The Hyakusaiji Temple itself was established by Shotoku Taishi in 606. It was probably fortified as a castle in 1503 by the Rokkaku after being burned down in a battle between the Rokkaku and Iba clans. In 1573, Nobunaga found out that Hyakusaiji was supporting the Rokkaku who were under siege by Nobunaga so he burned the castle down. When Nobunaga built Azuchi Castle, he carted away much of the stone from here to use at Azuchi. Most of the stonework you see today was rebuilt for the temple after this time. Hyakusaji Castle is a historically important site in the history of temple fortifications. Besides stone walls it also had moats and typical castle earthworks.
Original photo contributions by David W. Updates by ART.
Update by ART (visited 2021, updated 2024):
Hyakusaijijō is a temple and a castle ruin overlooking the plains of Ōmi. It astounded me twofold, both as a temple, and as a great castle ruin. And in that order, since most of the castle ruins I identified after going about the temple's precincts and gardens.
Firstly the temple's gardens and causeway of mossy piled rocks are of tremendous beauty, such that I felt the luxury and promise of spring with humbling pathos. I dreamt that I could live with the buddhas in that oasis until I were no more. The pond at the heart of the temple and garden had no barriers to curtail visitors, and though we had the run of the place our steps were gingerly careful, conscious of entering into a place of perfect tranquility and not wanting to dispoil an inch. I thought of the world-renowned gardens of Suzhou, which I toured in 2017, and though I found some worldly pleasure in that tumult of sightseeing, I found no such transcendent serenity there as here.
And so the temple charmed and healed. But we rejuvenate to exert, and soon again I was once more unto the breach, my friends! The fantastic ruins here swept me up in their mystery. I have mentioned the temple's great causeway. It is bounded by terraces which once formed the gigantic steps of the castle's ramparts. Amongst moss and flowers stone blocks lay scattered about. The temple occupies these central terraces, but they march up and down the whole mountainside. After finding a large segment of ishigaki (stone-piled ramparts), I further found kuruwa (baileys), dorui (earthen ramparts), karabori (dry moats) and other tell-tale castle features.
All this was at the top of the temple, but the castle ruins, as I say, cover the whole mountainside. I struck off into the forest in pursuit of a spur of dishevelled stonework and terracing, and was immediately rewarded and induced to follow my game. The baileys are large and stacked beneath, above and beside one another in innumerable terraces, many of which still have ishigaki lining them in part.
I found another causeway, this one in mouldering ruin. Ishigaki, dorui and kuruwa were on each side and I soon found I could not cover their whole extent in the limited time I had. So instead I went down without daring to go too much across. I saw many ruins even so, and at one point there was a mizubori (water moat) lined with ishigaki. I was able to move quickly due to the open nature of the forest, though many kuruwa were filled with shallow ponds as a stream flowed down the central causeway and trailed off into surrounding enclosures.
After returning to the temple I went to the akamon (red gate) at the bottom of the mountain. One can clearly see through the trees that this whole sloping area is cut and formed into stair-like terraces. I'd seen so much yet likely missed even more! Probably one could spend all day here with the ruins, and I would like to, as well to spend more time in the temple's gardens. At the akamon there is a large, deep karabori, and this seems to be the lower defensive line of the old castle.
|National Historic Site
|Pre Edo Period
|trenches, stone walls
|Yohkaichi Sta (Ohmi Railway), 15 min taxi
|Higashi Omi, Shiga Prefecture
|35° 7' 36.80" N, 136° 17' 19.79" E
|Added to Jcastle
|Admin Year Visited