Kannonji Castle was located in Kinugasayama, a 432.7 meter low mountain popularly called Kannonjiyama, in Azuchi Town in Shiga Prefecture. It is a nationally designated Historic Site.
The origin of the castle is not clear, but it had been resided by generations of the Sasaki clan, the governor of Omi province. After the Sasaki clan was divided into the two clans, the Rokkaku clan and the Kyogoku clan, the Rokkaku clan lived in the castle. In 1568, during the time of Rokkaku Yoshikata and his son, Yoshiharu, the castle was attacked by Oda Nobunaga, who was on his way to Kyoto. The castle fell and dismantled.
Covering the whole mountain as the castle area, it is one of the few largest-scaled mountain castles in the Middle Ages in Japan. The ruins of stone works and earthworks remaining everywhere in the mountain suggest that the castle had many large and small compounds. The wall made of huge stones can be seen around Kannonjisho Temple, a Holy Place of the Saigoku Pilgrimage, near the top of the mountain. The mountain path serves as a good hiking course today.
Baba-tate Castle located in the town of Kamata, Hokota City, Ibaragi Pref. is one of Kamata Hakkan (eight secondary castles) of Kamata Castle built by Kamata clan in the early Kamakura period. As the name Baba (riding ground) shows, it used to be the riding ground of the main castle and adjacent Shingu Shrine. Each of the eight castles, which consist of Baba-tate, Fujiyama-tate, Hanawa-tate, Hahagai-yakata, Kanjochi-yakata, Odoue-yakata, Ryugaya-yakata, and Kanashiki-yakata, was resided by a powerful vassal of Kamata clan and functioned as the defense fort of the main castle. Baba-tate was in the shape of trapezoid, and it had a very simple early Middle-Age-typed structure. Now the main building was lost and only a part of the water moat and the earthwork remain at the present time.
Ogawa Castle in Higashiura Town in Aichi Prefecture was constructed by Mizuno Sadamori, the founder of Mizuno clan, during the Bunmei era (1469-1487).
Sadamori, a descendant of the Ogawa clan, which ruled this area about 100 years before, changed his family name to Mizuno when he was staying at the place named Mizuno in the eastern part of Owari province. After the Onin War, he assembled the former vassals to restore his ancestor’s territory and constructed the castle in the ruins site of the old fort.
For about 130 years since then, the castle was resided by the five generations of the Mizuno clan. During the Warring States period, the Mizuno clan spent eventful years surrounded by the powerful daimyo clans such as Oda, Matsudaira (Tokugawa) and Imagawa. In the Edo period, the Mizuno clan became a Fudai daimyo (hereditary vassals of the Shogun) and was appointed to be the lord of domains all over the country.
Lady Odai, Tokugawa Ieyasu's mother, was born in this castle in 1528 as the daughter of Tadamasa, the 4th generation lord. The stone monument for her birthplace is erected in the castle ruins site. Mizuno Tadakuni, the advocate of the Tenpo Reforms (1844), was also a descendant of this clan.
As Tadamasa constructed and moved to a new castle, it has been called Fujiro, meaning “Old Castle” by local people. The ruins site was arranged into a park and only a part of the earth work on the north side remains today.
At the end of the Edo period, the Tokugawa Shogunate decided to end its policy of national isolation and took the first step to open the country at last. However, they were cautious about the Russia’s southern expansion and orders several domains in the Tohoku district including the Sendai domain to reinforce the defense of Hokkaido. The former site of Shiraoi Jinya, or the Sendai Clan Manor House, is the ruins of one of the base camps constructed by the Sendai domain in the town of Shiraoi in the western part of Hokkaido.
Shiraoi Jinya was the largest base camp in Hokkaido. The range of defense that the Sendai domain undertook covered a huge area from Shiraoi Town to the northern territories including the islands of Kunashiri (Kunashir) and Etorofu (Iturup), which amounts to one third of Hokkaido. Today, a part of earth works and wooden walls remain as they were in those days. The ruin site is arranged into a fine park, but visitors can feel the breath of warriors who risked their lives in defending the country in the turbulent eras.
