5.根城(Ne Castle)

Ne Castle is a castle which has been rebuilt thanks to the great effort of the local people and officials.

復元された本丸主殿(The restored Honmaru Main Hall)

Location and History

The castle was located in what is now Hachinohe City, Aomori pref. which has been the opening for the northern Tohoku region and has flourished through trading since the Middle Ages.

八戸市の位置(The position of Hachinohe City)licensed by Lincun via Wikipedia Commons

In the period of the Northern and Southern Courts, Moroyuki Nanbu was sent to Mutsu Province by the Southern Court to govern this area. He first built Ne Castle on a hill in Nukanobu district after the former ruler Hojo’s hall in 1334.

八戸博物館前の南部師行像(The statue of Moroyuki Nanbu in front of the Hachinohe Museum)licensed via Wikipedia Commons

The castle had the main enclosure “Honmaru” with the main palace and related buildings surrounded by fences and dry moats. The entrance called “Koguchi” was accessed by a bridge which would be destroyed in an emergency. The main hall was rebuilt even16 times ,for example, when inheritance. During that time, the castle area was expanded adding seven similar enclosures called “Date”. This is one of typical castle styles in the Middle Ages.

本丸入り口の橋(The entrance bridge of Honmaru)

The Nanbu clan had been staying at the castle for over 250 years, but at the end of the Warring States Period, Nobunao Nanbu, a relative in Sannohe Castle had great influence and was admitted to be the head of the Nanbu clan by the ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi. Toyotomi ordered Ne Castle to be destroyed, however, it was not done as completely as just the Koguchi was removed and moats were filled. After that, the main hall was used for a while, but it was finally abandoned in 1627.

堀の跡(The ruins of a moat)


Now, the Honmaru area is restored to show it was. You can go across the bridge on the dry moat and pass the Koguchi to enter the area. The inside is surrounded by a wood fence.

本丸の木柵(The wood fence around Honmaru)

You can also see and enter the restored main palace where figures represent a new-year ceremony and panels of its history are shown.

復元された本殿(The restored Main Palace)licensed by 小池隆 via Wikimedia Commons

There are also restored related buildings such as a stable, workshops, warehouses, and a forge. Many things like armor and utensils are placed inside exactly like the original ones.

復元された馬小屋(The restored stable)licensed by 小池隆 via Wikimedia Commons
復元された工房(The restored workshop)
工房の内部(The inside of the workshop)

These items make you feel like you are in the world of the Middle Ages. They are recreated according to the same specifications as the period just before the destruction of the castle in 1592.

本丸内部全景(The whole view of Honmaru inside)

Later Life

After being abandoned, the area of Ne Castle seemed to be used for farming and residences. It was designated as a national historic site, comparatively early in 1941. After World War II, officials were worried about the ruins being developed and completely destroyed. They started to make the land public in1972, make the plan for developing environment of the ruins in 1978, and excavated Honmaru area until 1989. After that, they also thought about how to show the ruins not a flat exhibit, but a restoration to make them understood by many people.

根城の航空写真、一部が住宅化している(The aeriel photo of Ne Castle, Part of it has become residential area)

However, there would be some problems.. The most difficult one was the unclear details of the buildings. The excavation mostly shows plenty of holes for pillars. Researchers somehow managed to sort them and estimate the layout of each building. Next, they tried to design three-dimensional restored buildings from examples in similar regions and periods. Finally, the reconstruction was completed and the site was open to the public in 1994 as “Nejo Castle Site”.

復元された建物の柱の位置(The restored positions of pillars of a building)

My Impression

People and officials in Hachinohe City have been developing the Ne Castle Site for nearly 50 years. This is a significant achievement. I really respect them. The restored buildings and objects are made in the traditional way. Keeping them for a long time requires specific maintenance and much funding. Visiting the site helps keep it as well. Of course Ne Castle is worth visiting to feel the atmosphere of the Middle Ages.

復元された倉庫の内部(The inside of a restored warehouse)

How to get There

If you want to go there by car: It takes about 10 minutes from the Hachinohe IC on Hachinohe Expressway.
If you want to go there by bus from Hachinohe station: Take the Nanbu bus at the bus terminal plarfoem 1, and take off at the Ne-Jo bus stop.
From Tokyo to Hachinohe st.: Take the Tohoku Shinkansen super express.

Links and References

・「日本の遺跡19根城跡/佐々木浩一」同成社(Japanese Book)

投稿者: Yuzo

城巡りが好きなYuzoです。日本には数万の城があったといわれています。その内の200名城を手始めにどんどん紹介していきます。 I'm Yuzo, I love visiting castles and ruins. It is said that there were tens of thousands castles in Japan. I will introduce you top 200 castles and ruins of them, and more!

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