Tsuwano Castle

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Tsuwano5.jpg

History
Yoshimi Yoriyuki established this castle, originally called Sanbonmatsu-jo, to watch over the province of Iwami. His family ruled here for 14 generations. Yoshimi Hironaga, the 14th generation, supported the Mouri clan in the Battle of Sekigahara (1600) and was moved to Hagi with them after they lost to the Tokugawa forces.

Sakazaki Naomori was awarded this domain for his support and success at the Battle of Sekigahara. Starting form the Demaru Bailey he started to vastly expand and fortify the castle. The stone walls you see at the top of the mountain date from this time period. Naomori died in 1616 leaving no descendents. Kamei Masanori was moved here in his place where his family ruled for 11 generations until the coming of the Meiji Period when the castle was dismantled. The tenshu burned down in a fire caused by lightning in 1686. The castle was dismantled in 1873.


Visit Notes

The stone walls of Tsuwano Castle are spectacular and it reminds you a lot of Takeda Castle but a little bit smaller scale. Don't miss the Babasaki Yagura and Monomiyagura watchtowers in the town.You can take the ski lift to the top of the mountain but there is also a trail near the Taikodani Inari Shrine. It is not a particularly difficult hike, but you should plan about an hour.

Also, it is very advisable to carry a bear bell to keep bears away. There were numerous signs to that effect and 2 people cautioned me about not having one. You can see some minor fortifications like horikiri trenches and small baileys. Also the trail from the South Gate continues on down through the Nakaara Castle and out to the Washihara Hachimangu Shrine. It's an enjoyable walk but sometimes the path is not clear.
津和野城の石垣は本当に素晴らしいです。竹田城を思わせますがそれよりちょっと新しくて規模が小さいです。城下町にある馬場先櫓と物見櫓は見逃さないでください。観光リフトもありますが太鼓谷稲荷神社辺りからの登山道もあり、途中で小曲輪や堀切がみられます。南門から鷲原八幡宮に続く道もそうです。登山道を歩く方には熊よけのベルを付けた方がいいみたいです。それなりの案内板もありましたし地元の人にも注意されました。


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Castle Profile
English Name Tsuwano Castle
Japanese Name 津和野城
Alternate Names Sanbonmatsu-jo
Founder Yoshimi Yoriyuki
Year Founded 1283
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Designations Top 100 Castles, Top 100 Mountaintop Castles, National Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Features samurai homes, trenches, stone walls, castle town
Visitor Information
Access Tsuwano Sta. (Yamaguchi Line)
Visitor Information The lift runs 10am to 5pm and costs 450 yen round trip.
Time Required 75 mins for the castle ruins
Website http://tsuwano-kanko.net/sightseeing/look/津和野城跡/
Location Tsuwano, Shimane Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 27' 39.96" N, 131° 45' 49.75" E
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Admin
Added to Jcastle 2007
Admin Year Visited 2014
Admin Visits Nov 22, 2014
Nearby Samurai Homes
2.90
(10 votes)
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avatar

ARTShogun

9 months ago
Score 0++
Changed to "has buildings" to accomodate yagura now at foot of castle mount.
avatar

ARTShogun

11 months ago
Score 1++

Tsuwanojō (Shimane-ken Tsuwano-chō)  津和野城 [島根県津和野町]

The ruins of Tsuwano Castle are incredible, comparable to the famous Takedajō, and exploring them was a thrilling adventure. Things get off to a jolly enough start as visitors can take a chairlift to the top. It didn't seem like it would be too difficult to hike back down, however. The lift's staging area is situated behind the demaru at the far end of the castle. This was off-limits when we visited due to some maintenance work. A temporary pathway over the mountain slope reaches around the demaru like a platform on a canopy walk.

At the main part of the castle work is ongoing to restore what looks like a collapsed wall segment, and a scaffolding stairway gives access to the ninomaru (second bailey). I was getting a bit discouraged with the amount of roped off areas, until I saw one gate ruin (specifically the Nishimon (West Gate)) which had not been cordoned off, perhaps because it was not anticipated that anybody would run off down there. I merrily did, of course, and climbed around the edge of the castle's former kitchen area, enjoying the ramparts there from below, before climbing up into the enclosure.

