Mukaihaguroyama Castle was built from 1561-1568 by Ashina Moriuji. Moriuji's main castle was at Kurokawa Castle (Aizu Wakamatsu Castle) but Mukaihaguroyama Castle was built as a satellite castle to fortify the south. It was also his personal residence after he turned over power to his son, Morioki. Morioki died in 1574 and Moriuji took Moritaka as a foster son. Moritaka was killed in 1584 and Date forces would conquer the Ashina in 1589 at the Battle of Suriagehara. After the Date moved to the Sendai area in 1590, Mukaihaguroyama Castle came under the control of Gamo Ujisato and then Uesugi Kagekatsu in 1598. The vast castle was all but abandoned at this point and only maintained in case of a siege. The castle was abandoned after the Battle of Sekigahara in 1601.
There are several ways to get to the castle, but none of the train nor bus lines are frequent so you may need to use something different each way. The park is very well maintained. Grasses are cut back and some trees are trimmed. There are a few signs, but there could be more. Notably, there were signs telling you to be careful of bears, so consider yourself warned. Mukaihaguroyama Castle was named as one of the "Next Top 100" castles and it's easy to understand why.
This castle is huge. Look at the map for an idea of the scale and the dozens of small interconnected baileys. It took me over 4 hours to visit everything. I think I walked all the groomed trails and some areas that aren't. You probably can’t get into most of the ungroomed areas, the brush is too thick.
My impression is that the castle is loosely split into 3 main areas. If you follow the maps and signs you are most likely to visit the second area first. It is the Second and Third Bailey group. This area is about halfway up the mountain in an area of roughly similar elevation. Of course it's a mountain so there are some steep areas and ups and downs but not like the top of the mountain. There are a couple big trenches and some smaller ones and there some stone wall ruins around the Otemichi road and main gate ruins.
Next, is the top of the mountain which is the Main Bailey grouping. You start walking up a steep path to the top of the mountain. There is a huge tatebori running up the mountaintop and a few more baileys of various sizes about 2/3 of the way up the mountain trail. These baileys are worth exploring. Some have foundation stones and/or dorui embankments. At the top is another great Yokobori trench around the Honmaru Bailey.
The third main area of the castle is lowest on the mountain just marked as the “north baileys” and “Moriuji's Residence”. I'm calling this the third area because there are no signs noting where it's at so I decided to stop by "quickly" on my return trip. Using the map linked above, I guessed the correct route from the road into the brush. There are no signs and no visible trails. Actually, this area was as equally interesting as the rest of the castle. There are several large interconnecting trenches, plus there are some well defined embankments around these baileys. I really don’t know why these are so underdeveloped. Maybe it will be more developed some day or at least better signposted.
|English Name||Mukaihaguroyama Castle|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Designations||Next 100 Castles|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Features||trenches, stone walls|
|Access||Aizu Hongo Sta (JR Tadami Line), 20 min walk; or 30 min bus from Aizu Wakamatsu Sta (Ban'etsu Saisen) to Information Center Mae; or Minami Wakamatsu Sta (Aizu Railway) 15 min walk.|
|Visitor Information||park, open any time|
|Time Required||240 mins|
|Location||Aizumisato, Fukushima Prefecture|
|Coordinates||37° 26' 35.92" N, 139° 54' 8.64" E|
|Visits||November 3, 2018|
|Added to Jcastle||2019|