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Castle Kamo Castle

This article is in the series Walking the Japanese Castles
Kamo Castle (蒲生城 Kamou-jō) is a mountain castle located in Kamou Town, Aira City, about 7 kilometres northwest of the innermost part of Kinko Bay. It is located on Mt. Ryuga (龍ヶ山 Ryūgayama, lit. "Dragon Mountain"), which overhangs to the north, across the river of the city.

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It is a typical Kagoshima castle that skillfully utilizes the natural topography of the shirasu-daichi (シラス台地, pyroclastic plateau) as dry moats, but also has classical characteristics of Sengoku-era castles with fortified enclosures along the ridgelines.

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Based on a map of the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan. The location of the enclosures is estimated.

In 1223, Fujiwara Chikakiyo (藤原舜清), the grandson of Konoe Motomichi (近衛基通, 1160-1233), was assigned as the governor of Kamo County, taking over Kamo and Yoshida as his residence. The castle was also called Ryūga Castle (竜ヶ城) as its shape resembled a lying dragon. In 1557, during the 17th Kamo lord's reign, Shimazu Takahisa attacked the castle; the defenders then set it on fire and abandoned it.

There is a parking lot close to the second enclosure. However, the castle is within a reasonable walking distance from Kamo City.

This reconstructed gate is close to the parking lot and the second enclosure (二の丸 ninomaru).

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Ninomaru

The small wooden watchtower was in an abysmal state. Unfortunately, the branches of the surrounding trees obstructed the view.

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A trench between the ninomaru and the honmaru (inner bailey).

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② Well (水ノ手)

It might look different from the olden days, but the small well still exists.

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Horse-riding ground (馬場跡)

The horse-riding grounds were located close to the honmaru.

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Honmaru (本丸, inner bailey)

The honmaru consisted of several enclosures arranged in terraces.

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As there was no walking path to the enclosure, I had to find my own way. The photo below shows the location of what seemed to be the entrance to the honmaru.

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I edged closer to the honmaru but still couldn't locate it.

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I discovered some of the original earthworks.

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The cliff below the honmaru holds another attraction, the Ryūgajō Magai One-Thousand Sanskrit Buddha (竜ヶ城磨崖一千梵字仏蹟) where countless engravings of Sanskrit characters and Fudō Myōō cover the cliff over a distance of some 120 metres. Those engravings are estimated to date back to the middle of the Kamakura period. The famous historical writer Shiba Ryōtarō (司馬 遼太郎, 7 August 1923- 12 February 1996) visited and wrote about the Sanskrit symbols. However, the steep and narrow route descending from the honmaru is quite hazardous, therefore please climb from below the cliff.

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Date of visit: 20 October 2013

Access:

  • Address: Kamoucho Shimogyutoku, Aira, Kagoshima 899-5304
  • Access: 7km from Kyushu Expressway Aira Interchange via Prefectural Route 25
  • Parking: free parking in the site (spot 'P' pointed on the map above)
Next article in series Miyakono Castle
Previous article in series Kiyoshiki Castle
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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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Pros: Nice pictures and elevation map
I really enjoyed the details and pics

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