Passing beneath the tenshudai and coming to the sannomaru (third bailey)there are some fantastic scenes of the stone walls, particularly of the ramparts of the Jinshichi-kuruwa ("Hostage Enclosure"). The sannomaru terminates in a gate ruin. This too was not an area anyone was venturing near but I passed through the gate ruin and climbed down to view it from below.

This was all very exciting for here, I found, was a particularly beautiful part of the castle, replete with the mystery of its shambolic ruins. Then the wind blew savagely and despite the shining sun and clear blue sky, clouds blew over nearby mountains from across the valley. Foxes were wedded and cooling rain streaked about. Gor, said I, my god hath lent me, by this oroshi he hath sent me -- strange atmospheric phenomena hitherto unknown. And so believe it thou shalt not, fair reader, but even when the sky is bluest, there was a fine rain whirling about.

I passed over the tenshudai into the taikomaru (drum bailey), which has a beautiful gate ruin which leads to the top of the castle-mount. This final enclosure bends outward and so its fine ramparts can be appreciated from the taikomaru. The mountain winds still blew, and from across the ramaprts a man with no name stepped into my sight, his overcoat billowing behind him like a poncho, so that I thought it was Clint Eastwood up there. What was this, the rarified mountain air? From the top of the castle, being cautious of the strong winds, the whole castle town spread below can be seen, including samurai homes and the castles remaining extant structures. To these turrets at the foot of the mountain I went last: they are the Babasaki-yagura (the brown one) and the Miyagura (the white one).

Pictures are presented here largely in the order they were taken.

History:

The first fortification on this site was Sanbonmatsujō ("Three Pine Castle"), erected by Yoshimi Yoriyuki in 1283 (it was also called Ipponmatsujō so I don't know if they cut some of the pine trees down or what). His descendant, Yoshimi Hironaga, was on the wrong side of the Battle of Sekigahara (that is, the Western Army), and Sakazaki Naomori got his territory. It was Sakazaki who built Tsuwanojō whose remains grace the mountain today, although he left no heir and in 1616 Kamei Masanori took over. The Kamei Clan ruled until the Meiji Restoration.

Tsuwano Castle's tenshu (donjon) was destroyed by fire after a lightning strike in 1686 and was not rebuilt. What's strange about the Tsuwanojō tenshu was that it was built in a bailey on lower footing to another bailey above and adjacent - with ishigaki (stone-piled ramparts) directly behind it. Actually this reminded me of Ewloe Castle in Wales, a ruin I visited when I was last back in the UK, which was built right beneath a large ridge which almost equalled it in height. Needless to say, defensive considerations were obviously secondary there. In the case of Tsuwanojō though the whole mountaintop was converted into a citadel and the natural elevation gave great views of the valley, and so the location and size of the tenshu could not have added much to vantage point or defence; the entire complex when see from below must've been intimidating enough.
avatar

ARTShogun

11 months ago
Score 0++

Tsuwanojō (Shimane-ken Tsuwano-chō)  津和野城 [島根県津和野町]

The ruins of Tsuwano Castle are incredible, comparable to the famous Takedajō, and exploring them was a thrilling adventure. Things get off to a jolly enough start as visitors can take a chairlift to the top. It didn't seem like it would be too difficult to hike back down, however. The lift's staging area is situated behind the demaru at the far end of the castle. This was off-limits when we visited due to some maintenance work. A temporary pathway over the mountain slope reaches around the demaru like a platform on a canopy walk.

At the main part of the castle work is ongoing to restore what looks like a collapsed wall segment, and a scaffolding stairway gives access to the ninomaru (second bailey). I was getting a bit discouraged with the amount of roped off areas, until I saw one gate ruin (specifically the Nishimon (West Gate)) which had not been cordoned off, perhaps because it was not anticipated that anybody would run off down there. I merrily did, of course, and climbed around the edge of the castle's former kitchen area, enjoying the ramparts there from below, before climbing up into the enclosure.

