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Castle Uchiyama Castle

This article is in the series Walking the Japanese Castles
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Uchiyama Castle (内山城 Uchiyama-jō) is located in the mountains east of Saku City, Nagano Prefecture. The castle was most likely constructed in the early 16th century by the local Ōi (大井) clan who ruled the Saku district.


When Takeda Shingen (武田信玄, 1521-1573) invaded the Saku district in 1546, Ōi Sadakiyo (大井貞清, d. 1575) eventually surrendered after his resistance against Shingen's troops proved futile. He retired to Nozawa and became a Takeda vassal. Later, Uehara Masatatsu (上原伊賀守) became the lord of the castle. In 1548, Murakami Yoshikiyo (村上義清, 1501–1573), a retainer of Shingen's archenemy Uesugi Kenshin, attacked Saku but was repelled by Shingen who rushed in from Suwa and relieved the district of Kenshin's army. After the Takeda's downfall (1582), Tokugawa Ieyasu invaded Shinano (modern-day Nagano Prefecture). Uchiyama Castle was captured by his vassal Yoda Nobushige (依田信蕃, 1548-1583) and later abandoned.

The castle comprises an inner bailey (本丸 honmaru), a second bailey (二の丸 ninomaru), and a third bailey (三の丸 sannomaru) as well as several other structures on a plateau surrounded by 80-metre tall cliffs.


The map is based on GSI Map powered by Japan's Geospatial Information Authority.

① I started at Onjō-ji Temple (園城寺) and parked my car at the parking lot provided for visitors of the temple.


According to local signboards, I advanced from the parking lot towards the eastern side of Onjō-ji. The path is a bit confusing, and visitors heading for the castle should soon turn left instead of going straight, to reach the entrance of the former castle grounds.


A few minutes into the ascent, we can find a stepped topography, probably the former enclosures' location.


This was the midpoint: there were markings, but the path was quite slippery.


② It took about 20 minutes to reach the honmaru from the parking lot. As we departed early in the morning, we could spot Mt. Asama clearly in the distance.


Descending from the inner bailey, we soon reached the second and the third enclosures.


There is another enclosure on the west side of the inner bailey. Further beyond, there is a cliff.


Date of visit: 13 October 2013


  • Address: Uchiyama, Saku, Nagano 385-0031
  • Transport: 10 kilometres from the Saku-Minami Interchange on the Chūbu-Ōdan Expressway (中部横断自動車道) via National Route 254.
  • Parking: Enjo-ji Temple Parking (Spot 'P' pointed on the above map)
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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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内山城跡 長野県佐久市内山

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