Minakuchi Okayama Castle
Under the orders of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the Nakamura Clan set up base at Minakuchi-Okayama Castle in 1585 in order to control the area. The castle was sacked during the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 and was later abandoned. Much of its stone walls were re-purposed for the construction of the new Minakuchi Castle on the plain below.
The main draw at the Minakuchi-Okayama Castle site for castle fans is perhaps the several large baileys and remaining segments of ishigaki (stone-piled ramparts). I first entered the site at the northern most bailey where there is a reconstructed portion of walls with loopholes, as well as a wooden look-out tower. The look-out gives one a view of the town and Minakuchijō is visible from here. Then there is a sizable horikiri. The next integral bailey is the honmaru (main bailey), and the "ishigaki course" starts here, wrapping around the honmaru where the remaining ishigaki can be seen. There is one largish segment, one small segment, and then trace amounts here and there clinging to the old ramparts of the honmaru. The path around the honmaru is not complete, being broken by a steep area which is untraversible, and so some doubling back is required to see everything. The path near the largest ishigaki segment is very narrow. Some foliage makes it seem like the path is wider but in fact it hides a steep drop, so caution is necessary. After exploring the honmaru, which contains a curious hokora (altar), I visited subsequent baileys which steadily terrace the mountain. As I descended I found each bailey more overgrown and unruly than the last. At some point before now a temporary inflatable representation of the main keep at Minakuchi-Okayamajō was erected. When I asked the guide at Minakuchijō about potential reconstructions at that site, he opined that we were more likely to see some sort of reconstruction at Okayamajō and that there was some interest in that. I visited Okayamajō after Minakuchijō. The two sites represent castle construction at different time periods and for different purposes, so they make a nice contrast. The more advanced stonework at the flatland castle contrasts sharply with the piling methods evident at this mountain castle.
|Minakuchi Okayama Castle
|No main keep but other buildings
|National Historic Site
|Pre Edo Period
|Baileys, Ishigaki, Horikiri, Mock Watchtower
|trenches, stone walls
|Minakuchi Station on the Omi Railway Minakuchi Gamono Line; 10 minutes
|24/7 free; mountain
|Kōka, Shiga Prefecture
|34° 58' 13.91" N, 136° 10' 51.96" E
|Added to Jcastle
|Admin Year Visited