Sugaya Castle (菅谷城) is located in Ranzan, Hiki District, in Saitama Prefecture and allegedly the site of the former residence of Hatakeyama Shigetada, an important retainer of the Kamakura Shogunate in the early Kamakura period (1185-1333). The castle was designated a National Historic Site in 1973 and has been added to the "Continued 100 Finest Castles of Japan" (続日本100名城) on 120th position in April 2017.
The castle is situated close to the confluence of the Tsukigawa and the Tokigawa River, a large tributary of the Arakawa River. Its location was of strategic and commercial importance, not only because goods were transported on the river, but also due to its vicinity to the Kamakura Kaidō (鎌倉街道), a meshwork of roads connecting the capital Kamakura to various locations in the Kantō region.
Later, the castle played a role in the Chōkyō Revolt (長享の乱, 1487-1505), a conflict between the Yamauchi Uesugi clan, who held the office of kantō kanrei (shogunal deputies), and the Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan. It is assumed that the Hōjō clan used Sugaya Castle after they had driven out Uesugi Kenshin from the region.
The castle lies on a terrace overlooking the Tokigawa River on its southern side.
I took the car to the Historical Museum Of Ranzan (埼玉県立嵐山史跡の博物館) next to the castle site. The museum exhibits maps of the castles in the Hiki Hills, including Sugiyama and Ogura Castle.
Earthworks and dried moats are still visible.
The site of the former main enclosure
I imagined the castle of a local lord in the Middle Ages to be much smaller. However, it took me quite some time to pace the castle grounds which measure about 400 metres on each side.
A statue of Hatakeyama Shigetada (1164-1205), a descendant of the Chichibu clan and an influential retainer of the Kamakura Shogunate