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Castle Sanada Honjo

This article is in the series Walking the Japanese Castles
Sanada Town in Nagano Prefecture is home to several hilltop castles. Among those, Sanada Honjō (真田本城, the "Sanada main castle") boasted the largest and most complex fortifications. Though there is no compelling evidence, some historians believe that it served as the headquarter of the Sanada clan before Ueda Castle was constructed. It is also known as Matsuo Castle (松尾城 Matsuo-jō). It was constructed in the Tenmon (天文) era (1532-1555) by Sanada Yukitsuna (真田幸綱, 1513-1574), a vassal of the Takeda clan, though excavations revealed an older castle structure dating back to the Kamakura Period. Matsuo Castle was abandoned in 1585.



The map was based on GSI Map powered by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan.

The inner bailey (本丸 honmaru), as well as the second (二の丸 ni-no-maru) and the third enclosures (三の丸 san-no-maru), were all lined along the ridgeline from south to north; this style is called "renkaku" (連郭式 renkaku-shiki or "consecutive style").


The honmaru measured nine metres on the east-west axis and 37 metres north-south. The southern side features two-metre-high earthworks.


The ni-no-maru and the san-no-maru are located on the northern side of the honmaru. Further north lies a step cliff.


Date of visit: 12 October 2013


  • Address: Sanada-machi, Osa, Ueda-shi, Nagano
  • Transport: 8km from Joshinetsu Expressway Ueda-Sugadaira Interchange via National Route 144
  • Parking: there is a free parking lot in front of the castle site.
  • Other sights: Ueda Castle, Sanada Residence
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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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