today it isn't. I went through the Kuwanomidera grounds(fee still 300¥). But after the temple, the trail likes abandoned. There are fallen trees across it. From recent rainfall some sections of the stones are washed away. In some places i was literally walking in a small creek. Then i arrived at the hon no shiro and made a tour around it. I saw the signposts with the names of 4 baileys, including the hon no shiro. There were several other kuruwa, but without names. Since i got a map at the bicycle rental, with only the names of the 4 signposted kuruwa, i couldn't make out which was what.

I saw nobody on this site. It was a very big contrast with Azuchijô. If this site wasn't in the proximity of Azuchijô, i would probably not have gone.
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ARTHatamoto

10 months ago
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I did it backwards it seems: i went first through kannonshoji and then exited via kuwanomidera, costing 800yen in total. Going via kuwanomidera and retracing your tracks is best.
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Etienne21Peasant

23 months ago
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Since September 1st 2015, entering the Kannonshoji Temple costs 500 Yen. If you come from the Kuwanomiji Temple, visit the castle and then arrive at the Kannonshoji Temple, you can visit it for free but you will have to pay the 500 Yen if you decide to go out the temple (cross the reception desk) and takes the stairs. If you turn back to the castle after visiting the temple you won't have to pay the 500 Yen.
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Brezza.di.marePeasant

51 months ago
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I appriciate That It is known by foreigners!

It's not known so much in Japan.
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ThomasVPeasant

70 months ago
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I absolutely loved visiting this castle. I went in february and I didn't encounter a single soul during the hours I was there, which was pretty magical in itself. I took the route up the mountain via Kuwanomi dera, but I had no idea of the entire layout of the castle so I only really saw the honmaru. However, on the path from the honmaru to the Kannonshoji temple, there was a small overgrown trail on the left that went to the very top of the Kinugasa mountain, which offerend one of the best views of lake Biwa, mount Azuchi and a whole lot more. I plan to go back as soon as I get back to Japan. A highly recommended castle site!
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RaymondWHatamoto

74 months ago
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There are some proper trails linking the major baileys. The bigger baileys on the southwestern side like Ikedamaru (signposted) and Hiraimaru (signposted) plus the Honmaru (signposted) are easy to get to, but the ones on the northern side, with the exception of Sangokumaru and Awajimaru, are not signposted. On the trail (parts of it a bit overgrown in summer and with lots of spiders) running along the northeastern ridgeline of the castle site, it is fairly easy to make out a number of baileys from the trail. For those thinking of hitting this yamashiro ruin, I recommend doing it in late autumn to early spring when all the undergrowth has died back a bit, and the spiders are not out in force. This is not a popular castle ruin (probably hasn't featured in a NHK drama yet.) In the four hours that I was there with my GF, we only came across five other people visiting the castle ruin and none of them on the northeastern trail.
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JcastleHatamoto

74 months ago
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Thanks Raymond. Are there proper trails through all those baileys? Are they at least well mapped and marked?
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RaymondWHatamoto

74 months ago
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Went back to this castle ruin again today. I have now visited all the major baileys at this site, but there are still scores of overgrown minor baileys that I may have missed. This castle ruin has the potential to at least rival if not better than Odani Castle Ruin as it has lots of ishigaki (stone walls) around the major baileys built by the Rokkaku Clan after they took over the castle from the Sasaki Clan. This castle site is definitely worth a visit for the yamashiro fans, but you need to give yourself at least 3 hours to enjoy this vast castle ruin. I spent over 4 hours there today. It is a little overgrown in parts and not very well signposted.
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RaymondWHatamoto

78 months ago
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No worries, mate. I have benefited from other people's experience and insights at some castle sites here on Jcastle. It's cool that people are sharing their experiences of visiting castle sites here. There are plenty of Japanese blogs about castles in Japan, but this is one of the few websites in English for those of us who like Japanese castles but aren't so proficient in the language and thus find it hard to get info about castles sites.
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A22cricketAshigaru

78 months ago
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For RaymondW, thanks for the info. about the map. Also thanks for the great details you put up about the area. They were really helpful.
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RaymondWHatamoto

78 months ago
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a22cricket, glad you like Kannonji Castle Ruin and found my description helpful. You can also get the Meijo 100 stamp at Kuwanomi Temple. I'll probably go again in autumn as I know that I have missed some of the baileys at this massive castle complex on my earlier visits.
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A22cricketAshigaru

