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Castle Ryozen Castle

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This article is in the series Walking the Japanese Castles
Mount Ryōzen (霊山 Ryōzen) is located 20km east of Fukushima City. It is 825 metres tall and was the location of Ryōzen Temple, a centre of Buddhist learning in the Heian Period.

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The temple had been established by Ennin (圓仁 or 円仁, 793/4-864), also known by his posthumous name of Jikaku Daishi (慈覺大師), the abbot of Hieizan Enryaku-ji temple, in 859. It prospered as a religious and cultural centre of southern Mutsu Province (modern-day Fukushima and Miyagi). The temple was burned down in the Nanboku-chō Period (1336-1392), the era characterised by the conflict between the Northern and the Southern courts, but was reconstructed by the Date clan in the Muromachi Period.

Kitabatake Akiie (北畠顕家, 1318-1338), a supporter of the Southern court and the governor of Mutsu, fortified the temple and created Ryōzen Castle (霊山城). He moved the provincial government of Mutsu Province from Taga Castle to Ryōzen. Allied with Date Yukitomo, the head of the Date clan, Akiie fought against the forces of Ashikaga Takauji who led the forces of the Northen court and was killed in battle in 1338. In 1347, Ryōzen Castle was conquered by Kira Sadaie of the North dynasty and destroyed.

You could not miss the route to the castle, because it is a famous local sightseeing spot.

From the parking lot at the foot of the mountain, an idyllic mountain path leads up to the castle through thick forest along the brook.

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The path is lined by mysterious boulders.

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Walking along the ridge, I arrived at the site of the former gubernatorial mansion.

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Further up lay the site of the former castle. It had me taken about one hour from the parking lot. While the hilltop provided excellent protection, the habitability was poor.

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There were barely any remains bar several foundation stones.

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Date of visit: 10th August 2013

Access Information:


  • Address: Ryozen-cho, Ishida, Date-shi, Fukushima (Map)
  • Transportation: (To the entrance)
    34km from Tohoku Expwy Fukushima-nishi IC via National Route 115


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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