Kokokuji Castle

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Kokokuji Castle is well known as the castle from which Hojo Soun rose to power. Soun became the lord of Kokouji Castle in 1487 for helping to quell the succession dispute among the Imagawa after the death of Imagawa Yoshitada. Yoshitada was married to Soun's sister. In 1491, Soun invaded Izu and Imagawa Yoshimoto was put in charge of Kokokuji Castle. After the hostilities settled down, Imagawa renovated the castle. As the Imagawa lost power, Kokokuji Castle became one of the points of struggle between the Takeda and Hojo. The Takeda took control in 1571 and kept the castle until their downfall when it came under the control of Tokugawa Ieyasu. After Ieyasu moved to Kanto, various lords served from Kokokuji Castle until it was abandoned in 1607.

Visit Notes

There should also be a bus from Numazu, but I don't have the details. There was a bus stop right in front of the castle entrance named Negoya.

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  • Looking out from the Honmaru embankment
  • Ninomaru and Honmaru baileys
  • Honmaru embankment
  • Ninomaru
  • Route to the main keep
  • Route to the main keep foundation
  • Atop the Honmaru embankment
  • Honmaru embankment
  • Atop the Honmaru embankment
  • Honmaru trench and North Bailey
  • Atop the honmaru
  • Atop the Honmaru embankment
  • Atop the Honmaru embankment
  • Main keep foundation
  • Stone wall of the main keep
  • Main keep foundation
  • Deep trench behind the Honmaru
  • Deep trench behind the Honmaru
  • Deep trench behind the Honmaru
  • Deep trench
  • Deep trench
  • Deep trench behind the Honmaru
  • Deep trench
  • Map

Castle Profile
English Name Kokokuji Castle
Japanese Name 興国寺城
Alternate Names Fukadayama-jo, Nekoya-jo
Founder Hojo Soun
Year Founded around 1467-1487
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Next 100 Castles, National Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features trenches, stone walls
Visitor Information
Access Hara Sta. (Tokidao Line), 30 min walk
Visitor Information Open anytime
Time Required 30 mins
Website http://www.sengoku-shizuoka.com/castle/3114002/
Location Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture
Coordinates 35° 8' 29.18" N, 138° 48' 24.84" E
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Added to Jcastle 2014
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 2014
Admin Visits June 20, 2014

(3 votes)
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15 months ago
Score 1++

Kōkokujijō is an earthworks castle ruin which is on the widely regarded list of top castles (‘Next Top 100’), so I figured I’d go. I wasn’t expecting much but the site impressed me. The extent of extant remains is not so vast, and most of the area of the castle is made up of a series of terraces, but the central fortified area is unique. The dorui (earthen ramparts) at Kōkokujijō are huge! Of some of the largest I’ve seen, and probably the tallest I’ve ever seen when viewed from within the main bailey. This dorui wraps around the central enclosure (where there is now a small shrine) in three directions, north, west and east, and to the south is a terrace. The northern section is the tallest. Climbing these huge bulwarks of earth we see that there is a wide section in the middle with foundation stones, and beneath here facing the inside of the bailey is a segment of ishigaki (stone wall). This was the site of Kōkokujijō’s tenshu (main keep), and either side there are corner sections of dorui which served as yaguradai (turret platforms). The karabori (dry moat) between the main bailey and northern bailey is wide and deep. At either end of this long, impressively deep karabori the moat actually deepens, proceeding to narrow and cut even through rock. They dug down to bedrock and just kept digging! It’s really something to see. I also found a series of three holes in the dorui at the bottom of the moat, but I don’t think they were made during the castle’s time. I went inside and found that each burrow was connected to each other in the interior; I don’t know the purpose.

Entry to the northern part of the ruins was blocked off. The neighbourhood name, Nekoya, is a reference to the castle’s kyokan (residential area) which was located on its southern terraces. Originally much of Kōkokujijō was actually surrounded by swampland which served as a natural barrier.