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Castle Obata Castle (Ibaraki)

This article is in the series Walking the Japanese Castles
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Obata Castle (小幡城 Obatajō) is a flatland castle (平城 hirajiro) built in Ibaraki Town, south of Mito.

Although it is not well known to the general public, it is highly rated by castle enthusiasts who have visited it because of the excellent condition of the remains and its unique and complex layout. I also enjoyed the castle ruins during my recent visit. They are like a gigantic maze created by deep dry moats and irregularly shaped kuruwa.

Obata Castle (小幡城)

There are two theories regarding the construction of the castle: one is that Daijō Yoshimoto (大掾義幹) built it around 1420, and the other is that Oda Mitsushige (小田光重) established it around 1220.

During the Bunmei era (1469-86), it came under the influence of the Edo clan (江戸氏) of Mito. It is thought that the current 12-hectare castle area was developed in the 1570s and played an essential role as a base for attacking the Daijō clan at Fuchū Castle (府中城). A letter from 1585 lists the names of Ōtsuka Yasaburō (大塚弥三郎) and Obata Magojirō (小幡孫二郎) as commanders of Obata Castle, indicating that landlords in the Hinuma (涸沼) area were mobilized on duty.

In 1590, Satake Yoshinobu (佐竹義宣) of Ōta Castle (太田城), backed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, defeated both the Edo and Daijō clans and Obata Castle fell. After that, Obata was controlled by Yoshinobu's vassal, Wada Akitame (和田昭為), until the Satake clan was transferred to Akita in 1602. The castle is believed to have been abandoned by then.

The topography is as follows: various large and small enclosures surround the Honmaru, and earthworks connect each enclosure. The Higashi-Kantō Expressway runs through Shichi no Kuruwa, but the rest of the enclosure is almost perfectly preserved.

Obata Castle (小幡城)

The surrounding terrain is located at the tip of a tongue-shaped plateau surrounded by rivers on the north, east, and south sides—the relative height of the plateau reaches about 10 metres.

Obata Castle (小幡城)

Aerial photographs taken from Geographical Survey Institute maps. The location of the enclosures is estimated.​


It is quite difficult to find the site because there are no signs along the street. You better set your car navigation system when you visit there by car. One of the landmarks is the Higashi-Kantō Expressway, which runs on the west side of the castle ruins.

The photo below was taken near the entrance to the castle site. It is quite inconspicuous, so it is easy to be missed.

Obata Castle (小幡城)

There is a parking space at the castle entrance.

Obata Castle (小幡城)

The dry moat is about 10 metres deep and doubles as a passageway. I took a picture of my family to get a real sense of this depth.

Obata Castle (小幡城)

There are branches and cranks along the way, and you will gradually lose your sense of direction. If there is no signage, you will get lost.

Obata Castle (小幡城)

This is the view from the wall's top to the moat's bottom.

Obata Castle (小幡城)

Ruins of a turret in one corner of Go-no-kuru (五の郭), the fifth enclosure.

Obata Castle (小幡城)

An earthen bridge connects the 4th and 5th enclosures.

Obata Castle (小幡城)

Then we arrived at the Honmaru. It is pretty spacious.

Obata Castle (小幡城)

Earthworks like this surround the Honmaru.

Obata Castle (小幡城)

Pictures cannot convey the feeling of being in a maze created by a clever labyrinth of deep dry moats, so please visit and experience it yourself.


Date of visit: 19 April 2014


Access:

  • Address: Obata, Ibaraki, Higashiibaraki District, Ibaraki 311-3157
  • Access: 11 kilometres from Jōban Expressway Iwama Interchange via Prefectural Route 43
  • Parking: Parking lot at the entrance of the castle ruins (free: see point 'P' on the map above)

Link:

  • 小幡城跡 (Ibaraki-machi Tourism Association, in Japanese)
Next article in the series 'Walking the Japanese Castles': Mito Castle
Previous article in the series 'Walking the Japanese Castles': Ōtaki 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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Author
Hiroto Uehara
Article read time
3 min read
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Location
〒311-3157 茨城県東茨城郡茨城町小幡

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