186.Kaneda Castle Patr3

There are branch paths from the first turning point of the main hiking course to other attractions of the castle ruins. The paths are not the former military road and are a little rougher than it. However, it is worth to visit.


Three Gate Ruins

There are branch paths from the first turning point of the main hiking course to other attractions of the castle ruins. The paths are not the former military road and are a little rougher than it. These are not as popular as the military road. However, it is worth to visit. If you walk down the path for a while, you will be at the junction of another path to the first and second gate ruins, and the other path to the third gate ruins.

The map around the castle

The path from the first switchback

The junction is near a hill called Bingushi Mountain where the ruins of other buildings were discovered. These buildings are thought to have been used as barracks for the Sakimori soldiers.

The diorama of Kaneda Castle Ruins, exhibited by the sightseeing information center Fureaidokoro Tsushima, adding the branch paths (the red lines), and the places of the second gate (marked by the blue circle) and the third gate (marked by the yellow circle)
The path to the ruins of the first and the second gates
The path to the ruins of the third gate
Around the Bingushi Mountain, you can see a rest station on the left
Around the Bingushi Mountain on the diorama

The three gates were built using stones at the eastern side as castle and water gates near the seaside. The stones used in the castle are mainly natural while part of the stones of the first gate are rectangular- processed. However, it is said that they were piled by the Tsushima Domain during the Edo Period to guard the coast. They’ve been restored and repaired so that visitors can see them as if they used to look.

Around the second gate on the diorama
The second gate ruins seen from above
The second gate ruins seen from the bottom
The first gate ruins
The types of the stones were different in the upper and lower parts of the first gate
Going to the third gate ruins after once returning the junction
The third gate ruins

Wonderful Stone Walls along Sea

After you visit the third gate ruins, you can return by the same route or by another path though the southeast stone fortress. If you take the latter, you will see the great long stone walls of the eastern side on the right and beautiful Aso Bay on the left. Please watch your step as the path is partially unstable.

Going towards the southeast stone fortress
There are great stone walls along the sea
They are spectacular long stone walls!

The southeast stone fortress is really great, too! The corner of the fortress was protruded outward to build a salient with enhanced defense in preparation for an enemy’s attack. It looks like a Gusuku (Okinawan castle) or a small Great Wall of China. If you walk up along the fortress, you will return to the route you passed.

The southeast stone fortress
The edge of the fortress
It’s a good contract of the fortress and the sea
Around the southeast fortress on the diorama

Later History

People alway knew about Kaneda Castle because it had been recorded in the Nihon-shoki chronicles, however, they didn’t know about where it was as it had been abandoned too early to remember. For example, trade with Korea was done at a shrine near the first gate during the Middle Ages and the Tsushima Domain used the gate during the Edo Period, but they didn’t notice it was a ancient mountain castle. There is no telling how the Imperial Japanese Army treated it. Historians discovered the ruins on the mountain in the Taisho Era (1910-1925) and they finally confirmed it as Kaneda Castle after World War II. As a result, the ruins were designated as a National Special Historic Site in 1982.

The ruins of Kaneishi Castle, the home of the Tsushima Domain

My Impression

I was very surprised to see that the Joyama Mountain has become dual historical sites of the ancient times and modern times. Both sites show us there were strained relations with foreign countries at those times. Other than that, Tsushima also had dramatic events such as during the Mongolian Invasions and the invasion of Korea by Hideyoshi Toyotomi. On the other hand, there were also peaceful relationships such as with the Korean Envoys. We can now see many tourists visiting Tsushima from Korea recently, too. There is no need to say which is better.

The figures of the Korean Envoys, exhibited by Kokura Castle Tower

How to get There

I recommend using a car to get there. It takes about 20 minutes from Tsushima Airport or about 30 minutes from Izuhara Port. There is a small parking lot at the starting point of the hiking course.