78 months ago
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Kannosho-Ji is North of the Honmaru. My mistake, banish me to the dungeon.
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A22cricketAshigaru

78 months ago
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Went to Kannonji on June 7th with the intention of visiting Omi Hachiman later in the day. Big mistake. Kannonji definitley deserves a full day. You could sneak in some of the museums in town or Azuchi castle the same day if you have a bike, but I was walking and checking out parts of the town I haven't been to. The route I took was from Kuwanomi-Ji which is built on the stone walls and staircases of the old castle. At the top of the stairs is the temple (300 yen admission) and the path to the immediate right leads to the old main gate and location where the tower used to be. The complete path from the bottom to the top down the other side is much longer than I expected, about three hours or more ( I wasn't keeping a watch on time). Just outside the main gate is a staircase with the well located nearby, per Raymond W.'s description which is what I was using for a guide. Continuing south is Kannosho-Ji which has the 100 best castles of Japan stamp inside the main hall. Also nearby are restrooms and vending machines. This temple is also built on the old walls and stairs. There is also a great view of the plains and mountains from here. I would definitely recommend a full day.
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RaymondWHatamoto

81 months ago
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I went to this castle ruin on the last weekend of February. It’s my second visit, but this time armed with a better map found on a Japanese website, I was able to suss out most of the castle site. As mentioned above by the site administrator, it is quite a sprawling complex. However, a lot of is overgrown and hard to find. Unlike Odani Castle Ruin in northern Shiga, the baileys at Kannonji are poorly signposted. Only the Honmaru (本丸) and Hiraimaru (平井丸) have any signs. I was able to identify the following baileys with certainty based on the map that I had: Honmaru, Itoumaru (伊藤丸), Hiraimaru, and Ikedamaru (池田丸). These are all located in the northern part of the castle ruin. I think I also found the Sawadamaru (澤田丸), but I could not be 100% sure. The other baileys like Sangokumaru (三国丸), Shindomaru (新藤丸), and Sanimaru (三井丸) in the central and southern parts of the castle ruin were really hard to identify. I did come across some other baileys, but I could not reconcile them with what I saw on my map. If you want to see ishigaki (stone walls), there are ample remains in the baileys that I found on the northern side. To get to the Itoumaru (Itou Bailey), you need to get off the regular trail and trample through the bush above the Honmaru to get there. The two times that I have been to this castle, I have gone there by bicycle from JR Azuchi Station. I brought my own foldable bike, but you can easily rent one at a shop in front of the station. I accessed this castle from the Kuwanomi Temple (桑實寺) trailhead. Entry into the temple is 300yen. If you go to Kuwanomi Temple, the path that leads up to it about a third of the way up the mountain can be found about 500-600m from the museum which houses the reconstructed top two floors of Azuchi Castle. This certainly beats cycling 5km+ to the trailheads on the other side of the mountain. The path from Kuwanomi Temple will eventually take you to the gate ruin that leads into the Honmaru. Just before you go into the honmaru, you will find some steps leading down the hill on your right. Go down these steps, and you will find the remains of a well and more ishigaki. I did not notice this the first time that I went to Kannonji Castle. This castle ruin is not for everyone, but if you like your castle ruins, are happy with just seeing some ishigaki, stone stairs and some earthen banks, and like going bushwalking, then this is a great place to spend three or four hours. BTW, there is a lot more ishigaki left here than at Odani Castle Ruin, but Odani is much better signposted with each major bailey clearly marked and explained.
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KrisGunshi

85 months ago
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I got really very lost cycling to Kannonji from Azuchi – the man at the bicycle rental had given me about 7 different maps but they were all quite small for the area covered and the sign-posting wasn't so great. In any case, I walked my bike up a long, tortuous road and when I got to a toll gate the two women inside told me it would take probably another hour if I went this way. (At least the way back down was easy). If you are going by bicycle probably the easiest way is to go via Ishi-dera Raku-ichi, a site commemorating the free market system started there in the 15th century, (where the 100Meijo stamp is; they also sell local produce and food souvenirs). Quite near here there is a giant sign on the hillside with an arrow pointing to the ruins.