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.
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.
|English Name||Kannonji Castle|
|Year Founded||1335 (?)|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Designations||Top 100 Castles, Top 100 Mountaintop Castles, National Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Features||trenches, stone walls|
|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|
|Location||Azuchi, Shiga Prefecture|
|Coordinates||35° 8' 44", 136° 9' 47"|
|Visits||November 26, 2011|