The Izuhara Port
The small parking lot at the starting point of the hiking course

That’s all. Thank you.
Back to “Kaneda Castle Part1”
Back to “Kaneda Castle Part2”

184.基肄城~Kii Castle

A castle like a lookout

立地と歴史~Location and History

古代山城の一つ~One of Ancient Mountain Castles

Kii Castle is one of ancient mountain castles in western Japan. It was built by the Imperial Court after the Battle of Baekgang, Korea in 663. Japan tried to help Baekje, but was beaten by the ally of Tang and Silla. Emperor Tenchi, worried by the future possibility of invasion by this alliance, ordered the construction of these castles with the help of Baekje refugees. That’s why these castles are also called “Korean style mountain castles”.

白村江の戦いの図~The map about the Battle of Baekgang(licensed by Samhanin via Wikimedia Commons)

城特有の役割~Castle’s own Role

Kii Castle was one of the five recorded ones in Kyushu region. The others were Ono, Mizuki, Kikuchi, and Kaneda. Each castle had its own role. I think Kii Castle was kind of a lookout castle. If the ally were to attack Japan, there would be two possible routes to enter from. Both would first pass through Tsushima Island on Tsushima Strait where Kaneda Castle was built. There are speculations that the routes may be divided around Iki Island, one would land on the Fukuoka plain through Hakata Bay from the north direction, and the other would land on the Saga plain through Ariake Bay from the west direction.

九州地方の5つの記録された古代山城の位置~The location of five recorded ancient mountain castles in Kyushu region

Kii Castle was built on Kizan mountain (404m above sea level) and from its top both the Fukuoka and the Saga plains are visible. It was mainly prepared for the protection of Saga, while Mizuki was built for the protection of Fukuoka. Kizan mountain has three ridges (the top, the North Peak, and the East Peak) surrounding the valley on the south. The earthen walls were built along the ridges whose overall length was 3.9km. The stone walls were also built on the southern valley which had drains to control water. The castle had four gates and lots of buildings inside such as warehouses and barracks.

城周辺の起伏地図~The relief map around the castle

戦国時代に再利用~It was reused in Sengoku Period

Old books say that Kii Castle was built in 665, and repaired in 698. As a result, the ally fortunately did not attack Japan. Some historians believe that the castle’s warehouses and barracks were used until around the 8th and 9th centuries. Around the 15th and 16th centuries which is also sometimes known as “Sengoku” Period or the Warring State Period, the castle was used again by some warlords, because of its good location.

戦国時代の城跡~The ruins of the castle in the Sengoku Period


Now (in February 2021), it is impossible for anyone to enter the center of the castle ruins, and walk straight through the whole area. This is because the area was seriously destroyed by the heavy rain in western Japan in 2018. The local government bans the use of roads and trails in that area. For this reason, visitors are able to see only some spots that the Local Government has opened. I will describe two spots you can visit now.

城周辺の地図~The map around the castle

基山山頂~Summit of Kizan

This was the highest spot of the castle and the western part of the earthen walls, as well as the Main Enclosure of the castle in Sengoku Period. The outside is steep slope, so it is now used as a grass ski ground. There is a parking lot on the foot of the summit where you can park your cars while visiting the ruins. Its 15 minutes climb to the top and on the way you will see many ditches . You may think they are some of the entrances, but they are, in fact, ruins of dry moats called “Imono-gangi”, made by the lord of the Sengoku castle.

土塁外側の急坂~The steep slope outside of the earthen walls
「いものがんぎ」と呼ばれる空堀跡~The ruins of dry moats called “Imono-gangi”

Over the dry moats, you will enter the widely open area, on the earthen walls. You can see the ridge of the mountain, the earthen walls, that goes both north and south. You can also have a view of the Fukuoka plain with the signboard of Kii Castle on the north.

基肄城の標識~The signboard of Kii Castle
福岡平野の眺め~A view of the Fukuoka Plain

Next, if you go to the opposite side on the south, you can find artificial mounds, which are also the ruins of the Main Enclosure in Sengoku Period. The Enclosure is situated on the top of the mountain. There is another monument for Emperor Tenchi. You can also see the Saga plain from the top.

