Niitakayama Castle

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History

Prior to 1552 there was a small fort built here, but it was considered to be part of Takayama Castle’s defenses. Kobayakawa Takakage, Mori Motonari’s third son, was adopted by the Numata faction of the Kobayakawa Clan. He reunited the two factions of the split Kobayakawa Clan (Numata and Takehara factions) by marrying a daughter of the Takehara faction. In 1552, Takakage decided to build and relocate to a new mountaintop castle directly opposite his current castle, Takayama Castle, on the other side of the Numata River. The new castle, Niitakayama Castle, is located on a 197m mountain with very steep cliffs on its eastern and southeastern sides. It is an extensive castle complex, stretching 400 metres from east to west and 500 metres north to south.

With the need to control the waterways of the Japan Inland Sea, a new castle, Mihara Castle was built in 1567 at the mouth of the Numata River. Gradually, Mihara Castle superseded Niitakayama Castle as Kobayakawa’s main castle in the area as their naval strength grew. Takakage took part in the Hideyoshi’s First Korean Invasion and was largely responsible for a major Japanese victory in the Battle of Pyokje in 1593. Afterwards, he retired from active service and returned to Mihara Castle. With no sons, Takakage adopted Hideyoshi’s nephew, Hideaki. Kobayakawa Hideaki went on to play a major role in the Battle of Sekigahara by switching sides in the middle of this epic battle. Niitakayama Castle was eventually decommissioned in 1596, the year before Takakage’s death. Some of the stones and other building materials were taken from Niitakayama Castle and used in the construction of Mihara Castle.

Visit Notes

From a distance, Niitakayama looks like a really difficult climb, but it wasn’t as bad as it looks. It's average for a +200m elevation castle hike. The views from the top, especially this perfect hiking day, were incredible. There are various baileys along the route to the top of the mountain to keep you occupied and once at the top there are many such baileys around the peak. The peak area especially has the remains of many stone walls. Much of the stone was supposedly carried off to be used for the construction of Mihara Castle. I highly recommend visiting Niitakayama Castle along with Takayama Castle across the river for one full day of mountaintop castles.

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Castle Profile
English Name Niitakayama Castle
Japanese Name 新高山城
Alternate Names Otakayama-jo
Founder Kobayakawa Takakage
Year Founded 1552
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Next 100 Castles, Top 100 Mountaintop Castles, National Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features trenches, stone walls
Visitor Information
Access Hongo Sta.(San'yo Line), 25 min walk
Visitor Information mountain hiking trails open any time.
Time Required 210 mins
Website http://www.mihara-kankou.com/shiseki/hongo shintakayamajoseki.html
Location Mihara, Hiroshima Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 25' 12.94" N, 132° 58' 31.98" E
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Admin
Year Visited 2018
Contributor Eric
Visits November 8, 2018
Added to Jcastle 2014


2.50
(2 votes)
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RaymondWHatamoto

69 months ago
Score 0++
This was my 初登城 (first castle visit) in 2014. This castle ruin is not on the Top 100 castle list, but it is a fabulous mountaintop castle to visit. On some Japanese castle websites, it has been included in a Top 100 Castle Ruin List for castles not already included in the Top 100 Castle list. This is quite a significant castle in Japanese history as it was the home castle of Kobayakawa Takakage, who played a significant role in his father’s (Mori Motonari) Battle of Miyajima in 1555 and the Battle of Pyokje in 1593 on the Korean Peninsular. The castle ruin is reasonably well signposted. There is an original gate, but it has been moved to Soukou Temple in Mihara. Unfortunately, it was dark already by the time the train pulled up at Mihara Station, so I guess I will have to revisit this castle site to get in all the 60 baileys and suss out the relocated Otemon Gate at Soukou Temple.