Iga Ueno Castle

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Takigawa Katsutoshi started construction of Iga Ueno Castle in 1585. He was followed by Tsutsui Sadatsugu who built the honmaru and three level main keep. After the Battle of Sekigahara (1608), Sadatsugu's lands were confiscated by the Tokugawa and given to Todo Takatora. Todo Takatora initiated a great renovation of the castle to fortify the defenses against a resurgance of Toyotomi's followers. The new design created a new honmaru, the huge stone walls and completely engulfed the original castle. After the destruction of the Toyotomi, however, the renovation plans were mostly abandoned and the main keep, which was destroyed by high winds, was never rebuilt.

Visit Notes

Todo Takatora's main keep was never finished, so this is a mock reconstruction. Nevertheless, I appreciate the attempt at a wooden reconstruction (as opposed to another concrete monstrosity) and the museum houses some good exhibits. I was very disappointed in the state of the huge stone walls. They are filled with weeds and trees both in the middle of the wall and along the top. Some places look like they could start to crumble at any moment and one section along the top was off limits for exactly that reason. As you walk around the moat level to see the stone walls, the weeds and trees are so thick that it was very difficult to get good views much less good pictures. Some of the tallest stone walls in Japan should be kept in better condition. The grounds also have a ninja museum and show for those ninja fans out there. I didn't have time to visit on this trip but maybe next time.

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Castle Profile
English Name Iga Ueno Castle
Japanese Name 伊賀上野城
Alternate Names Ueno-jo, Hakuho-jo
Founder Takigawa Katsutoshi
Year Founded 1585
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition Reconstructed main keep
Designations Top 100 Castles, National Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Main Keep Structure 3 levels, 3 stories
Year Reconstructed 1935 (wood)
Features main keep, gates, turrets, stone walls, walls
Visitor Information
Access Uenoshi Sta. (Kintetsu Iga Line); 10 min walk
Visitor Information open 9am to 5pm; closed Dec 29-31. 500 yen for the main keep museum.
Time Required 60 mins, more if you visit the ninja museum
Website http://www.ict.ne.jp/~uenojyo/
Location Iga, Mie Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 46' 12.47" N, 136° 7' 37.56" E
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Added to Jcastle 2007
Admin Year Visited 2012
Admin Visits Oct 8, 2012
Friends of JCastle
Malcolm Fairman Photography - Iga Ueno Castle
Nearby Samurai Homes
(26 votes)
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56 months ago
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Ikeda Hiroshi is a ninja scholar in Iga and he was gracious enough to give me a personal tour of the castle. What a gent’! This is a reconstructed keep dating to 1935 and built out of wood, so it has an authentic feel. Ikeda-sensei, gentleman and scholar, said that the tenshu (donjon) built by Tsutsui Sadatsugu was 100m west of the current tenshu, but when we tried to inspect the site we found it blocked off by construction work. The original castle layout was built by Takigawa Katsutoshi in 1585, and the reconstructed tenshu is actually a reconstruction of the tenshu built under Tsutsui. The tenshu built by Todo Takatora (the ivy kamon of the Todo clan can be seen on many exhibitions inside the castle) in 1608 on the site of the current tenshu was actually five levels, bigger and taller than the reconstructed tenshu. There is a comparison of the two tenshu as models, and you can see how the reconstructed keep, based on the one built by Tsutsui in the west, does not fit on the tenshudai (donjon base) exactly like the old castle did. In 1612 the castle was destroyed by a typhoon. That makes this reconstructed wooden keep much older than any of the castles originally at the site! The walls of Iga Castle are the tallest in Japan, although many segments of the honmaru walls are now overrun with vegetation, which could cause damage in the long term. There is a big pile of pebbles infront of the tenshu. Ikeda-sensei explained that the pebbles were piled up there so that they could be hurled at any attackers who might try to scale the walls. The walls were built so high by in anticipation of a resurgence of Toyotomi’s forces, but they never came, and Iga Castle, in its remote location, ceased to be of much importance (which explains why the tenshu was not rebuilt during the Edo Period). There was a well in the adjoining yagura to the keep, said to function as a secret escape route from the castle.

Kiddus i2003Gunshi

76 months ago
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This castle is well worth the trip to get there, and the ninja display and museum is a must see.


79 months ago
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Igaueno castle video. There were many Ninja!



104 months ago
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Cute little castle on a hill overlooking town, cool moat.

Frank T.Gunshi

121 months ago
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What a disappointment. This castle is a reconstruction done in wood, true, but it was NOT done in the traditional way like Kakegawa, Ozu, or any number of other wooden reconstructions. The interior was done in a modern style with absolutely NO effort made to mimic the original. In addition to that, regardless of the quality of the park and ninja museum nearby, the latter attracts hordes of families with children when they are out of school. Try going on a weekday when school is in session.


126 months ago
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I like the story behind this one. A local businessman built it to promote tourism in his hometown. Obviously visited the town for the ninja museum, like 99.9% of the town's visitors, and was surprised to see a castle there. I also believe this is the castle Ian Fleming described in \You Only Live Twice"during 007's ninja training scene. The film used Himeji."""


130 months ago
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132 months ago
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This was the second castle I picked to take my brother and friend to when they came to Japan. (By which I mean I said we were going to see a ninja village and it just turned out that it happened to be near a castle as well). The ninja yashiki next to the castle was first class – they had comprehensive English explanations and lots of hands-on displays. It was winter so there were no ninja demonstrations and many of the souvenir shops were closed. The giant walls and stonework around the moat are superb for taking photos, which is great because unfortunately we were there when it was under repair. My Iga Ueno shots show just the far left of the top photo, which was the only bit not under wraps, and various people posing in the Todo Takatora cutout out the front of the keep. We did a day trip from Nara – one point to make is that Iga Ueno station has almost no baggage storage facilities - Uenoshi is a little better but the connecting ninja trains don't come so often – however, the staff at the Ninja house will mind all your baggage for free for as long as you want to wander around the area, including the castle. (They're ninjas; you know they're going to do a better job of guarding your bags than some measly coin locker anyway).


133 months ago
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2 days ago i went to this castle. I liked it very much, with its great walls and the artifacts on show. Kids and adults can disguise in shinobi(this is the land of the ninja) and i saw alot of little ninjas wandering. I also visited the ninjahouse in the parc. Its a nice museum(with english explanations) and you can attend a ninjashow. They demonstrate the use of some ninja-weapons, but it's only in japanese. I walked to the castle and took the train back, because some of them have ninjas painted on them.


141 months ago
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I had a similar experience when I went to Kumamoto Castle in 2007. The top floors of the castle keep were covered in white scaffolding. These days before I go and visit a castle, I try to find its official website and see if there is any renovation before I go. BTW, on the official Iga Uneo Castle website at http://www.ict.ne.jp/~uenojyo/, it says that the castle is undergoing some renovation for typhoon repairs (hope I have read the Japanese right) from 24th Nov. 2009 to the end of Feb. 2010.


155 months ago
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The honmaru walls are quite impressive going down to a water moat on three sides. The tenshu (keep) has a pretty good museum inside with plenty of original artifacts and samurai armour. One of the display actually had an English explanation much to my delight.

There are still some nice red autumn leaves on the trees, so now it is good time to visit if you are in the area.

I went there from Shiga using JR trains. It takes about an hour from JR Kusatsu to JR Iga-Ueno or around 90 minutes from Kyoto. You can change to a Kintetsu train at Iga-Ueno Station, but if you like walking (like me), it is only a 30 minute walk or about 3km. Exit the station and go straight down that main road. You can see the castle on the hill a few clicks down the road.