The castle originally established by Shiba Kaneyori at Yamagata is said to have been about the size of the honmaru of the later Yamagata castle. Shiba later took the name of the surrounding area and changed his name to Mogami. Mogami's ancestor Mogami Yoshiaki reconstructed the castle into a much larger fortress in 1592. He added the Ninomaru and Sannomaru baileys, but there was never a large main keep that you see at other castles. It did however have three 2 story and one 3 story yagura. While Mogami Yoshiaki went to the Battle of Sekigahara with Tokugawa Ieyasu, Uesugi Kagekatsu's general Naoe Kanetsugu went to attack Yamagata Castle but, supposedly, he could not find it in the thick fog. Thereafter, the castle was also known as kasumigajo, the castle in the haze.
At his peak after the battle of Sekigahara, Yoshiaki controlled land yielding 570,000 koku. Yoshiaki died in 1614 and his successor Iechika died shortly thereafter in 1617. His sucessor Yoshitoshi was reduced to 300,000 koku and later reassigned to Mikawa. The importance of Yamagata Castle to the Tokugawa rule over Eastern Japan declined over time, and with it the size of territory controlled by the lord of Yamagata Castle was also reduced.
This castle is much bigger than you might expect and is really one of the best castles to visit in Tohoku. The East Main Gate was rebuilt in wood many years ago, but recently the Honmaru Masugata Gate has been splendidly rebuilt and they are still excavating around the honmaru with plans for further development. When you visit this castle, take time to walk around the top of the earthen embankment that encircles the Ninomaru and above the moat. You can catch many nice views of the moat and see the stone walls of the other three gates and the foundations of 2 more yagura. A couple of the gates are complex with very nice stonework.
|English Name||Yamagata Castle|
|Alternate Names||Kasumiga-jo, Kajo|
|Founder||Shiba (Mogami) Kaneyori|
|Castle Condition||No main keep but other buildings|
|Designations||Top 100 Castles, National Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Edo Period|
|Features||gates, turrets, bridges, water moats, trenches, stone walls, walls|
|Access||Yamagata Station (Yamagata Shinkansen), walk 15 mins|
|Visitor Information||The park is open from 5am-10pm from April to November and from 5:30am in the winter months. The East Main Gate is only open from April until the Culture Day weekend in November. Check the website for details about dates and times.|
|Time Required||120 mins|
|Location||Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture|
|Coordinates||38° 15' 20", 140° 19' 39"|
|Year Visited||2003, 2017|
|Visits||September 12, 2003; November 2, 2017|