Sasano Castle (Chikuma)
Sasanojō was used as part of a network of fortifications protecting the territory of Aida and guarding the mountain trail that led between valleys (in former times mountain ridges were a frequently used means of going to-and-fro'). The Horidaira Clan acted as castellans. Horidaira village was located beneath Sasanojō and the castle may have been built as a redoubt for the villagers to flee to if they came under attack.
Sasanojō is a curious ruin indeed. There is a principal bailey which is not so large but is typical of a mountainfort. To the north it is protected by a series of horikiri (trenches cut into the ridge). To the west is another series of trenches in similar fashion. To the south there is a narrow ridge. Beneath this ridge is a series of small baileys divided by karabori (dry moats) and dorui (earthen ramparts). To the south of here is a very interesting feature in the form of the umaya no kubo (stables pit). This area for keeping horses is formed from natural terrain, a sunken area surrounded on three sides by the encircling ridgeline, perhaps the remnants of a landslide. It's likely the bottom of this depression was flattened to create a bailey-like space well sheltered from without. To the north of the castle proper is a series of what looks like a row of yokobori (lateral trenches) and dorui. It's not clear to what extent these formations are man-made; I can't imagine how natural movements of the earth would've created them, but I'm not an expert in such a field. Perhaps the castle builders augmented the natural terrain to create a series of funnels. If so then this defensive feature is quite unlike any I've seen before.
|Chikuma Sasano Castle
|Pre Edo Period
|Horikiri, Karabori, Dorui, Kuruwa
|Akashina Station on the Shinonoi Line; access via forestry road or hike from Samine Castle site
|24/7 free; mountain
|Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture
|36° 21' 33.73" N, 137° 57' 21.38" E
|Added to Jcastle
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