Hakusan Castle

From Jcastle.info



It's often said that Hakusan Castle was built by Takeda Nobuyoshi as a defensive position for his home just over a kilometer away. Many castles or seats of power from this time period are actually comprised of a home or palace on lower ground and a nearby mountain castle for times of unrest. Perhaps he founded some castle on this site, but from looking at the design and remnants you see today it is very much a Sengoku Period mountain castle. Given the position and style it was likely reformed or completely rebuilt by Aoki Nobutane in the defensive line from Hakusan Castle to Shinpu Castle to Nouken Castle. After the fall of the Takeda clan when the Tokugawa and Hojo fought for positions around the Yamanashi region, the Tokugawa got Hakusan Castle. The castle was maintained by Yamadera Nobumasa for a while and was likely part of the Tokugawa Castle network in this region but there are no records of it's history after Yamadera. It was abandoned in the early Edo Period.

Visit Notes
This was a neat castle full of many trenches, earthen embankments and baileys and bailey entrances. They are more well defined than many sites so beginning fans of castle ruins can enjoy it and learn a lot. The only concern is there are not many signs.

There is also a bus from Nirasaki Station to the Takeda Hachiman Shrine, which is on the opposite side of the mountain from where I started. The busses are few so plan carefully. Due to poor timing of the bus after visiting Shishiku Castle, I took a taxi to the Hakusan Shrine to visit the castle and walked back to the station from here. If I were to do it again, I would probably start form Takeda Hachiman Shrine come down via Hakusan Shrine and walk back. The walk between the castle and the station also offers spectacular views of Mt Fuji. I read on a Japanese blog and was told by one person that bears are frequently spotted around the castle so wear a bear bell or go with others. Rather than bears I was more concerned that the two snakes I saw could be pit vipers. You never know what could be hiding under the brush.



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  • main bailey
  • Trail entrance
  • Hakusan Shrine
  • Entrance
  • second bailey embankments
  • Entrance to the main bailey
  • Second bailey
  • Trench around the main bailey
  • Second bailey
  • Trench around the main bailey
  • Trench around the main bailey
  • Embankment connected to the main bailey
  • Second bailey
  • Entrance to the main bailey
  • Embankment around the main bailey
  • Embankment around the main bailey
  • Earthen embankment
  • Entrance to the main bailey
  • Obikuruwa bailey
  • Earthen bridge between the first and third baileys
  • Third bailey
  • Vertical trench (tatebori)
  • Vertical trench (tatebori)
  • Vertical trench (tatebori)
  • Vertical trench (tatebori)
  • Trench and embankment of the third bailey
  • Third bailey
  • Earthen bridge between the first and third baileys
  • masugata entrance
  • Masugata entrance
  • Embankment and bailey
  • Trench of the third bailey
  • Koshiguruwa bailey
  • Earthen embankment
  • View from narthex castle
  • Mt. Fuji
  • Map
  • Map

Castle Profile
English Name Hakusan Castle
Japanese Name 白山城
Alternate Names Nabeyama Toride
Founder Takeda Nobuyoshi (?)
Year Founded mid 12th C.
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Top 100 Mountaintop Castles, National Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features trenches
Visitor Information
Access Nirakasaki Sta. 50 min walk
Visitor Information mountain castle, open anytime.
Time Required 75 mins
Location Nirasaki, Yamanashi Prefecture
Coordinates 35° 42' 2.81" N, 138° 25' 19.52" E
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Added to Jcastle 2016
Admin Year Visited 2015
Admin Visits October 12, 2015

(2 votes)
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20 months ago
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Hakusanjō fell within my expanded purview since I’ve been covering Kai (Yamanashi) quite heavily recently, striking out from Shinano like some kind of strange mirror version of Takeda Shingen, or anti-Shingen, I suppose; I’m getting revenge for Shinano! Anyway, it’s the last site from jcastle.info (as in, visited first by Eric) I visited in Yamanashi (and I can’t remember what was the last one I visited in Nagano was but it was probably one of the Sanada ones). I walked directly from Nirasaki Station; there is a yakata site along the way, Yamadera-yakata. After visiting Hakusanjō I visited some more yakata sites and another yamajiro, Ōgidairayamajō, located on the mountain peak south of Hakusanjō.

Hakusanjō is a very well put together yamajiro and the earthworks are well preserved. I had oodles of fun here. I followed Yogo-sensei’s map (I don’t know if he’s an actual professor or anything but he is o’sensei as far as I’m concerned), and I recommend a map for navigating this site. The illustration of the castle’s layout found on-site is a little difficult to follow. It also shows tall ramparts where none now remain above the parapets, and so it’s a little reconstructive. Yogo-sensei’s is easier to follow.

Features of Hakusanjō include dorui (earthen ramparts), yokobori (lateral moats), tatebori (climbing moats), horikiri (trenches bisecting the ridge), kuruwa (baileys), masugata (square) gate complex ruins, and other earthworks. Approaching the site, one first comes to a very bold configuration which is clearly the site of a gate, with dorui either side of a gap granting entry to a terrace. What I love about this entry point to the castle is that either side of this terrace are also tatebori. It’s a solid defence.

The main bailey is encircled by lower terraced baileys in at least two tiers, though they are each broken at some point, and the configuration is complex. At the bottom of these sub-baileys tatebori streak down the mountainside on all sides. Originally the earth would’ve been banked up atop the parapets here, and the gaps where the tatebori fell would’ve appeared like crenels within thick, wide merlons. Some of these tatebori can now only just be made out. The main bailey has dorui in good condition going most of the way around.

Another part of Hakusanjō I fell in love with is the rear bailey area. It is connected to the main bailey complex via a dobashi (earthen bridge), with dorui rising up on the higher situated main bailey side – an intimidating array. The dobashi, of course, spans a wide karabori (dry moat). The rear bailey is protected by a karabori to the front and rear. It sits above a terraced sub-bailey, and is also accessed this way via a masugata gate. The remaining side of the rear bailey is protecting by a yokobori. Interestingly it does not meet up with the moat between the first and second baileys but there is instead another dobashi there which grants access to detached ramparts. It’s a unique set-up.

There is another karabori beneath the front of the main bailey. Beneath here is a koshikuruwa (sub-bailey) with tatebori. However, there is also a small spur of the ridge here, and I followed this; it was also fortified, and there is a horikiri to be found here. It is very wide. The ridge continues beyond so some kind of defence here was necessary.

Sussing out this ruin was lots of fun and I’d recommend this site to others interested in yamajiro. For completionists, there are also two satellite forts, Hakusanjō-Kita-toride (‘North Fort’) and Hakusanjō-Minami-toride (‘South Fort’). These are located on different ridges and so are not easy to climb to (I didn’t have the time to). They were basically noroshidai, bases for sending smoke signals.