It's not clear when the castle was first founded on this site, but it was the Kazurayama family center and home from some time in the latter Muromachi Period. Since the Kazurayama lands border the Imagawa, Takeda, and Hojo, they were continuously in a difficult position to maintain friendly relations with all the clans. In 1568, the Kazurayama took clear sides with the Takeda who were pushing into the Suruga region. The Hojo and Imagawa sided together and temporarily took control of Kazurayama Castle from the Kazurayama/Takeda. The castle was eventually taken back, but then Takeda forced Kazurayama Ujimoto to adopt his 6th son. Ujimoto was accused of treason and inciting rebellion in 1573 and executed. With Ujimoto's death, compete control of the castle was effectively gained by the Takeda. The castle was abandoned in 1582 after the Takeda clan perished.
This site is actually very special for castle fans and castle research because all three components of a typical Sengoku Period castle fortification are well preserved. The main Kazurayama Castle in these pictures is a mountaintop castle and the primary wartime fortification. The Yakata (palace) grounds is the peace time lightly fortified lord's home. There is also another mountaintop fortification another 1.5km deeper into the mountains. This is the tsume no shire (詰の城), the last defensive holdout of the castle. I did not have enough information and was not able to go out to visit this castle ruin yet, but will try it again some day.
This little castle was better than I had expected. I'd like to give it more than 1 star because the grounds are kept up very well and it's well signposted. It's a place that wouldn't normally be on many people's radar but if you are nearby or a big castle fan, it is worth a trip. I visited in June but I noticed that the grounds were full of maple trees so I imagine the fall colors will be very nice. In the Honmaru there is a sign "The best view of Mt. Fuji in Japan". It was cloudy the day I was there, but I don't doubt it would be a great view. I would recommend to visit in the fall for red leaves and a nice Mt Fuji. Also be sure to stop by the Kazurayama Yakata (Kazurayama family home/palace). It's just off the main road before you reach the temple. Many people list this up as a separate castle but I'm combining it with the main castle.
|English Name||Kazurayama Castle|
|Alternate Names||Katsurayama Castle|
|Year Founded||Muromachi Period (1336-1573)|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Designations||Local Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Access||Iwanami Sta (Gotenba Line), 45 min walk|
|Visitor Information||Trails open any time, follow the path through the cemetery to the left of the temple.|
|Time Required||45 mins for the castle and 15 mins for the yakata grounds.|
|Location||Susono, Shizuoka Prefecture|
|Coordinates||35° 12' 22", 138° 53' 36"|
|Visits||June 20, 2014|