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Travel Hachioji Castle

Hachiōji Castle (八王子城 Hachiōji-jō) is a mountain castle constructed by Hōjō Ujiteru (北条 氏照, 1540-1590) in Hachiōji, just north of modern-day JR Takao Station. Ujiteru had held out at nearby Takiyama Castle (滝山城 ) first, but after the castle had fallen to attacks of Takeda Shingen and his son Katsuyori in 1569, he decided to construct a stronger and larger castle in Hachiōji. The precise year of construction is unknown, but it is said that the fortifications were started in the 1570s and that Ujiteru moved there in the 1580s.

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In 1590, during the Siege of Odawara by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the castle was attacked by some 50,000 troops under Maeda Toshiie (前田利家, 1538-1599) and Uesugi Kagekatsu (上杉景勝, 1556-1623) while Ujiteru's was absent defending Odawara Castle. Ujiteru left only 1,300 men behind and Hachiōji Castle fell in just a day.

The name "Hachiōji" (八王子, literally "eight princes") derived from the legend that in 913 a monk from Kyōto named Myōkō (妙行) met the god Gozu Tennō (牛頭天王) accompanied by eight princes while conducting training exercises on the top of the mountain. He then established Hachiōji Gongen Shrine. Later, Ujiteru elevated Gozu Tennō and his eight companions as the guardian deities of Hachiōji Castle.

The main enclosure was located on the mountain top and the adjacent ridge, the residential quarters were situated around the main palace, while the castle town itself comprised the modern-day Negoya district (around current visitor centre). The range extends at least 2 kilometres on the east-west axis and one kilometre north-south.

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The map is based on Digital Japan Portal Web Site powered by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan.

I went to Hachiōji Castle by bus. The bus service from Takao Station bound for the castle only runs on Saturday and Sunday.

① Next, to the bus stop is the Hachiōji Castle Visitor Centre. Here, visitors can obtain brochures and information on the castle. If you go there by car, there is a parking lot right next to the visitor centre.

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First, I walked to the main enclosure.

② This is the Ashida enclosure (あしだ曲輪) near the entrance.

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③ Site of Otemon (大手門)

From here I went up and followed the path looking down the river.

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④ This was a reconstructed bridge. Once the battle started, the bridge was destroyed to prevent the enemy from crossing.

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This was the koguchi (虎口, literally the "mouth of the tiger") of the main enclosure. A considerable number of the original stairs and pavement survived.

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Below the entrance to the main enclosure.

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⑤ The site of the main enclosure nowadays forms a large open space. There were cornerstones where the palace had once stood.

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⑥ The waterfall at the main enclosure - but no water was streaming. When the castle fell, thousands of women, children and defenders committed suicide and the water of the river turned red for three days and nights.

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I returned to the entrance and climbed the mountain. Small enclosures had been constructed along the ridge.

⑦ Below the Kaneko enclosure (金子曲輪), the largest of all enclosures. Assumedly, Kaneko Ieshige (金子家重) defended this position.

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⑧ The site of Sakumon Gate (柵門) at the eighth station. The origin of the name is unclear.

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There were medium-sized enclosures including the main enclosure around the mountaintop.

⑨ This was one of them, Komiya enclosure (小宮曲輪).

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⑩ Below, Matsuki enclosure (松木曲輪). There was a fierce battle between the defenders of the enclosure, Nakayama Ienori (中山吉範), and the attacker Maeda Toshiie.

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⑪ This was the site of the main enclosure (本丸). It was very small and did not allow for extensive defensive structures.

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Usually, visitors would return from the main enclosure, The signboard of Tsume-no-shiro (outer citadel used for defending the main castle) made me walk more.

⑫ This was Koma-biyashi (literally the "rest place for horses"). It was a trench at the halfway point between the main enclosure and Tsume-no-shiro.

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I was walking along this narrow ridge for a while. I felt it was not a path inside the castle but an escape route for the defenders. Actually, hikers can reach Mt. Takao or Mt. Jinba on this route.

⑬ At last, after climbing the slope I reached Tsume-no-shiro (詰城). It took around 30 minutes from the main enclosure. There was a monument indicating the remains of Hachiōji Castle's donjon", but I thought this could not be a suitable location to build a castle tower. Probably there was a turret protecting the rear.

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View of Tokyo from Komiya enclosure.

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Access Information


  • Address: Moto-Hachioji-cho, Hachioji-shi, Tokyo (Map)
  • Transportation: to the visitor centre
    From JR Chuo line or Keio line, Takao station, getting on Nishi Tokyo Bus bound for "Hachioji Castle site" (only on Saturday and Sunday)
    5km from Ken-oh Expwy Hachioji-nishi IC via Prefectural Route 61


Map:


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Hiroto Uehara
Hiroto is an ordinary Japanese office worker, but his true mission is searching for castles on the weekend.

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