南の方角を見る~Lookng at the south direction
戦国時代の本丸跡~The ruins of the Main Enclosure in Sengoku Period
天智天皇の記念碑~The monument for Emperor Tenchi
佐賀平野の眺め~A view of the Saga Plain

水門跡~Ruins of Water Gate

This spot was located on the southern part of the castle where the stone walls were built with the water gate to fill the valley. Part of the stone walls with the gate remain now. To visit them, you have to take a different route. The remaining stone walls are 26m long and 8.5m tall. The water gate is placed under the wall to drain the water of Sumiyoshi-gawa River from the inside to the outside.

水門跡~The ruins of the water gate(licensed by Wxrx via Wikimedia Commons)

その後~Later History

Even in the Edo Period (around the 18th and 19th centuries), people recognized Kii Castle as ancient ruins, because the castle have been recorded in an official history book called “Nihon-Shoki”. The ruins were finally designated as a Special National Historic Site in 1954.

基肄城の土塁~The earthen walls of Kii Castle

私の感想~My Impression

When I visited the summit of Kizan, and saw great views both of the Fukuoka and Saga plains from the top, I really found out the castle had a very good location. The local government says that the roads in the center of the ruins will be repaired by March 2022. I would like to visit them again after that.

基山山頂付近~Around the top of Kizan mountain

ここに行くには~How to get There

I recommend you to go there by car at this point.
The ruins are within 5 km away from the Chikushino IC on Kyushu Expressway.
If you drop by at the Kizan Town hall, the officials will offer you the detailed routes to the ruins.

リンク、参考情報~Links and References

基肄城跡、基山町(Kizan Town Official Website)

86.大野城~Ono Castle

The guardian of the western capital “Dazaifu”

立地と歴史~Location and History

古代山城の一つ~One of Ancient Mountain Castles

Ono Castle was one of ancient mountain castles in western Japan. It was built by the Imperial Court after the Battle of Baekgang, Korea in 663. Japan tried to help Baekje, but was beaten by the ally of Tang and Silla. Emperor Tenchi was scared of invasion by the ally, so he ordered the construction of these castles with the help of the refugees from Baekje. That’s why these castles are also called “Korean style mountain castles”.

白村江の戦いの図~The map about the Battle of Baekgang(licensed by Samhanin via Wikimedia Commons)

These ancient mountain castles looked very different from the typical castles built later in Japan, like Himeji, Osaka, and Nagoya castles, because their main structures were an outline surrounding the top of the mountain with earthen and stone walls, water reservoirs, and entrance gates. There seemed to be buildings for offices, barracks, and warehouses inside these castles, so in case of an emergency, people could escape from plain areas, and continue to live and govern preventing enemies’ invasion.

古代山城の一つ、鬼ノ城での復元例~An example of the restoration for Kino-Jo, one of the ancient mountain castles

大宰府を守る城~Castle protecting Dazaifu

Ono Castle was definitely the most important ancient mountain castle among them, as it was located on a mountain called “Shioji-yama”, behind the ancient Japanese local government, “Dazaifu”. Dazaifu basically governed the area of Kyushu Region, but it also had very important duties, like taking care of Japan’s diplomacy and defense because it is located near China and Korea. The government office and town were built similar to the capital of Japan.

大宰府跡と四王寺山~The ruins of Dazaifu and Mt. Shioji-yama
大宰府政庁の模型~The miniature model of the Dazaifu office building(大宰府展示館~Dazaifu Site Exhibition Hall)

In addition, Shioji-yama mountain was the most suitable for the mountain castle. Its ridge rounds the flat center. The ridge could be the outline, and buildings could be built at the center, but it was not enough. People made great efforts to build earthen walls along the ridge using a method called Rammed earth, and further build stone walls to fill valleys with the help of the technicians from Beakje. The overall length of the outline reached 8.4km.

