Gujo Hachiman Castle in Gifu Prefecture
Gujo Hachiman Castle is a mountain castle located on top of Mount Hachiman in Gujo Hachiman, Gifu Prefecture. The original castle was built in 1559 by Endo Morikazu, but torn down during the Meiji Restoration in 1870. The current castle was reconstructed in 1933 and this year celebrates its 80th anniversary. The main keep and castle was modelled on that of nearby Ogaki Castle. The reconstruction was done with wood rather than concrete as seen in most modern day reconstructions. Gujo Hachiman Castle is in fact the oldest reconstructed wooden castle in Japan. The castle offers amazing views of the surrounding mountains and valleys and the view from the top of the castle is breathtaking.
The location of the castle on top of Mount Hachiman was important as it offered protection and security. The rivers surrounding the town formed a natural moat for both the castle and castle town below.
What to see at Gujo Hachiman Castle
The Main Keep
The main keep is very impressive and modelled on that of Ogaki Castle in Gifu Prefecture. The main keep has 4 levels and 5 stories.
The Original Stone Walls
The stone walls date from the Sengoku Period or Warring States Period (1478 – 1605). The style is called Nozura-zumi and dates from the late 16th century.
Inside the Castle
The inside of the castle while not original has been done well and has an old look and feel to it. It contains a museum with lots of information about the castle and its history.
View of the Surrounding Area
The castle provides a lovely view of the castle town below and the surrounding mountains and valleys. The outline of the residential area below resembles a fish.
Kazutoyo and Chiyo Statue
At the park below Mount Hachiman and Gujo Hachiman Castle is a bronze statue of Kazutoyo Yamanouchi and Chiyo. Chiyo (1556 – 1617) was a daughter of the first lord of Gujo domain Endo Morikazu. She married Kazutoyo and was known as the “wise wife”. She used her considerable abilities to further her husband’s career. Kazutoyo was a lower-class samurai who went on to have a brilliant career and become the first lord of Kochi Castle.
History of Gujo Hachiman Castle
The original castle was first built in 1559, when Endo Morikazu, a feudal lord, brought the Gujo district under his control after the battle of Mt. Todo. He built the stone walls and foundations. The castle was incomplete when Morikazu died, leaving it to his son and heir Endo Yoshitaka. Yoshitaka became a retainer to the warlord Oda Nobunaga and went off to war, after which the control of the castle fell into the hands of Inaba Sadamichi. He was responsible for much of the renovation of the original castle. He built up the main castle keep and most of the supporting structures of the castle. Following the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Yoshitaka returned to rule the castle. The Tokugawa Shogunate officially recognised Gujo Hachiman Castle as a castle when the sixth lord Endo Tsunetomo refurbished and expanded it in 1667. Tsunetomo was responsible for fortifying the castle town below. The Gujo-ikki (The Gujo Rebellion), the most notable and historical uprising in the Edo Period occurred here in 1754 under the Kanamori clan. After its conclusion the Aoyama clan was posted here as the lord of the Gujo district. The castle and supporting structures were torn down in 1870 like many others during the Meiji Restoration. The castle was rebuilt out of wood in 1933 and modelled after Ogaki Castle in Gifu Prefecture.
Gujo Hachiman Castle is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
(June to August – 8:00 am to 6:00 pm)
(November to February – 9:00 am to 4:30 pm)
Note: The castle is closed between Dec 20th – Jan 10th
Admission to the castle is 300 yen
How to Get There
The castle is accessible via car or on foot and it is only a short hike of around 15 minutes from the base to the top of Mount Hachiman. Parking is free. By train you can take the Nagaragawa line to Gujo Hachiman Station.
Address: 659 Ichinohira, Yanagi-machi, Hachiman, Gujo City, Gifu Prefecture
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Best Time to Go
The best time to visit Gujo Hachiman is during early to late November when the maple trees surrounding the castle at their peak. The colourful Autumn leaves contrast brilliantly against the white structure of the castle. There is also a night time illumination at this time where the trees and castle are lit from sunset until 9 pm, as well as a Momiji (Autumn Leaves) festival.
Tip: Make sure to check out the town below as Gujo Hachiman is often called “Little Kyoto”.