Tsugaru-Fukushima Castle was the biggest castle in the Tohoku region until modern times. It had a 650,000-square-meter outer ward and a 40,000-square-meter inner ward.
Within the site there is evidence of pit dwellings, outer and inner moats, mounds as well as gate and wall pillars that date to ancient or medieval times.
The castle was the base of the Ando family, which controlled the port of Jusan. Excavation in 1992 revealed that the castle was a full-dress castle with solid mounds and large moats. Moreover, despite an accepted theory, no medieval relic was found predating the 11th century. So, it is likely that Fukushima Castle was built in the 11th century and the inner ward was where soldiers were assembled and some rituals were held.
Iwatsuki Park located in Iwatsuki-ku, Saitama City, Saitama Prefecture is a public park, which used to be the castle ground of Iwatsuki Castle.
It is believed that Iwatsuki Castle was built in 1457 by Ota Doshin and his son Dokan under the order of Uesugi Mochitomo, who wanted to suppress the movement of Koga Kubo (the governor general of the Kanto region), Ashikaga Nariuji. However, in the recent years, a newly founded historical record says that it was founded by Narita Shoto, a local minor domain lord and served for Koga Kubo, and this theory is thought to be more reliable now.
Surrounded with natural groves, the park has many ups and downs, where part of the earth work of the castle remains today. The park is one of the most famous cherry blossom viewing spots in the prefecture. The full-blown blossoms of 800 cherry trees seen from the vermillion Yatsuhashi Bridge (zig-zag bridge) over the iris pond is especially beautiful. It is also known as the place to see water lilies.
Here you can enjoy wonderful natural sights as well as various festivals and events all through the year including Cherry Blossom Festival, “nagashi-bina” ritual (drifting Hina dolls) and Ningyo Kuyo (a funeral mass for used dolls).
Chiba Castle located in Inohana, Chuo-ku, Chiba City was built by Chiba Tsuneshige in 1126 as a residence of the Chiba clan. In 1455, when Chiba Tanenao was defeated by Makuwari Yasutane, the castle was dismantled. The castle was located on the cliff at the end of a tonguing hill. The castle was protected by the steep cliffs on the south and west sides of the hill and the river running in the north. On the castle ruin site stands the donjon in the near modern style, which was built in 1967 and has been used as a city’s Folk Museum. The earthwork and part of dry moat remain to the northwest of the donjon. It is presumed that the castle had three main buildings in the middle age style. We can imagine the prosperity of the Chiba clan in those days from Dainichiji Temple, where the graves of the successive heads of the clan are placed, and many other temples in the city.
Minowa Castle located in Minowa-cho, Takasaki City, Gunma Pref. is one of the largest medieval castles in the prefecture. The castle was built in 1526 (during the Warring States period) by Nagano Narihisa, a powerful clan in Nagano Village in Kozuke province (present-day Gunma Pref.). The Nagano clan had long served as a powerful retainer of the Uesugi clan, the Kanto Kanrei (the responsible head of the shogun’s executive office in the Kanto region). Nagano Narihisa served for Uesugi Norimasa as his right-hand man and supported him to his last breath. He also expanded his power by making kin relationship and exerting leadership and become the most powerful clan in the western part of Kozuke province. Later his son Narimori resided in the castle, but in 1566 it was attacked by Takeda Shingen and the Nagano clan was brought to extinction. Since then the castle was resided by the retainers of the Takeda clan, the retainers of Oda Nobunaga, and the Hojo clan. Finally, the castle was given to Ii Naomasa, one of the four powerful retainers of Tokugawa Ieyasu, in 1590, but its 72 years of history ended in 1598, when Naomasa moved to Takasaki Castle. The castle area covers as large as 47 ha, where stone walls, earthworks and dry moats now remain.