Sponsored by Nakatsugawa City
History:A short distance from Nakatsugawa Station stands the ruins of Naegi Castle. Naegi Castle, which was constructed 400 years ago, served as a home for the prominent Toyama Family. In 1871 the buildings of Naegi Castle were destroyed and today, all that remains are the impressive stone foundations of the original castle.
Points of Interest:Although the buildings of Naegi Castle may be long gone, there is still quite a lot to see while walking around the castle grounds. Most noticeable perhaps are the large natural stones which served as the foundation of the original Naegi Castle. This detail is actually quite a unique feature of Naegi Castle, since many other Japanese Castles were build on flat planes and the foundations were constructed along with the castle itself. At Naegi Castle however, the buildings that made up this fortification were created on top of an already formed natural foundation. At the top of the Naegi Castle Complex, you’ll find a well placed observation tower, which offers an astounding view of the Nakatsugawa landscape as well as Kiso river. Something that is interesting to note about the construction of the observation tower itself is that it was made without the use of nails! My Guide also informed me that both spring and fall were excellent times of year to visit Naegi Castle. In spring, there are plenty of spots for cherry blossom viewing and in fall, the landscape is filled with the colors of autumn.
Experience in Winter:I had the opportunity to visit Naegi Castle ruins towards the end of December, and in my opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful and scenic winter locations I’ve ever seen. From the observation tower you can see the snow-capped summit of Mt. Enma as wall as a mountain range from the neighboring Nagano Prefecture. If you're lucky enough to visit Naegi after a recent snowfall, then you will be able witness some very unique scenery, as a snowy castle wall is nothing short of magical! As beautiful as the views may be, it is also important to remember your own safety, especially during winter. There were a few areas of the trail that had a nearly invisible layer of ice that almost lead to both myself and my guide taking an unexpected tumble.
Access:Driving from Nakatsugawa Station the trip should take about 10 to 15 minutes. During my time at Naegi Castle I did not see any buses coming or going but that may be due to the fact that I visited the area during winter which is not a popular time of year to visit. Otherwise, you can have a nice walk to Naegi Castle ruins and stop by many other scenic spots along the way, which should take about 1 hour. The hiking map is available at Nakatsugawa Tourist Information Center next to Nakatsugawa Station.
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