Kumagura Yakata

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Kumagura-yakata was built as the fortified manor house of the Kumagura Clan, local warrior land-owners, in the 1440s. The area was strategic in that it was the site of a convenient river crossing just north of the yakata, and so the Kumagura would've had this traffic within their jurisdiction. Opposite the crossing was the historic temple of Buppōji. It's likely that a small settlement existed alongside the yakata. The main residence of the Kumagura would've appeared like a large cottage, with a thatched roof and clay walls, surrounded by out buildings, in turn surrounded by basic defensive structures, rural and simplistic compared to later Daimyō homes, but the Kumagura's holdings would've been comparitively much smaller, and they were comparable to village heads in later periods. The surrounding peasants under the yoke would've lived in crude huts. The priests at Buppōji would've been a little more comfortable, and the peasants likely contributed to their upkeep alongside patronage from the Kumagura. Here I have taken the opportunity to describe the typical scenes and surroundings of early fortified bushi residences.

Visit Notes

Continuining with my "Yakata Tour" I came to Kumagura-yakata, the fourth of thirteen yakata sites I visited that day. "Yakata" refers to a medieval fortified manor house. There was no marker to indicate the site that I could find, although, according to pictures I found on line, as well as google maps, there should've been a stone one where a new structure has been built, and so perhaps it was taken down (I could've done with the information!). The site of the yakata, which was built on a small hill and ridge over the Sai River, is now that of several shrines, farmland and a cluster of dwellings. Next to the Kumagurakasuga-jinja is the site of Buppōji, a temple which I think existed alongside the yakata.

There are marker posts and explanation boards here for the Kumagura Crossing, a water-crossing site adjacent to the yakata. Another marker indicates the former landing of Kumagura Bridge, which was built in the Edo Period, after the period of the Yakata. The river is wide and the bridge was 41-ken in length. The original crossing would've made use of small boats or even just men who ferried travellers across on their backs whilst wading through the river if the water level was low enough. I suppose the bridge must've been destroyed at some point because the ferry crossing was in place until the Early Shōwa Period! A modern bridge is located 2km to the north. Opposite the river is the castle mount of Hirasejō.


Castle Profile
English Name Kumagura Yakata
Japanese Name 熊倉館
Founder Kumagura Clan
Year Founded Muromachi Period
Castle Type Fortified Manor
Castle Condition Ruins only
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Markers only
Visitor Information
Access Tazawa Station on the Shinonoi Line; 40 minute walk
Visitor Information 24/7 free; shrine
Time Required 30 minutes
Location Azumino, Nagano Prefecture
Coordinates 36° 17' 3.59" N, 137° 56' 24.47" E
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Added to Jcastle 2020
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed

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