Passing beneath the tenshudai and coming to the sannomaru (third bailey)there are some fantastic scenes of the stone walls, particularly of the ramparts of the Jinshichi-kuruwa ("Hostage Enclosure"). The sannomaru terminates in a gate ruin. This too was not an area anyone was venturing near but I passed through the gate ruin and climbed down to view it from below.

This was all very exciting for here, I found, was a particularly beautiful part of the castle, replete with the mystery of its shambolic ruins. Then the wind blew savagely and despite the shining sun and clear blue sky, clouds blew over nearby mountains from across the valley. Foxes were wedded and cooling rain streaked about. Gor, said I, my god hath lent me, by this oroshi he hath sent me -- strange atmospheric phenomena hitherto unknown. And so believe it thou shalt not, fair reader, but in many of these pictures, even when the sky is bluest, there was a fine rain whirling about.

I passed over the tenshudai into the taikomaru (drum bailey), which has a beautiful gate ruin which leads to the top of the castle-mount. This final enclosure bends outward and so its fine ramparts can be appreciated from the taikomaru. The mountain winds still blew, and from across the ramaprts a man with no name stepped into my sight, his overcoat billowing behind him like a poncho, so that I thought it was Clint Eastwood up there. What was this, the rarified mountain air? From the top of the castle, being cautious of the strong winds, the whole castle town spread below can be seen, including samurai homes and the castles remaining extant structures. To these turrets at the foot of the mountain I went last: they are the Babasaki-yagura (the brown one) and the Miyagura (the white one).

Pictures are presented here largely in the order they were taken.

History:

The first fortification on this site was Sanbonmatsujō ("Three Pine Castle"), erected by Yoshimi Yoriyuki in 1283 (it was also called Ipponmatsujō so I don't know if they cut some of the pine trees down or what). His descendant, Yoshimi Hironaga, was on the wrong side of the Battle of Sekigahara (that is, the Western Army), and Sakazaki Naomori got his territory. It was Sakazaki who built Tsuwanojō whose remains grace the mountain today, although he left no heir and in 1616 Kamei Masanori took over. The Kamei Clan ruled until the Meiji Restoration.

Tsuwano Castle's tenshu (donjon) was destroyed by fire after a lightning strike in 1686 and was not rebuilt. What's strange about the Tsuwanojō tenshu was that it was built in a bailey on lower footing to another bailey above and adjacent - with ishigaki (stone-piled ramparts) directly behind it. Actually this reminded me of Ewloe Castle in Wales, a ruin I visited when I was last back in the UK, which was built right beneath a large ridge which almost equalled it in height. Needless to say, defensive considerations were obviously secondary there. In the case of Tsuwanojō though the whole mountaintop was converted into a citadel and the natural elevation gave great views of the valley, and so the location and size of the tenshu could not have added much to vantage point or defence; the entire complex when see from below must've been intimidating enough.
avatar

JthaasPeasant

65 months ago
Score 0++
If you've walked through all the red torii gates up to the Taikodani Inari Shrine, then these castle ruins are very easy to get to. Just walk through the carpark, follow the road down the mountain and after just a few minutes you'll see the chairlift on your right. You can pick up a free walking staff as you enter the site, which is useful as the path is quite uneven in places. I did see the signs warning about bears (which I admit did worry me a little) but fortunately I didn't see any. There were a number of workmen hammering away at some of the walls at the top of the mountain, so perhaps the noise scared them away! There isn't a lot left to see, but there's a lovely view and the remaining stone walls are quite impressive. The castle map shows how extensive the castle was in its time, but you do need to use your imagination to picture it now. It's quite overgrown, although perhaps the presence of workmen indicates that there's some restoration or repair work going on.
avatar

Regan53Peasant

124 months ago
Score 0++
I visited on 26th August 2011 (got soaked and bitten by myriads of mosquitoes in the process). The original structure must have been very impressive as the remaining stonework one can find is equally so. However, everything has been allowed to become very overgrown. I found it very difficult to relate the various components. I can't understand why it has been allowed to decay this way, after all, there's even a chair lift up to the ruins. Overall, I was very disappointed and it's not the easiest of places to get to. A low rating from me I'm afraid. Those responsible should see how well Takeda is being looked after - it's brilliant by comparison.