Get off the #10 bus (Ogi-sen) at "Hamochi Koko Mae" bus stop. Go east on the road in front of the high school. When you get to the east edge of the school, turn left to the north. There is a gas station of Agricultural Association "JA". Go into the narrow road on right hand side of the gas station as shown in Photo.53.1. You will find a white board on the right hand side as shown in Photo.53.2. Upslope concrete paved trail starts there, Juohdo. Walking is the only way and it takes ten minutes to the top of the castle site. Note that this website has not confirmed the accuracy of maps on the board as shown in photo.53.3. Avoid going outside of the red-line marked area for your safety.
Photo.53.1 JA Gas Station on the way to Castle Site
Photo.53.2 Trail Entrance by the Juuoudo
Photo.53.3 Trail Guide (Not Confirmed if This Map is Reliable or Not)
As were many other part of Japan, a lot of castles were built in Sado in Medieval period. Some castle sites still remain with their moans and mounds, but most of them have lost their shapes. It is estimated that the number of those castles in medieval period is about 170. The number comes from place names that have the letter of "castle"1). Many are in the area of Kuninaka plain or on the tablelands surrounding Kuninaka plain. On the other, there were less castle sites in coastal area and mountainous area2).
At the beginning of Kamakura Era (1185-1333), Sado was not strongly controlled by then Samurai government "Kamakura Bakufu". But after Jokyu Incident in 1221, Sado was put under strong control of Kamakura Bakufu3). Strong men’s families like Homma, Shibuya, Aihara, and Tsuchiya came from Sagami of the Kanto Plain to Sado in order to rule the island4). Those families built their manor houses in their ruling areas. But locations of them are not known well because the sites had lost their shapes5) . In Muromachi Era (14th -16thc ), numbers of Castles and Manor houses rapidly increased. Some of those castles still keep their shapes 6).
After Muromachi Era was Japan in period of Civil War until Tokugawa's Edo Era started. During the civil war era, Uesugi Kagekatsu (1555-1623), a warlord of Echigo on the mainland, attacked and conquered Sado in 1589. Most of the castles in Sado went to ruin after that7). Under the control of Uesugi, his retainers came to Sado and stationed at several castles. Those castles were called "Ban-Jo". They are Ogi, Hamochi, Sawata, Sawane, Kawaharada, Niibo, Minato castles. These castles sites still remain8).
Photo.53.4 View from the top of Hamochi Castle Site
Hamochi castle site is designated as historical site of Niigata prefecture. The shapes of the castle maintain that of the Civil War Era of Japan. It is also the biggest castle site in Sado, which includes mountain and flat areas in its terrain9). Civil war in Sado started in 1524. Through the fighting among clans, two clans had emerged as strong powers; one was Kawaharada-Homma, the other was Hamochi-Homma. Conflicts between the two didn't seem to end. A warlord on the mainland, Uesugi Kagekatsu, had tried mediating the two, but his efforts failed10). Kagekatsu met the strongest warlord at the time of Japan, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536?7?-1598) in Osaka. He got permission to conquer Sado from Hideyoshi by the command dated June 23, 158611).
Kagekatsu with his massive armed forces landed on Sawane on June 12, 1589. He attacked Kawaharada Castle first, and then Hamochi Castle. On June 16, he had conquered Sado Island12). The lord of Hamochi castle, Homma Takasada, got out of the island with his younger brother Homma Takayori who was the lord of Akadomari castle. But they were captured, sent back to Sado and executed at the riverside of Kokuu River. Hamochi Homma family with history of four hundred years on Sado was perished13).
Uesugi Kagekatsu was one of major followers of Toyotomi Hideyoshi who was infamous for invasion against Korea in 1592 and 1596. As part of Hideyoshi’s forces, Kagekatsu went to the aggressive war on Korea in 1592. Kagekatsu landed on Pusan-po on June 17, 1592. He stationed at a castle "Ungcheon Waeseong14)" which was at 30 kilometer (20 mile) west of Busan. He repaired the castle and stayed that winter on Korean land. After the completion of the castle, Kagekatsu came back to Japan on September 8, 159315).