Ueda Castle

From Jcastle.info



Sanada Masayuki built Ueda Castle in 1583. In 1585 and 1600 he turned back two attacks by Tokugawa Ieyasu. Before the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Sanada met the forces of Tokugawa Hidetada at Ueda Castle. He repelled the 38,000 warriors of the Tokugawa with only 2500 castle defenders. The castle town was very well planned and the castle deftly made use of the rivers and landscape for its defense. This battle sufficiently delayed Hidetada so that he didn't arrive in time for the battle of Sekigahara.

After the Battle of Sekigahara, Ueda Castle was given over to Sanada Nobuyuki who was ordered to destroy it by the Tokugawa. He razed the castle and moved to Matsushiro Castle. Sengoku Tadamasa started rebuilding Ueda Castle in 1622. He redug the moat and started restoring the Honmaru and Ninomaru before he died. His work was not continued after his death, but the structures you see today date to this time period.

The North, South and West yagura are all original.

Visit Notes

This was a great castle to visit. The large tough gate flanked by 2 yagura is quite impressive. There is also a well on the temple grounds that also supposedly hid a secret passage out to the north of the castle.

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  • reconstructued gate and yagura
  • South Yagura
  • yaguramon gate
  • south yagura and yaguramon gate
  • inside of North Yagura
  • north yagura
  • north yagura
  • nishi yagura
  • nishi yagura and stone walls
  • honmaru moat
  • honmaru moat
  • dry moat
  • map
  • gate to the lord's palace.
  • moat
  • stone walls

Castle Profile
English Name Ueda Castle
Japanese Name 上田城
Alternate Names Amagafuchi-jo, Isesaki-jo, Matsuo-jo, Sanada-jo
Founder Sanada Masayuki
Year Founded 1583
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Designations Top 100 Castles, National Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Features gates, turrets, trenches, stone walls, walls
Visitor Information
Access Ueda Sta. (Nagano Shinkansen, 15 min walk)
Visitor Information
Time Required
Website http://www.city.ueda.nagano.jp/hp/ht/koen/20050222110926630.html
Location Ueda, Nagano Prefecture
Coordinates 36° 24' 14.40" N, 138° 14' 40.99" E
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Added to Jcastle 2008
Admin Year Visited 2008, 2009, 2016
Admin Visits October 16, 2008; April 4, 2009

(17 votes)
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6 months ago
Score 0++

Ueda Castle is a unique hirayamajiro, meaning a castle built in part as a flatland castle and in part as a castle which makes use of elevation. Sometimes the English ‘hilltop castle’ is supplied to mean ‘hirayamajiro’, but this is insufficient, and in Uedajō's case especially it is misleading. If anything Uedajō is a ‘clifftop castle’ (okajiro > gakejiro?). The castle sits atop a terrace of the Chikuma River, either along the cliffside or atop of tall stone-piled retaining walls. Yet, seemingly miraculously, one climbs up to find a large water-filled moat. How is the water supplied? In fact, to the east of the castle the ground slopes gently upward, and water was brought 4km from the Kangawa River to fill the castle's moats. The inner moat is drained in the southern portion either side of the castle's main entrance, probably to preserve the ishigaki which was built like a dam to brace the moat above the cliffside. A stream of water trickles out beneath this ‘water gate (mizuki?)’.

Another interesting feature of Uedajō are the two moat-enclosed square compounds in the castle's expansive sannomaru (third bailey). The honmaru and ninomaru of Uedajō were used by the lord of the castle, but the sannomaru was filled with bukeyashiki (samurai homes), except within the two yashiki in its southern part which functioned as satellite fortifications of the inner castle.


80 months ago
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I learnt about the following defensive feature at this castle: 千鳥掛け柵 CHIDORIGAKESAKU (Cross-stitch paling)

This device functions as a gigantic trap. Wooden palings or fences are erected between castle walls or along a town street which funnel the enemy. The enemy charges forward but now in a trickle. Because the palings slope inward pushing through them is not difficult. However, at the other side the enemy finds an ambush. Trying to retreat, the enemy is mowed down. Exiting via the Chidorigakesaku is much more difficult because the direction of the palings, sometimes with sharp points on the end, impedes the enemy, making it impossible to flee with haste. On either side of the palings are now pockets which attackers may turn into in their confusion and become trapped, easy to pick off by defenders. This device was employed with great success at the Battle of Kami River (1585) where the vastly outnumbered defenders of Ueda Castle, under Sanada Masayuki, trounced the numerically superior Tokugawa forces.

Anonymous user #1

150 months ago
Score 0++
The iconic gates were awesome. The well was interesting. The park grounds inside were nice and there were people having a picnic on the green clover in the honmaru area. I went here after Komoro on my way to Nagano. I wasn't really a Sanada Yukimura fan at all until I came to Ueda. Then the town worked its magic on me and I ended up buying a heap of gotochi goods. Ueda's Yukimura is more like the man of legend and less like the lad of pop culture. The Sanada family crest is everywhere over the town, from lamp-posts to man-hole covers, the city hall is covered in banners showing the 10 Yukimura Braves, and the words 'hi-no-moto-ichi-no-tsuwamono' are written everywhere. I also went to a museum with a small collection of armour and caltraps and a large collection of books.


167 months ago
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This castle is about a 15 minute walk from the train station. There isn’t much here except for the main gate and some turrets. Two of the turrets are original. The main gate has been reconstructed (very new inside.) Go down into the carpark and look up at the Nishi Yagura for a great view of the turret and ishigaki (stone walls).There is the Ueno City Museum on the Ninomaru grounds. It’s has the most extensive display of samurai armour and weapons out of all the museums that I visited in Nagano. Entry to main gate and museum cost 250yen. Ueda is a good place to base yourself for visiting the castles in this part of Nagano. I went to Ueda, Komoro, and Matsushiro Castle in one day after having stayed overnight at a business hotel in Ueda. I did not have enough time to visit a fourth castle in one day, but you can also see Arato Castle from the Shinano Line as you pass one of the train stations (sorry, forgot its name) heading towards Yashiro.


168 months ago
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I went there in last april. This site is really worth a visit, especially when the sakura are blooming. The musea in the towers and on the precincts of the castlesite are certainly to be commended.