Kita Kumai Castle
Who first built fortifications here and when is not known. However, during the Sengoku Period the Ogasawara Clan took it over. Kumaijō fell to Takeda Shingen during his campaign to conquer Shinano, at which point the Ogasawara retreated to Hayashijō in the mountains. The Takeda utilised Kumaijō as a strategic base thereafter but it was later abandoned with their decline.
Kumaijō is a twin castle complex consisting of Kita-Kumaijō (lit. North Bear Well Castle) and Minami-Kumaijō (lit. South Bear Well Castle), although they are some distance apart. Of the two ruins those of the northern castle are much more extensive. The river valley gradually slopes up towards the mountains which hem it in and protruding out of this sloping elevation Kumaijō is arranged like a ladder or stairway. In the middle of these terraced baileys is the honmaru (main bailey). To the east are three more baileys, climbing the slope and eventually merging into it. To the west are likewise three baileys, rising above the surrounding slopes and plain.
Each bailey is separated by trenches, some very deep, and each trench slopes off into a chute on eitherside of the castle. To the south a significant trench also flanks the length of the castle, separating it from a depression which leads to a stream, and here at the point between baileys the trenches form intersections; there are at least three of these cross-shaped trenches.
Between the honmaru and the first eastern bailey is a tripple trench system. The most westerly trench is the most shallow and feels more intimately connected with the honmaru. The middle trench is the deepest and most awesome. The most easterly is also quite deep. The deepest and widest trench at the entire castle is between the honmaru and the first western bailey. It's interesting that on one side of the honmaru Kumaijō's builders developed a series of three trenches and on the other they opted for digging out one really big one. The only baileys without a trench seperating them are the second and third west baileys, which merely have an embankment between.
|English Name||Kita Kumai Castle|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Artifacts||Kuruwa, Dorui, Horikiri, Sanjuuhorikiri, Karabori|
|Access||Hirōka Station on the Chōū Main Line; walk one hour|
|Visitor Information||24/7; free|
|Time Required||two hours|
|Location||Shiojiri, Nagano Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 7' 50.95" N, 137° 58' 56.06" E|
|Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|
|Added to Jcastle||2019|