Chigasaki Castle was a Sengoku-era fortress located in the present-day Chigasaki Castle Ruins Park (茅ヶ崎城址公園 Chigasaki jōshikōen) in Tsuzuki-ku, Yokohama. Apart from the stone foundations of several buildings, very few remnants survived the centuries. Still, the outline of the former castle along with its kuruwa (郭, enclosures or baileys), dry moats (空堀 karabori), and dorui (土塁, earthen embankments) is well-preserved. The castle was designated a "Historic Site of the City of Yokohama" in 2009.


The main entrance to Chigasaki Castle Ruins Park on the northern side of the former castle grounds.

The castle grounds extended to the length of some 350 metres from east to west and 220 metres from north to south. Its altitude ranges from 28 to 35 metres, with the southwestern corner of the Nakakuruwa even reaching 40 metres in height.


A schematic outline of the park.

History

The date of construction and the identity of the builder remain unclear. Apparently, in the Jian era (治安, 1021-1024) a certain Tada Yukitsuna (多田行綱) erected a fortification on a hill overlooking Hayabuchi River, the same spot where Chigasaki Castle would built later. Between 1990 and 2008 seven excavations were conducted on and around the hill which led to the conclusion that the castle was constructed around the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century. In the mid-16th century, the castle's fortifications were expanded and consisted of double embankments piled up along the dry moats, a unique design in that period.

It is likely that Chigasaki castle was constructed by the Late Hōjō who ruled the provinces of Sagami and southern Musashi at that time. The artefacts excavated at the castle though were mostly attributed to the Ogigayatsu-Uesugi, originally allies of Hōjō who would later become their archrivals in the strife to control the Kantō region. The unglazed "uzumaki kawarake" (ウズマキかわらけ) pottery with its typical spiral crests was used by the Ogigayatsu on formal occasions.


Kitakuruwa, the northern compound (北郭) close to the main entrance to the castle park.

According to the Odawara shūshoryōyakuchō (小田原衆所領役帳), a cadastral map of territories pertaining to Odawara, the Chigasaki area was controlled by the Zama clan (座間氏), vassals of the Kozuke (小机衆) who controlled the territories between the Tama and the Tsurumi rivers. That would have made Chigasaki Castle an auxiliary fortress of Kozuke Castle. After the Fall of Odawara in 1590, Chigasaki Castle was abandoned. In the Edo period (1600-1868), the castle grounds were turned into communal land, but the land was still referred to as Jōyama (城山).



One of the many detailed guide boards (they are all in Japanese).


The northern enclosure.


The location of the well (井戸 ido). Ido refers to wells supplying potable water.

The well was located in the northern section of the castle. With a diameter of four metres on top and five metres at the bottom, it provided a sufficient amount of fresh water. It was estimated that the reservoir could fill one-thousand 20-litre tanks.


Earthen embankments of the northern enclosure (北郭土塁 Kitakuruwa dorui).

Doi (土居) or dorui (土塁) are earthen ramparts or earthworks that are defensive structures surrounding castles. They are made of earth and soil excavated when digging up moats. Dorui are often integrated with other defensive structures, such as palisades, stone walls, and enclosures (郭 kuruwa).


View of the Nakakuruwa (中郭), the central enclosure.

Kuruwa (郭 or 曲輪) are levelled-off areas of a castle that are surrounded by embankments and form enclosures. In later castles, they were called maru (丸, circle).


Dorui (土塁) are straight earthen embankments. They are located just south of the Nakakuruwa.




There are remains of several warehouses located on the southeastern corner of the Nakakuruwa.


Nakakuruwa dobashi (中郭土橋); dobashi are earthen bridges, here located in the central enclosure.

Dobashi (土橋) are earthen bridges and technically sections of the moat that were left unexcavated to allow troops to cross over, usually in front of the main gates. Dobashi allowed the defenders to launch surprise attacks on enemies and prevented besieging forces to move along the bottom of the dry moats (空堀 karabori).


The location of the negoya (根小屋), the living quarters of the lord and his chief retainers.


This guide board shows a schematic outline of the former kuruwa, or enclosure: 西郭 (western enclosure), 中郭 (central enclosure), 北郭 (northern enclosure), 東北郭 (northeastern enclosure), 東郭 (eastern enclosure), and 腰郭 (mid-point or halfway enclosure).


Pottery (土器 doki) excavated at the site.

The pottery excavated at Chigasaki Castle was produced in Japan and China and was traced back to the Ogigayatsu-Uesugi clan.


Koshikuruwa (腰郭), on the eastern side of the enclosure.


Higashikuruwa (東郭), the eastern enclosure.


The view to the north, towards Center Minami and Center Kita.


Some of the karabori (空堀), or dry moats, are still well-preserved.

Karabori were dry moats filled with earth and stones that hindered the approach of attacking forces. They were used extensively in medieval castles, in particular yamajiro (山城, mountain castles), while hirajiro (平城, flatland castles) often had moats filled with water (水堀 mizubori).

Access:

  • Address: 2-25 Chigasakihigashi, Tsuzuki Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa 224-0033
  • Transport: a 5-minute walk from Center Minami Station (Yokohama Green Line and Blue Line)
  • Parking: no dedicated parking lot, but space for one vehicle in front of the main entrance


Links:


Map: