Yokochi Castle

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History

Yokochi Castle was built in the 14th century by the Yokochi Clan which is said to have been founded by Yokochi Ienaga, born 1051, who was a bastard of Minamoto Yoshiie. As far back as the Heian period the Yokochi Clan served the Minamoto Clan; they fought with Minamoto Yoshitomo in the Hōgen rebellion, and later served Minamoto Yoritomo in the Kamakura period when they became powerful feudal lords.

In 1476, Imagawa Yoshitada had been waging a war against the Yokoto and Katsumata clans following his invasion of Tôtōmi Province, and that year he succeeded in killing the lord of Yokochijō, Yokochi Hidekuni, and destroying Yokochi Castle. However, Imagawa Yoshitada was then ambushed and killed by remnants of the defeated clans as he marched home, and the Yokochi Clan continued on for a time, but were finally defeated in the early 16th century by Imagawa Ujichika.


Visit Notes

Yokochijō, also called Yokojijō as an alternative reading of the same characters, is a yamajiro (mountaintop castle) complex ruin in Higashi-Yokoji township, Kikugawa Municipality. Yokochijō refers to three clusters of fortifications in a row immediately adjacent to each other on the mountain. The fortified peaks of the east and west each rise up with a middle, lower fortified space between them. This trio of interconnected forts is further categorised as part of the Kikugawa-jōkan-gun, a network of hilltop fortifications and fortified residences in Kikugawa.

The three sections of Yokochijō are called Yokochi-Nishijō, Yokochi Naka-no-shiro, and Yokochi-Higashijō, the latter also referred to as Kinjujō. Since all of these fortifications are contiguous to at least one other fort, I'm treating Yokochijō as a single site. Signs at the castle call Yokochi-Higashijō 'Kinjujō' with 'honmaru ("main bailey")' in brackets, but maybe it would be better to call it the 'main bailey complex' since it is a collection of many baileys; Kinjujō is generally considered to be the main fortification out of the entire complex.

Yokochijō's residential area is a long, flattened mountain 'saddle' between the western and central fort complexes called the 'thousand tatami manor hall'; the path up from the carpark leads up to here. Since it is immediately south of Nishi-no-shiro, I proceeded to Nishijō from here. The western fort is now a shrine, and the layout is of step-like terraces climbing the hillside, with some of the terraces further divided with hori (trenches) and dorui (earthen ramparts). Some westerly spurs of mountain are also protected by trenches. It seems the ridges to the north were flattened and fortified, but now they are far too overgrown to access.

Yokochijō Naka-no-shiro is the middle fort of the group. It contains horikiri (trenches cutting through the ridge), yokobori (lateral moats) and dorui. The yokobori is now quite shallow, but it is an interesting feature, seen beneath the ramparts of the central bailey. An impressive horikiri is found in the east of the fort.

Yokochijō Higashi-no-shiro, also called Kinjujō in isolation, is the largest fort of the complex of forts which make up Yokochijō. The main bailey complex consists of a narrow strip of baileys atop with terraced koshikuruwa (terraced baileys) on the northern slope. These carved ramparts are tall and are arrayed formiddably. The lowest koshikuruwa has a well site in it. The western side of the eastern fort has terraces, and both horikiri and tatebori (climbing trenches) on the hillside. The northern area of Higashijō is quite extensive and contains baileys along ridges divided by horikiri. The eastern side of the eastern fort is difficult to navigate, but there are tatebori and horikiri beneath terraced baileys here too. Only the southern face of the fort, directly beneath the main bailey, is not fortified, as here the mountain drops away precipitously.

Yokochijō is a vast site with many features. It is also generally well-maintained, so that the contours of the fort and its features are easy to appreciate even for castle-explorer novices. The advanced explorer will be able to identify yet more features with a little effort. I highly recommend this nationally designated historical site to all castle fans.




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Castle Profile
English Name Yokochi Castle
Japanese Name 横地城
Alternate Names Kinjujō (金寿城)
Founder Yokochi Clan
Year Founded 14th Century
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations National Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Artifacts Kuruwa, Horikiri, Tatebori, Dorui, &c.
Features trenches
Visitor Information
Access Nearest station is Kikugawa Station on the Tōkaidō Main Line
Visitor Information 24/7 free; mountain
Time Required 120 minutes
Website https://www.city.kikugawa.shizuoka.jp/shakaikyouiku/shiteibunkazai/yokochishijoukanato.html
Location Kikugawa, Shizuoka Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 43' 41.38" N, 138° 7' 4.19" E
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Admin
Added to Jcastle 2024
Contributor ART
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed
Friends of JCastle
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