Wakamiko Castle

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Wakamikojou (1).JPG


Wakamikojō is said to have began as a residence of Minamoto Yoshimitsu or his son, Minamoto Yoshikiyo, founders of the Takeda Clan, but this has not been ascertained by history. Either way it seems to have been a castle maintained by the Takeda Clan, and if the tradition of this being Yoshimitsu's castle was in place in the Sengoku period, then the castle would've had great symbolic value for the Takeda. In practical terms the castle was used to guard the route into Saku District, Shinano Province, from Kai Province, and would've been key to Takeda Shingen's invasion of Saku. After the fall of the Takeda Clan in 1582, their home province of Kai was fought over by the Tokugawa and the Hōjō clans. Hōjō Ujinao conquered Wakamikojō in June of that year, pushing back the Tokugawa forces to Shinpujō. Wakamikojō was then used as a base to attack Shinpujō and other targets. According to Hōjō Ujimasa, Wakamikojō was essential in the fight against Tokugawa Ieyasu. It was without a doubt the Hōjō who constructed the unebori (dry moats with ridges forming compartments) we now see as a remnant of the castle today. In October of 1582 the Hōjō and Tokugawa formed an alliance, however, and the Hōjō retreated from Kai. Wakamikojō may have been abandoned at this time.

Visit Notes

Wakamikojō is now a park, but some earthworks remain. The highlight is a small segment of dry moat of the unebori type. This type of moat had ridges of earth within which would prevent enemies from moving easily inside of the moat. Unebori are found at many Sengoku period Hōjō castles but are rare in these parts. The moat is rather shallow, giving the impression that it has filled up with earth over time, but I'm pretty sure that it was deliberately "restored" this way. The trace of this moat continues along but here it has been filled in / not re-excavated. Perhaps the path between the two segments was a dobashi (earthen bridge) or some kind of bridge, as the paved space here is thought to have been the castle's main bailey. The terrain decreases in short drops, and moats once broke up the plateau in various places. Beneath the main bailey a beacon tower was reconstructed. It was known from archaelogical findings that a simple tower had stood here, due to holes for the legs of the tower being found, but, of course, the wooden tower itself being long gone, they based the reconstructed tower on images found in the Wakansansaizue (Illustrated Sino-Japanese Encyclopedia), an Edo period encyclopedia with pictures compiled in 1712. Some castle bloggers have disparaged this reconstruction (Ranmaru-sensei calls it 'something from the Lord of the Rings film'). I can't give my opinion because it's gone now. I found only four concrete blocks with metal casements inside where the tower's wooden legs had been inserted. The untreated wood exposed to the elements mustn't've lasted more than a couple of decades, and once the thing became a hazard it was roped off and eventually torn down. Ah, well! The southern portion of the plateau is situated a little lower than the rest of the castle, and is wooded. I suspected I found earthworks here such as a karabori (dry moat). Other mounds of earth and such exist but are hard to positively identify as the remains of the castle.

  • Unebori

Castle Profile
English Name Wakamiko Castle
Japanese Name 若神子城
Alternate Names Wakamikokojō (若神子古城)
Founder Takeda Clan; Hōjō Ujinao
Year Founded Kamakura Period; 1582
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Local Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Artifacts Unebori, Karabori, Kuruwa
Features trenches
Visitor Information
Access Hinoharu Station on the Chūō Line; 60 minute walk.
Visitor Information 24/7 free; park
Time Required 30 minutes
Location Hokuto, Yamanashi Prefecture
Coordinates 35° 47' 39.77" N, 138° 25' 7.25" E
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Added to Jcastle 2022
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
Friends of JCastle
Jōkaku Hōrōki

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