四王寺山の模型~The miniature model of Mt. Shioji-yama(大宰府展示館~Dazaifu Site Exhibition Hall

敵は来なかった~Enemy didn’t come

Fortunately, the ally did not attack Japan. Japanese old history books such as “Nihon-shoki” and “Shoku-nihongi” say that the castle was built in 665, and repaired in 698. However, it seemed to have been abandoned at some point.

城の位置~The location of the castle


Now, the ruins of Ono Castle are spread mainly along the outline, so it takes a lot of time to see all of them. This time, I will describe two areas where you can see representative ones in a short time.

城周辺の地図~The map around the castle

城周辺の起伏地図~The relief map around the castle

焼米ヶ原周辺地区~Around Yakigomegahara area

You can drive from the front of Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine up to Shioji-yama mountain through the Shioji forest road. Then, you will reach and park at Yakigomehara parking lot. From the parking, you can walk around several ruins.

・The earthen walls line
This is the southern part of the outline, and was partly built doubly. It could be an important spot for the castle. You can have a good view of the town on the south.

土塁線~The earthen walls line
街並みの景色~A view of the town

・Zochoten foundation stone group
It is one of the groups for ruins of buildings. The foundation stones for four buildings remain along the outline. So far, over 70 ruins of buildings were found on the mountain. Many of them are thought to have been used as warehouses.

増長天礎石群~Zochoten foundation stone group

・Dazaifu route Castle Gate Ruins
They are the largest castle gate ruins out of the nine castle gate ruins previously found in the castle. The excavation team found out that the gate was replaced three times. It might have been the front gate of the castle.

大宰府口城門跡~Dazaifu route Castle Gate Ruins(licensed by 小池隆 via Wikimedia Commons)

北部周辺地区~Around the northern area

You can drive to the center of the mountain, then turn to the right at the intersection in front of Kenminnomori Center, and you will reach Hyakken stone walls. There is a small parking lot beside them.

百閒石垣を見上げる~Looking up Hyakken stone walls
百閒石垣から道路を見下ろす~Looking down the road from Hyakken stone walls

・Hyakken stone walls
They are the largest ones among the castle, which are about 180m across (Hyakken means 100 ken, ken is an old unit of length in Japan, 1 ken is about 1.8m.) and about 8m high. The area around was the northern entrance of the castle, and was considered very important. The stone walls were piled with chopped natural stones on the base rock very carefully. They also have some gaps that can drain water. There are similar stone walls of mountain castle ruins in Korea. That’s because technicians from Korea helped with the construction.

百閒石垣~Hyakken stone walls
石垣に近づきます~Getting closer to the stone walls
石垣までの坂はかなり急です~The slope to the stone walls is steep

その後~Later History

About one century after the foundation of the castle, the Four Devas or Shitennoji Temple was founded on the castle ruins in 774. The temple was for praying against Silla that was said to have cursed Japan. The mountain became a castle for praying. The present name of the mountain comes from the temple. The name of the building ruins “Zochoten” is one of the four Devas. In the Warring States or Sengoku Period, Iwaya Castle was built on the mid-slope of the mountain. In the Edo Period, people made a lot of stone figures of the Buddha and prayed them. The ruins were finally designated as a National Historic Site in 1953.

石仏のうちの一体~One of the stone figures of the Buddha(taken by ヘンリー3世 from photoAC)

私の感想~My Impression

I recommend you to at least see Hyakken stone walls. You can also see it’s surprising that such stone walls have survived for over 1350 years. The stone walls still look very strong when you look at them. I also think that I will spend a day walking around all the ruins sometime.

百閒石垣~Hyakken stone walls

ここに行くには~How to get There

I recommend you to go there by car.
The ruins are around 5 km away from the Dazaifu IC on Kyushu Expressway.

リンク、参考情報~Links and References

大野城跡、大野城市(Onojo City Website)
大野城跡、宇美町(Umi Town Website)
・「マンガ版大野城物語」古代山城サミット実行委員会(Japanese Comic)