Yamagata Castle

From Jcastle.info



The castle originally established by Shiba Kaneyori at Yamagata is said to have been about the size of the honmaru of the later Yamagata castle. Shiba later took the name of the surrounding area and changed his name to Mogami. Mogami's ancestor Mogami Yoshiaki reconstructed the castle into a much larger fortress in 1592. He added the Ninomaru and Sannomaru baileys, but there was never a large main keep that you see at other castles. It did however have three 2 story and one 3 story yagura. While Mogami Yoshiaki went to the Battle of Sekigahara with Tokugawa Ieyasu, Uesugi Kagekatsu's general Naoe Kanetsugu went to attack Yamagata Castle but, supposedly, he could not find it in the thick fog. Thereafter, the castle was also known as kasumigajo, the castle in the haze.

At his peak after the battle of Sekigahara, Yoshiaki controlled land yielding 570,000 koku. Yoshiaki died in 1614 and his successor Iechika died shortly thereafter in 1617. His sucessor Yoshitoshi was reduced to 300,000 koku and later reassigned to Mikawa. The importance of Yamagata Castle to the Tokugawa rule over Eastern Japan declined over time, and with it the size of territory controlled by the lord of Yamagata Castle was also reduced.

Visit Notes

This castle is much bigger than you might expect and is really one of the best castles to visit in Tohoku. The East Main Gate was rebuilt in wood many years ago, but recently the Honmaru Masugata Gate has been splendidly rebuilt and they are still excavating around the honmaru with plans for further development. When you visit this castle, take time to walk around the top of the earthen embankment that encircles the Ninomaru and above the moat. You can catch many nice views of the moat and see the stone walls of the other three gates and the foundations of 2 more yagura. A couple of the gates are complex with very nice stonework.

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Castle Profile
English Name Yamagata Castle
Japanese Name 山形城
Alternate Names Kasumiga-jo, Kajo
Founder Shiba (Mogami) Kaneyori
Year Founded 1356
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, bridges, water moats, trenches, stone walls, walls
Visitor Information
Access Yamagata Station (Yamagata Shinkansen), walk 15 mins
Visitor Information The park is open from 5am-10pm from April to November and from 5:30am in the winter months. The East Main Gate is only open from April until the Culture Day weekend in November. Check the website for details about dates and times.
Time Required 120 mins
Website http://www.kankou.yamagata.yamagata.jp/
Location Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture
Coordinates 38° 15' 19.80" N, 140° 19' 39.40" E
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Added to Jcastle 2003
Admin Year Visited 2003, 2017
Admin Visits September 12, 2003; November 2, 2017

(16 votes)
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50 months ago
Score 1++
This is a great castle site to visit and the reconstructed gates are very nicely done. We could enter the East Gate (東大手門櫓); according to the sign it's opened April thru November, 9:30 to 17:00. Inside, there was a modest exhibition about the castle. There was a poster saying "please share your old photographs and maps with us, because we want to rebuild the goten (palace)", so I think this place has the potential of becoming a castle site the likes of Kanazawa, with many historically accurate structures.


60 months ago
Score 0++

Yamagata Castle is a partially reconstructed flat land castle. The Higashi Otemon (Eastern Gate), including its two adjoining tamon-yagura, and Inner Bailey Gate, as well as their connecting bridges, have been authentically reconstructed using historical materials. As well as Ishigaki, you can observe the outer and inner moats (the latter of which is now dried). So there is enough to see to attract history fans.

Formerly Yamagatajō also possessed 3 additional masugata gates on the outer moat, one additional masugata-mon on the inner moat, several two-storey yagura and a three-storey yagura on the outer moat, along with other fortifications. The honmaru did not have a mainkeep, but hosted a go’ten palace.

Kiddus i2003Gunshi

69 months ago
Score 0++
Not a lot to see , but still worth the visit after having made a trip to nearby Yamadera temples.


71 months ago
Score 0++
I was just there this morning, and was quite impressed by the reconstructions. It was absolutely freezing though, and so I think I'd like to go back when it's warmer! I am also collecting the 100名城 stamps, so I had a bit of trouble finding it. The guide book I have said it was at the 二の丸東大手門, but I found it at the 山形市郷土館 museum.. The woman there was very friendly!


78 months ago
Score 0++
When i arrived at the Yamagata station this morning, i went to the informationdesk. The lady was very helpful and she asked if i came with a JR-pass. After sawing it, she gave me 2 postcards as present. I then went to the castle. The reconstructed gates are very nicely done, being in wood. There aren't a lot of other buildings or ishigaki, but excavations are still done. There are no explanations in english. After the castle i went to the Mogami Yoshiaki historical museum. It's free to enter. The staffmembers were very friendly. They spoke their best english. Since i'm a foreigner i received a booklet in english about the exhibition and a book which is the translation in english of the Mogami chronicles. During the visit of the museum a staff-member went with me and gave some explanation of the artifacts.


111 months ago
Score 0++
I was really impressed by the reconstructions at Yamagata and all the work that seems to be going into new ones. They are really enthusiastic about this site – at the moment work is underway to reconstruct the floor plans of the honmaru – the reconstruction work in picture six has largely been completed and there is now a bridge there, and a viewing platform to let you take really good pictures of the bridge. Even though the site incorporates sports facilities and a museum it is still very accessible and enjoyable and easy to walk the entire circumference of the moat and see all the gates. You can even go down and walk alongside the moat on some sides or along the top. The stone walls made from the river stones are really pretty and they have a good open air display on the creation of ishigaki as well. We ran out of time for the museums but did get to see inside the East gate. The statue of Mogami is quite rare in Japan because it realistically shows a horse rearing up two legs – it also makes it kind of tricky to get a decent snap of the statue and castle. Also, not a castle at all, but the Bunshokan museum in the old Prefectural Diet is a gorgeous old building that looks like a slice of Europe.

Frank T.Gunshi

120 months ago
Score 0++
I have been here a few times over the last several years, and there always seems to be something going on and something new. What's nice is they're doing things the right way--as authentically as possible. If I get the chance to stop by next year, it will be interesting to see what's new.