Kaya-yakata was the fortified manor hall of the Kaya Clan, who had long served as protectors of Kibitsu Shrine in the 9th century. Kibitsu Shrine had been established in ancient times following the conquest of the Kibi Kingdom by the Yamato Kingdom. From what has been unearthed and from what remains, the site appears to have been in use until medieval times. It is not known for sure that the Kaya inhabited this exact site (thus it is also called 'Den-Kayashi-yakata (Folkloric Site of the Kaya Clan Residence)'), though there was definitely a fortification of some description here, and even from modern satellite imagery it is clear that it was some kind of moated fort. It is thought that the Ashimori River once flowed directly west of the site, and was used to feed the moat, protect the area, and also irrigate the rice paddies which surrounded the manor hall. The structure of the yakata is thought to date to about seven hundred years ago, from during the late Kamakura period.
Kaya-yakata features the remains of swampy mizubori (water moats) and dorui (earthen ramparts). The fortifications measure 61m north-south by 76m east-west in a rectangular formation. The ruins to the south are most prominent. The dorui is about 2m thick. The moats are quite wide relative to the compound, about 30m wide and 1m deep. The site is now that of an abandoned farmstead and is very overgrown, making exploration difficult.
Surely this is a mysterious site. The ruins are obscurred, but can be ascertained. Yet the history is conjecture. Many medieval yakata (fortified manor halls) are still inhabited this day, but usually with large, rural residences, often with traditional architecture. One feels their noble heritage. Yet this residence seemed to me rundown and impoverished. The moats, far from being maintained or even farmed, are a swampy morass. The site is surrounded by paddies and swampland, and the road in does not come off any of the main roads, but winds almost hidden from a backroad between polders. I got a sense of poverty and forboding. If the modern house isn't abandoned already then I'd shudder to think who would go on living here.
|9th century; 14th century
|Prefectural Historic Site
|Pre Edo Period
|Dorui, Mizubori, Dobashi
|Kibitsu Station on the Kibi Line; 20 minute walk
|Okayama, Okayama Prefecture
|34° 39' 47.45" N, 133° 50' 43.22" E
|Added to Jcastle
|Admin Year Visited
|Friends of JCastle