16.Minowa Castle Part2

You can see how the castle was developed at the site.


Older part of Castle

Today, the ruins of Minowa Castle have been well developed for visitors. If you have a car, you can park at some parking lots for the visitors beside the ruins. The main parking lot is the eastern foot of the hill where the castle was located. You can walk up from the parking lot to the ruins on a gentle winding slope which was actually the Back Route. You will first reach the Second Enclosure, part of the main portion of the castle.

The map around the castle

The Back Route
Going to the Second Enclosure

The main portion consists of the Second, Main and Gozen Enclosures from south to north. These enclosures are basically surrounded by thick earthen walls and divided by deep dry moats, which are the oldest part of the castle. If you walk into the Main Enclosure where the hall of the lord was built, you can now see the recently restored wooden bridge connecting to the western part of the castle.

The Main Enclosure
The stone monument of the castle in the Main Enclosure
The wooden bridge connecting to the western part of the castle
The earthen walls of the Main Enclosure and the dry moat beside it

If you go further, you will reach the Gozen Enclosure, the last part of the Nagano Clan. There is the well in the enclosure, which was discovered in 1927, where many memorial tablets of the clan were found from the bottom. That meant the episode when the clan had been defeated may have been confirmed.

The Gozen Enclosure
The well where many memorial tablets of the clan were found

Vast Dry Moat

You can walk down the steep trail on the northern edge of the Gozen Enclosure to the bottom of the dry moat. If you turn right to the east, you will reach the Inari Enclosure that Naomasa Ii built. This enclosure had a water moat on the side in the past.

Walking down from the Gozen Enclosure to the bottom of the dry moat
The bottom of the dry moat beside the Gozen Enclosure
The Inari Enclosure and the former water moat beside it

If you turn left to the west, you can walk around the bottom and see how large and deep the moat is. You can also see the older stone walls surrounding the Gozen Enclosure, which the Nagano Clan might have built. If you go further to the south, you will arrive at the Second Enclosure.

The vast bottom of the dry moat
The remaining stone walls under the Gozen Enclosure
Going back to the Second Enclosure through under the wooden bridge

Umadashi System is developed later

The Second Enclosure was the pivot of offence and defense, where the three main routes to the castle are all together. Other than the Back Route from the east, the Main Route comes from the west and the other route comes from the south. In particular, a great artificial trench called O-Horikiri is dug in the southern side of the enclosure to prevent enemies’ attacks.

The great artificial trench
The bottom of the trench
The stone walls under the earthen bridge over the trench

Only the narrow earthen bridge is over the trench, connecting to the southern route. Moreover, a square stronghold called Kaku-Umadashi is sticking out of the Second Enclosure through the bridge. The Umadasi system is a unique defense system which the Takeda and Tokugawa Clans often used. This system in Minowa Castle was probably developed by Takeda and completed by Naomasa under Tokugawa. The two-story turret gate called Kaku-umadashi Western Entrance Gate was recently restored based on the achievement of the excavation, which had been the symbol of the castle.

The earthen walls over the trench
The square stronghold called Kaku-Umadashi
The restored turret gate
The Kaku-Umadashi seen from the south

To be continued in “Minowa Castle Part3”
Back to “Minowa Castle Part1”

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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