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Castle Kiyoshiki Castle

This article is in the series Walking the Japanese Castles
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Kiyoshiki Castle (清色城 Kiyoshiki-jō) is a former hilltop castle located in Irikicho, Satsumasendai, Kagoshima Prefecture.


It is not clear when Kiyoshiki Castle was constructed. It is assumed that it was built sometime after the Shibuya clan moved from Sagami to Satsuma, following the Battle of Hōji in 1247. One record mentions the Eiwa Period (永和, 1375-1379), during the conflict between the Northern and the Southern court.

The perimeter of Kiyoshiki Castle measures about 650 metres north to south and about 840 metres east to west, which corresponds to a medium-sized medieval mountain castle in this area. By skillfully utilizing the natural topography of the Shirasu plateau, which is a soil peculiar to southern Kyūshū, an artificially modified empty moat is created, and each Kuruwa has an independent structure. Hiwaki River, which flows through the east, south, and north, forms a natural moat. Currently, there are six known names of Kuruwa: Honmaru, Nishinojo, Matsuo Castle, Nakanojo, Gumonji Castle, and Minodan.

Topographic map:

Kiyoshiki Castle Topography.jpg

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

Territorial map:


From the local guide board.

To reach the Iriki district where the castle ruins are located, proceed about 30 km north on Route 328 from Kagoshima city. The parking lot is located opposite the Satsumasendai City Hall Iriki Branch. From the parking lot, go west and go north of the elementary school to the castle ruins entrance. When I first visited this castle in October 2013, the inside of the castle ruins was off-limits, probably because of a landslide. I visited again this time for the first time in six years.

Okariya Baba (お仮屋馬場)

There is a water moat in front of the ruins of the building, and in front of it, the passage is called Okariya Baba.


② Residence ruins (館)

The hill in front of Kiyoiro Castle, which is now the site of Iriki Elementary School (入来小学校), is the site of the museum.


③ Earthworks

These tall earthworks on the way to the entrance of the castle ruins are also part of the former castle.


④ Ōhorikiri (大堀切)

At the entrance of the castle, there is a large horikiri with a narrow frontage due to the height difference. Last time I only looked at it from a distance, but this time I was able to pass it safely. Horikiri are dry moats dug to separate and hinder passage between two peaks connected by a ridge. Many examples can be seen in the vicinity of medieval mountain castles. (JAANUS).


After passing through Horikiri, there is a branch of the moat. Unfortunately, the road to Nishino-jō (西之城) is closed.


I went around the Kuruwa group in order from Matsuo Castle (松尾城 Matsuojō) on the north side.

⑤ Matsuo Castle (松尾城)

It is a Kuruwa located at the northern end of the castle. "Matsuo Castle" is a common name for Kuruwa in this castle in South Kyushu, and probably means the Kuruwa located at the end of the ridge.


⑥ Honmaru (本丸}

It is a Kuruwa on the south side of Ōhorikiri.

The kirigishi (切岸) to the main enclosure. Kirigishi are man-made, precipitous banks or steep bluffs excavated when constructing a road through mountainous terrain to facilitate passage to and from a castle or fortification and the town or city nearby (JAANUS).


Inside the honmaru.


⑦ Nakano Castle (中之城 Nakano-jō)

Judging by its name, it can be presumed that Nakano Castle, along with the honmaru, played a central role within the castle structure.

Inside Nakano Castle


The slope from Nakano Castle to Gumonji Castle (求聞持城 Gumonji-jō) is quite steep.

Kuruwa in the lower part of Nakano Castle

There is a large kuruwa located in the middle of the plateau, but it does not seem to have any particular name.


⑧ Gumonji Castle (求聞持城)


View from Gumonji Castle


The path from Gumonji Castle to Monominodan (物見之段) runs down a steep slope.


⑨ Monominodan (物見之段)

A kuruwa located at the eastern end of the castle.


After going down the Monominodan, I returned to Iriki Elementary School.


Irikifumoto (入来麓)

Around the castle, there are several samurai mansions. They samurai town is a little different from the samurai residences (武家屋敷街) in Chiran (知覧): they have stone walls made of cobbles.



Date of visit: 20 October 2013, 11 January 2020


  • Address: 161-2 Irikicho Uranomyo, Satsumasendai, Kagoshima 895-1402
  • Access: 28 kilometres from Kyushu Expressway Kagoshima-kita Interchange via National Route 328
  • Parking: Iriki Town Parking (free)
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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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