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Castle Nirayama Castle

This article is in the series Walking the Japanese Castles
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Nirayama Castle (韮山城 Nirayama-jō) is located in the northern neck of Izu Peninsula, in present-day Izunokuni. In 1493, Hōjō Sōun who had risen to power in Kokokuji Castle defeated Horikoshi-kubō Ashikaga Chachamaru who had ruled Izu and put the entire peninsula under his control. He rebuilt Nirayama Castle and moved there from Kokokuji Castle, setting it up as his new headquarters. Later, Soun captured Odawara Castle and extended his rule over the provinces of Sagami and Musashi. However, he maintained Nirayama Castle as his power base until his death.

When Sōun's son Ujitsuna transferred his base to Odawara Castle, Nirayama Castle remained an important strategic location for the Hōjō. Ujinori, the son of the third head of the clan Ujiyasu, became the lord of the castle around 1560. During the Siege of Odawara in 1590, Ujinori stayed in Nirayama with several thousand of his retainers and resisted an army of 40,000 for three months, surrendering only after Odawara had fallen.

Later, one of Tokugawa Ieyasu's retainers, Naito Nobunari, held the castle until his transfer to Sunpu Castle in Shizuoka in 1601 when Nirayama Castle was finally abandoned.

I went there by car and used the free parking lot in front of Egawa's Mansion, another important cultural property. I could spot the castle from the pond at the foot of the hill.

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The old map showed that the enclosures lined up with the hill in front of the pond.

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The main gate of the castle, with the passage turning to the right.

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Gongen enclosure surrounded by earthworks.

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The second enclosure was located on a slight elevation.

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The path to the main enclosure, flanked by steep cliffs.

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I arrived at the main enclosure which was not as wide as I had imagined.

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View from the main enclosure. One fine days Mt. Fuji is visible in the distance.

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The narrow enclosure that led from the main enclosure to the south.

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Southeast of Nirayama, there were four forts, Dotewada, Wadashima, Amagatake and Egawa which had been constructed to support the castle.

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The map is based on Google Earth. The location of enclosures or other structures is estimated.

Other sights in Nirayama

In addition to the castle and Egawa's Mansion, Nirayama has another famous site: the Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace (韮山反射炉). The Tokugawa shogunate ordered Egawa Hidetatsu to build a furnace to produce cannons; it was completed in 1857. As the furnace contributed to Japan's Industrial Revolution, it was registered as a World Heritage site in 2015.

Access:

  • Address: Nirayama, Izunokuni-shi, Shizuoka
  • Transportation: 15 minutes from Izu-Hakone Railways Sunzu line Nirayama station on foot
    16km from Tomei Expressway Numazu Interchange via National Route 136
  • Other sights: Egawa's mansion; Nirayama reverberatory furnace
Next article in the series 'Walking the Japanese Castles': Hachigata Castle
Previous article in the series 'Walking the Japanese Castles': Nagahama Castle (Izu)
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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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Iwatsuki Castle Shakujii Castle Oda Castle Tsuchiura Castle Miharu Castle Inohana Castle Setagaya Castle Konodai Castle Usui Castle Sakura Castle Kozukue Castle Masugata Castle Koga Castle Tenjinyama Castle Ogura Castle Sugaya Castle Sugiyama Castle Kogane Castle Kokokuji Castle Nagahama Castle (Izu) Nirayama Castle Hachigata Castle Futagamiyama Castle Edo Castle Kawahara Castle Kageishi Castle Wakasa-Onigajo Castle Tenjinyama Castle (Tottori) Tsuzurao Castle Ueshi Castle Jindaiji Castle Kururi Castle Mariyatsu Castle Narukami Castle Ryozen Castle Kori-Nishiyama Castle Tsutsujigasaki Residence Yogai Castle Kofu Castle Iwadono Castle Hachioji Castle Takiyama Castle Suemori Castle Nagoya Castle Inuyama Castle Kiyosu Castle Tatebayashi Castle Sano Castle Karasawayama Castle Ueda Castle Sanada Residence Sanada Honjo Toishi Castle Katsurao Castle Uchiyama Castle Hiraga Clan Castle Taguchi Castle Tatsuoka Castle Komoro Castle Matsushiro Castle Kajiki Castle Kakuto Castle Hitoyoshi Castle Ichiuji Castle Izaku Castle Chiran Castle Kiyoshiki Castle Kamo Castle Miyakono Castle Obi Castle Shibushi Castle Koyama Castle Mukasa Castle Sadowara Castle Tonokoori Castle Taka Castle Nerima Castle Kawagoe Castle Ashikaga Residence Koizumi Castle Kanayama Castle Shinagawa Battery (Odaiba) Tamba Kameyama Castle Yagi Castle Sonobe Castle Fushimi Castle Yodo Castle Shoryuji Castle Yamazaki Castle Tsukui Castle Katakura Castle Hirayama Castle Site Park Yamanaka Castle Sanuki Castle Sunpu Castle Koyama Castle (Shizuoka) Ryugenzan Castle Sagara Castle Tanaka Castle (Shizuoka) Ishiwaki Castle Hanazawa Castle Mochifune Castle Moriyama Castle (Aichi) Obata Castle (Aichi) Ryusenji Castle Gakuden Castle Komakiyama Castle Iwakura Castle (Aichi) Kano Castle Gifu Castle Kitagata Castle Sone Castle Ōgaki Castle Ōtaki Castle Obata Castle (Ibaraki) Mito Castle Kasama Castle Tanagura Castle Akadate Castle Inawashiro Castle Aizu-Wakamatsu Castle Mukai-Haguroyama Castle

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Hiroto Uehara
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