Sugiyama-jo Castle (杉山城)

Sugiyama-jo Castle was located in Ranzan-machi, Hiki-gun, Saitama Prefecture. It is also called Hatsukari-jo Castle.


The castle was constructed on top of a mountain above the bank of Ichino-kawa River. The original owner of the castle is unknown. It is widely believed that the castle was built by Mondo KANEKO (金子主水), from a gozoku (local ruling family,) but there are no supporting historical documents to confirm this. In the past, the prevailing view was that the castle was built in the era of the Gohojo clan based on the evidence of the castle's nawabari (castle plan; general term for the layout of a castle and its component structures), but according to archaeological findings from excavation research the likelihood that the castle was built in the era of the Yamauchi Uesugi family has become much stronger.

Differences in opinion between proponents of the nawabari-based theory and the archaelogy-based theory are referred to as the 'Sugiyama-jo Castle issue.'

Ancient structural remnants and excavated relics

Ancient structural remnants that have been discovered include the dorui (earthen walls), kuruwa (walls of a castle) and well ruins, among others.

Excavated relics include kawarake (medieval earthen cups) and Koseto style artefacts.

Designated historical sites

On March 28, 2008, in addition to Sugaya-yakata Castle (Ranzan-machi), already designated as a national historic site, Matsuyama-jo Castle (Musashi Province) (Yoshimi-machi), Ogura-jo Castle (Musashi Province) (Tokigawa-machi, Ranzan-machi, Ogawa-machi) and Sugiyama-jo Castle were designated as national historic sites and all these castles were collectively designated as national historic sites under the name of 'Hiki-jo Castle Ruins.'

Sugiyama-jo Castle issue

The claim that the erection of Sugiyama-jo Castle was by the Yamauchi Uesugi family rests on the following: the discovery of kawarake earthenware representing the characteristics of the period before the Yamauchi Uesugi clan was destroyed, the fact that Koseto style earthenware pots were made during the era of the Yamauchi Uesugi clan, that kawarake excavated from other castles have been considered to indicate a connection with the Yamauchi Uesugi clan, the lack of artefacts pointing to the era of the Gohojo clan in the 16th century, and the location of the castle itself, which as a result of research into the Kamakura kaido was found to be strategically unimportant in the era of the Gohojo clan, but was considered important as a key spot during the era of the Yamauchi Uesugi clan. The excavation research project was comprehensive, and the likelihood that Sugiyama-jo Castle was built by the Gohojo clan has declined. In recent years, it has been discovered that the phrase '椙山之陣' was written in the "Copy of the Letters of Takamoto ASHIKAGA" (足利高基書状写) and as the original manuscript was a historical document created prior to the Kawagoe Night Battle of 1546, the assertions of the research above are reinforced.

However, some supporters of the nawabari-based theory insist that Sugiyama-jo Castle was erected by the Gohojo clan since the construction of the nawabari in Sugiyama-jo Castle would be impossible without detailed design plans and Sugiyama-jo Castle's koguchi gate is similar to the three koguchi gates in Takiyama-jo Castle belonging to the Gohojo clan.

It is hoped that this issue will be more deeply discussed from historical, and archaelogical view points and through analysis of castle history.


Sugiyama 614, Ranzan-machi, Hiki-gun, Saitama Prefecture
Ranzan Ogawa Interchange on the Kanetsu Expressway is located about five hundred meters to the north west.

[Original Japanese]