Ishinomaki Castle




Kasai Kiyoshige served under Minamoto No Yoritomo. The site says he had the castle built after being awarded the land for his achievement in the battle of Oushuu, which took place in 1189. The on-site sign says he was awarded several areas, including Oushika county, but does not give dates. The castle became the Kasai family’s main base through the Muromachi and Warring States periods. During the latter, according to, the then head, Kasai Harutane (ruler of seven districts with a 300000 koku estate), decided to make Teraike Castle the main base instead, and destroyed Ishinomaki Castle. It’s not clear when that would have been. The on-site sign states the family ruled the area until overthrown by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1590. (There was a passing reference to the castle on in an article about the Battle of Imahashi. It seems the Eishou Mikawa Conflict theory linked an attack on the castle to that battle and various others.)

The castle’s existence was regarded as an unverifiable legend until 1983, when excavations established that there was once a “large-scale medieval castle” on the site. (Thanks to Yuriko Suematsu san who translated the on-site sign. Other info from, with snippets from and There was an entry for Kiyoshige in, but it had his date of birth as 1185 which can’t be right.)

Visit Notes

An on-site sign outlines the castle’s history (it appears in one of the photos here, and there’s a close-up photo on the site). The two monuments in the photo may also be related to the castle, but unfortunately as I can’t read Japanese I didn’t realise at the time the significance of the history sign, and didn’t take close-up photos of the monuments. There are various embedded and loose stones, and stonework, right across the site, but castle bloggers say there are only baileys left.

It’s a beautifully scenic area and there are fine views from the site, which also has many cherry trees blossoming in spring. Ishinomaki was hard-hit by the 2011 earthquakes, tsunami and consequent fires, with over 3300 killed and 50,000 homes and other buildings destroyed. People took refuge in the park. The Kashimamiko Shrine torii at the summit has photographs showing what the waterfront below used to look like. There are seats and it has become an area for quiet observation, contemplation and perhaps prayer. A lookout area with views of the Kitakami River upstream (in the opposite direction and further down), also has before photos. Redevelopment has and is taking place in both directions, but some areas have been deemed unsuitable for residences. There is a large memorial park visible on the ocean side.

  • Hiyoriyama Park north
  • Hiyoriyama Park, north, down towards the water
  • Hiyoriyama Park, north
  • Hiyoriyama Park, north
  • Hiyoriyama Park, steps to the Kashimamiko Shrine torii at the summit
  • View of the memorial park from castle site
  • House with traditional features beside Kashimamiko Shrine
  • Hiyoriyama Park, south
  • Probable bailey, Hiyoriyama Park upper north
  • Hiyoriyama Park, north
  • Hiyoriyama Park, north
  • Hiyoriyama Park, north
  • Hiyoriyama Park, south
  • Hiyoriyama Park, north
  • At Kashimamiko Shrine
  • Hiyoriyama Park, north, Minamihama Memorial Parkis to the right
  • Hiyoriyama Park, north
  • At the summit, Kashimamiko Shrine to the right and its large torii out of picture to the left
  • Hiyoriyama Park, north
  • Castle site with signage
  • Hiyoriyama Park, north
  • Statue of Kawamura Magobei Shigeyoshi
  • Kashimamiko Shrine torii overlooking waterfront
  • Hiyoriyama Park, north
  • View of the Kitakami River upstream from the castle site
  • Hiyoriyama Park, upper north
  • Kashimamiko Shrine

Castle Profile
English Name Ishinomaki Castle
Japanese Name 石巻城跡
Alternate Names Hiyoriyama Castle
Founder Kasai Kiyoshige
Year Founded First half of 13th century
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Local Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Main Keep Structure Unknown
Artifacts Some stones, stonework possibly??, see Visit Notes
Visitor Information
Access About 20 minutes walk (1.5km) from Ishinomaki Station (Ishinomaki is a 50 minute train trip from Sendai). Flat to begin with then ascend steps – steep but not difficult. 56m above the Kitakami River Estuary and Pacific Ocean. Steps on both north-western and north-eastern (river) sides.
Visitor Information Site is now occupied by Hiyoriyama Park and Kashimamiko Shrine (it may have extended further). Park address is 2 Chome-2 Hiyorigaoka, Ishinomaki, open 24 hours. Shrine is at the summit, open 10am-3pm.
Time Required 60-120 minutes
Location Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture
Coordinates 38° 25' 22.87" N, 141° 18' 26.06" E
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Added to Jcastle 2023
Contributor AnneMcL
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed

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17 months ago
Score 0++
Well done with the detailed profile!


17 months ago
Score 0++
Thank you!