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Castle Shoryuji Castle

This article is in the series Walking the Japanese Castles
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Shōryūji Castle (勝龍寺城 Shōryūji-jō) is located in Nagaokakyo in the south-west of Kyōto , at the confluence of the Obata and Inugawa Rivers in the southwest of the Kyōto Basin, at the crossroads of the Saigoku Highway (西国街道) and Koganawate (久我畷) connecting the city to the west. The name of the castle derives from the nearby ancient temple of the same name (Shōryū-ji). The castle is regarded as one of the first modern castles with "tiles, stone walls and a tenshukaku" (天守閣, donjon) that preceded Azuchi Castle (安土城).

Shoryuji Castle (勝龍寺城)

The topographical map of the area, as used for Yodo Castle (淀城), is shown below.

Shoryuji Castle (勝龍寺城)

Based on the Aerial Photograph Service of the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan. The location of the enclosures is estimated.


It has been said that the castle was built by Hosokawa Yoriharu (細川頼春) of the Northern Court in 1339 to prepare for the Southern Court's advance into Kyōto during the Nanbokucho period, but there is doubt as to the authenticity of this theory. It is more likely that this is a narrative to emphasize the legitimacy of Hosokawa Fujitaka (細川藤孝), aka Yusai (幽斎) who later became the lord of the castle. Yusai is a descendant of Yoriari (頼有), Yoriharu's second son. The castle was first mentioned in 1457. During the Onin War (応仁の乱, 1467-1477), the castle became the base of the western army of Governor Hatakeyama Yoshinari (畠山義就, 1437-1491) in the Otokuni (乙訓郡) area.

During the Sengoku period, the castle became a stronghold of Oda Nobunaga. In 1571, Hosokawa Fujitaka received the area of Nishioka in Yamashiro and took over Shōryūji Castle. He reinforced it and constructed two moats. Shōryūji Castle, together with Makishima Castle (槇島城), seems to have served as Nobunaga's two main frontline strongholds in the mountains. It is also associated with Hosokawa Tadaoki (細川忠興) and his wife Gracia. In August 1578, Fujitaka's eldest son, Tadaoki, and Akechi Mitsuhide 's daughter, Otama (お玉), later Hosokawa Gracia (細川ガラシャ), were married at Shōryūji and spent their honeymoon there. They were blessed with two children before being transferred to Tango.

Hosokawa Fujitaka entered Tango in 1581 and was replaced by Yabe Iesada (矢部家定) and Inoko Takanari (猪子高就), who acted as assistants to Murai Sadakatsu (村井貞勝, 1528-1582), who controlled Kyōto. The following year, in 1582, Akechi Mitsuhide's troops occupied the castle and made it their base during the Honnoji Incident (本能寺の変). During the skirmishes, Inoko was killed in an attack by Akechi's forces at Nijō Castle. A few days later, Mitsuhide was defeated in the Battle of Yamazaki and returned to Shōryūji Castle, but was pursued by Hashiba Hideyoshi's forces and forced to abandon the castle. He escaped through the north gate and died on the way to his primary stronghold, Sakamoto Castle in Ōmi Province. The next day, Hideyoshi, who had defeated Akechi's army, entered Shōryūji Castle. Yabe participated in the battle on the side of Hashiba. Fujitaka refused Mitsuhide's request for reinforcements, shaved his head, handed over the governorship to Tadaoki, and moved to Tanabe Castle, where he imprisoned Gracia, a relative of the Akechi family.

Later, the castle was not considered very important by the Hashiba (Toyotomi) clan, and the stones were used to rebuild Yodo Castle, so it fell into disrepair. In 1633, Nagai Naokiyo (永井直清) was appointed to the Yamashiro Nagaoka domain (山城長岡藩). He was ordered by the Edo shogunate not to touch the moat, but to build a mansion north of the old castle. It has been suggested that this may have been the first time that Shōryūji Castle was completed as a modern castle, albeit incompletely. However, the castle was completely abandoned when Naokiyo was transferred to the Settsu Takatsuki domain (摂津高槻藩) in 1649.

The castle complex:

The Honmaru (本丸) and Numata Maru (沼田丸) were reconstructed as Shōryūji Castle Park in 1992 with a replica turret. A part of the original stone wall remains at the north gate. An earthen mound and an empty moat have been reconstructed in the precincts of Kōtari Shrine (神足神社), located northeast of the castle. To the northeast, near the shrine, there are traces of an earthen mound and an empty moat that were built to protect the northern part of the castle.

The Nagaokakyo Gracia Festival is held every year on the second Sunday in November and includes a historical parade. In the exhibition room (renovated in 2019), there are panel displays and videos focusing on four people associated with Shōryūji Castle, including Hosokawa Fujitaka, Tadaoki, Gracia and Akechi Mitsuhide, as well as tiles, a stone wall and a pagoda.

The following is a reconstructed plan from the local information board.

Shoryuji Castle (勝龍寺城)


From the local information board.

The ruins of the castle are now maintained as Shōryūji Castle Park and can be reached on foot from JR Nagaokakyo Station (長岡京駅).

When you walk from Nagaokakyo Station through a residential area, you will suddenly find a magnificent building. It is a reconstructed turret-style building in the park.

Shoryuji Castle (勝龍寺城)

However, it was also closed for the year-end holidays. On this expedition to Kyōto, there are few castles that we could visit properly.

Shoryuji Castle (勝龍寺城)

The moat and walls around the main circle have also been restored. The main circle is 105 metres long from east to west and 70 metres from north to south. According to the excavations, the moat was 3 metres deep and over 15 metres wide, with a stone wall built at the foot of the earthwork.

Shoryuji Castle (勝龍寺城)

The west side of the main circle has earthworks like this.

Shoryuji Castle (勝龍寺城)

Numata Maru, on the west side of the main circle, is an ordinary park.

Shoryuji Castle (勝龍寺城)

In a corner of the former Numata Maru, a well-named "Gracia Omokage no Mizu" (ガラシャおもかげの水, Water of Gracia Omokage) is pumped up and can be used as drinking water.

Shoryuji Castle (勝龍寺城)

Date of visit: 30 December 2013


  • Address: 13-1 Shōryūji, Nagaokakyo, Kyoto 617-0836
  • Access: 10 minutes walk from Nagaokakyo Station on the JR Tokaido Line
    2 km from Oyamazaki Interchange on Meishin Expressway via Prefectural Route 211
  • Parking: Shōryūji Castle Park Parking
Next article in the series 'Walking the Japanese Castles': Yamazaki Castle
Previous article in the series 'Walking the Japanese Castles': Yodo 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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Hiroto Uehara
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4 min read
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〒617-0836 京都府長岡京市勝竜寺13−1

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