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Travel Setagaya Castle

By Hiroto Uehara, Nov 26, 2016 | |
  1. Hiroto Uehara
    Once upon a time, right in the center of Tōkyō's Setagaya Ward near the present-day ward office, there was a small fortress called Setagaya Castle (世田谷城).


    The ancient castle was located on the tip of a tongue-shaped plateau that stretched south from the hills between Gōtōkuji (豪徳寺駅) and Kyōdō (経堂駅) stations on Odakyu Line, surrounded by Karasuyama River (now a culvert).

    This map is based Tokyo Terrain Map powered by gridscapes.net

    Nowadays, the former inner bailey (本丸 honmaru) is located on the grounds of the adjacent Gōtōkuji temple, and the south-eastern enclosure of the castle became part of the Setagaya Castle Site Park.

    On that day, I took a ride on one of Tōkyū Setagaya Line's petite green cars from Sangenjaya to Kamimachi, and then I walked 5 minutes to the park.


    Although the former castle grounds are small in size, several well-maintained enclosures, earthworks and dried moats remain in the park.


    In 1366, Ashikaga Motouji bestowed the Setagaya lands on the Kira clan (吉良氏), a cadet branch of the Ashikaga. Kira Haruie constructed a fortification between 1394 and 1424; in the mid-15th century, Kira Naritaka expanded it into a small castle. The Kira were allies of Ōta Dōkan, the founder of Edo, and the Hōjō clan.

    In 1590, the Hōjō were defeated by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the siege of Odawara, and Setagaya Castle was abandoned. Thereafter, the Kira disappeared from the annals of history.* It is said that the stones of Setagaya Castle were later used in the construction of Edo Castle.

    After visiting the castle ruins, I walked to the nearby Gōtōkuji temple.

    Some remaining earthworks in residential area between the park and Gōtōkuji temple.

    The Kira residence was situated in the current temple compound. Gōtōkuji temple, formally known as Kōtōku-in, was installed within the bounds of Setagaya Castle by the Kira.


    In the Edo Period (1600-1868) the Hikone domain established its official residence in Setagaya. The lords of Hikone, the Ii clan, made Gōtōkuji their ancestral temple. Over 300 members - Lord Ii naosuke among them - of the Ii are buried there. Gōtōkuji is also well-known for its maneki-neko (beckoning cats). There are a number of stories surrounding the maneki-neko and the role of Gōtōkuji temple, read one of them here.


    (Date of visit : 18th May 2013)

    * The Mikawa-Kira, with Kira Kozukenosuke of Forty-Seven Ronin fame, were a different branch.

    Access Information
    • Address: Gotokuji, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo (Map)
    • Transportation: 5 minutes from Tokyu Setagaya line Kamimachi Station(SG06) on foot
    • Other sights: Gotokuji Temple


    About Author

    Hiroto Uehara
    Hiroto is an ordinary Japanese office worker, but his true mission is searching for castles on the weekend.

Recent User Reviews

  1. thomas
    "Never knew!"
    Thank you for sharing this! It's quite surprising how many ancient castle sites can be found in modern Tokyo. Combined with Gotofuji, this seems to be an interesting sightseeing spot. :thumbsup:


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