Kirihara Castle




The Kirihara clan were a branch of the Inukai clan and ruled the village of Kirihara, east of present day Matsumoto. The Kirihara were loyal to the Ogasawara clan who controlled the greater Matsumoto area. Kirihara Castle fell to Takeda Shingen's attack in 1550.

Visit Notes

After Yamabe Castle, I hopped on my bike and took off for Kirihara Castle. It’s about 3km away so even without the bike you could walk it. Yamabe is a higher elevation than Matsumoto so there are some stunning views along the way to Kirihara. It would be an enjoyable walk too. Apparently the Yamabe area is famous for grapes and wine. Much of the way is surrounded by grape vineyards and the Yamabe Winery is near the entrance to Kirihara Castle. I heard some people will walk back to the winery from Kirihara Castle and call a taxi to meet them there. Maybe I'll try that next time.

All the directions I saw for Kirihara Castle have you going to the road on the west side of the castle (nearly straight up from the winery). Along the way to that entrance I actually found a different entrance that was well marked and had a box full of maps just alongside the road. Before the central baileys there are some great earthworks, several trenches and entrances. The main route to the central bailey is amazing. There are stone walls marking off rings of baileys up to the top and many other castle remannts. The central bailey is huge with a large embankment around the backside. There is much more stoneworks and earthworks than I had imagined before visiting. Most sites and photos really don't do it justice. Kirihara Castle was defintely the best of the castles on this trip to Matsumoto and probably my favorite site of 2015.


私が見た案内はもっと西の大手道から紹介しているけれど、山家城から行く途中の道に別の案内がありました。2台ぐらいの駐車スペースと説明板と地図が置いてある箱もあったので、この搦手道から登ってみました。 主郭の曲輪群に着く前に掘、土塁、虎口などが多数あってとても見ごたえがあります。それだけでも十分に満足できるけれど、主郭に近づけばさらに興奮してしまいます。そして主郭への道はとても感動します。最初の石垣から見上げると段々になっている曲輪群が低石垣で囲まれています。主郭そのものも結構広くて背後には大きい土塁があります。全体的にこの城跡は想像以上に遺構が多くて感動しました。多くのブログや本は十分にこの城跡の素晴らしを描かないと思います。今回の松本周辺の城巡りだけではなく、たぶん2015年で一番面白い城跡でした。

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Castle Profile
English Name Kirihara Castle
Japanese Name 桐原城
Alternate Names Renpo-jo
Founder Kirihara clan
Year Founded late 15th C.
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Prefectural Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features trenches, stone walls
Visitor Information
Access Matsumoto Sta. (Shinonoi Line), bus or taxi (3000 yen)
Visitor Information Mountain, open any time
Time Required 150 mins
Location Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture
Coordinates 36° 14' 12.16" N, 138° 1' 35.65" E
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Added to Jcastle 2016
Admin Year Visited 2015
Admin Visits October 30, 2015

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22 months ago
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Even though I had read the webmasters's glowing account of Kiriharajō, the quiet majesty of its ruins still completely overwhelmed my expectations. Light, lackadaisical in afternoon, filtered through the autumnal shroud of the canaopy onto Kiriharajō's stone-clad terraces. The honkuruwa (main bailey) is like a fountainhead streaming its terraced baileys down the mountainside. Perhaps we may say there are at least seventeen tiers of earthworks throughout, with some nine of them ensconced by ishigaki (stone-piled ramparts).

I entered at a point somewhat short of the main trail and clambered up the mountainside, but not before passing some suggestive features, including a long row of ishigaki at the very foot of the mountain (is this a part of the castle, perhaps bordering some former lower residence?). I came up from the slopes, emerging suddenly like, I imagined, a wild-eyed sasquatch. I saw a large tatebori (climbing trench) running up the length mountain, as if to tear it asunder, and I knew that I had found my quarry. I began to ascend the castle mount in earnest.

First there is a horikiri (trench), and then a series of small terraced baileys situated either side of the main path up to the castle. There are about seven or eight tiers here, and it is quite similar to the ascent up Hayashiôjō. This arrangement of small terraces is one of two legs of the lower castle - the castle's left one - and is mirrored on the right by terraces of baileys which lie eitherside of the super long tatebori. The baileys increase in area as they approach the honkuruwa, and at a point we may call the right thigh, the stone-pilings start and move on all the way up like a staircase. Some of the stone blocks used in the walls are fluffy with moss. Others glow orange beneath the outspread boughs of trees beautiful in fall. Several gate ruins are evident as one works one's way into the center of the citadel, which is pre-empted by a large sub-bailey beneath the honkuruwa. The honkuruwa has a large embankment at the rear and beyond this are a series of embankments and trenches protecting the mountainside rear of the castle.