In 1489 the Date Clan and allies invaded Satake Clan territory in Hitachi. Satake Yoshiharu led his troops, including Onozaki Michitsuna, into battle. Michitsuna gave his life protecting his lord on the battlefield. Afterward, in acknowledgement of his loyalty, Michitsuna's son, Michioi, was given land on which he built Ishigamijō in 1490. He later changed his clan name to Ishigami after the area under his control, a common way to stake your claim to land I suppose. In 1536 Ishigami Michinaga was involved in border wars and attacked by relatives from Nukadajō who captured Ishigamijō. After this family dispute was settled the Ishigami were allowed to return to Ishigamijō and, under Ishigami Michihiro, led 360 horsemen into battle in 1577 against Yūki Harutomo who was a vassal of the powerful Hōjō Clan based at Odawarajō. In 1588 Ishigami Michinobu was killed in action and the remaining Ishigami relocated, following some of their Satake overlords to Akita, abandoning Ishigamijō.
Ishigamijō is a little smaller in scale than Ushikujō but has similarly impressive deep trenches. Features include karabori (dry moats), kuruwa (baileys), dorui (earthen embankments) and dobashi (earthen bridges). The layout of the castle is also interesting with a small inner sub-bailey beyond the honmaru (main bailey) looking over a cliff face and waterway. This raised section of the castle was likely the site of a lookout tower. To access the honmaru one must pass through an outer ninomaru (second bailey), which gives the castle a hashigo-nawabari (ladder layout). The trenches dug into the hill provided protection between baileys, typical of hilltop castles. When we came here nature was out in force and I was chased into a trench by a wasp. I was able to climb over a fallen tree over the moat around the second bailey. Balancing precariously over the moat gave me an appreciation for its depth which is not otherwise easily gleaned from the parapets. Plus the moat was full of snakes and carnivorous plants. For samurai assaulting back in the day you can imagine a muddy pit with slippery walls impossible to climb and studded with bamboo stakes, capped with palings and manned by the defenders of the castle.
|English Name||Ishigami Castle|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Designations||Prefectural Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Artifacts||Baileys, Karabori, Dorui|
|Access||Tokai Station on the Joban Line; 30 minute walk|
|Visitor Information||Free, 24/7|
|Time Required||One hour|
|Location||Toukai-mura, Ibaraki Prefecture|
|Coordinates||36° 28' 57.43" N, 140° 34' 41.30" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2018|
|Admin Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|