Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sugiyama castle -Masterpiece of tactical level castle-

Sugiyama Castle

-Masterpiece of tactical level castle-



Name: Sugiyama Castle (Sugiyama-jo)
Place: Sugiyama Ranzan town, Saitama
Type: Hill Castle
Built: Middle of 15th century
Remaining remnants: Clay walls and moats
Title: 100 more famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Sugiyama castle (杉山城) in located on a hill in Ranzan town, at the center of Saitama prefecture. Castle site is at the border of Kanto plain and Chichibu mountain, and also at the middle of connecting route between Hachigata castle (Yorii town), a major castle at the northwestern part of Saitama prefecture, and Musashi-Matsuyama castle  which was another major castle at the middle of prefecture along with Ichino-gawa river. 

Information on this Sugiyama Castle is quite limited and precise date of building and holder is unknown, but the purpose of Sugiyama castle is undoubtedly the watch and guard of this connecting line, and might be a stockyard of materials transported by the road. Sugiyama castle is not so large one but has an excellent planning then regarded as a masterpiece of tactical level castle.

Masterpiece of medieval castle

The shape of this castle is decided under united and technical planning. Central area is located on the top of the long and narrow hill, and area of the castle spread to both ridge. At the both edge of ridge there exist turret bases utilizing height difference, that enabled attack enemies from higher place.  

Each area is separated by dry moat and clay wall from outer area, and winding line of each area erased dead angle for enemies. Projection areas are built at the side of important gate to make side attack to enemies trying to enter the gate, and major gates had folding path to prevent direct attack of enemy. 

To reach the central area enemy soldiers had to go along long and folding ways, exposed to continuous attack of guardians from upper areas.  This castle is suitable to defend attack of several hundreds of soldiers, but due to its size limitation it might be tough to resist against much larger army.

Argument on builder of Sugiyama castle

Precise date of construction and builder is unknown, and there is an argument which of Hojo clan or Uesugi clan (Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan or Yamanouchi Uesugi clan) built this castle. Because of excellent planning of this castle formerly it was thought to be built by Hojo clan, a warlord of Sagami province (Kanagawa prefecture) which built many excellent castles in Kanto region. But based on recent study and investigation this castle is thought rather to be built by other powers. 

Hojo clan usually built simple but huge defense facilities by intensive engineering works, and technical but small size installations of this castle is different from Hojo castles. Probably Sugiyama castle might be built by Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan or Yamanouchi Uesugi clan, which conflicted for this area in late 15th century or early 16th century, before the rise of Hojo clan.

After the rise of Hojo clan in the middle of 16th century, this castle might have ceased its operation. Existence of the castle had been forgotten long time, but recently excellent shape of this castle was reevaluated and this castle became popular. In 2008, Sugiyama castle was nominated as a national designated historical site, along with other neighbor castles such as Sugaya castle, Ogura castle or Musashi Matsuyama castle.


30 minutes walk from Tobu-Tojosen line Musashi-Ranzan station. 10 minutes drive from Kanetsu-Jidoshado Expressway Ranzan-Ogawa interchange.

Related Castles

Musashi Matsuyama Castle -Gathering point of three powerful warlords-
Ogura Castle -Mountain castle with brick wall at beautiful valley-
Sugaya Castle -Well-built clay castle without clear holder-


Pictures (click to enlarge)

No comments:

Post a Comment