Oka Castle 岡城
stone walls
Picture Donated by Raffi
Founder Ogata Koreyoshi
Nakagawa
Year 1185
Type Mountaintop
Condition Ruins
Alternate Name Takeda-jo, Gagyu-jo
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles
Location Taketa, Oita pref.
Map Google Map
Access Bungo Taketa Sta. (Houhi Line); taxi
Website Oita City
Notes
History Oka Castle has a very long history. It was originally founded for Minamoto no Yoshitsune in 1185. Shiga Sadatomo entered the castle in 1332 and initiated many repairs and improvements. Shiga's descendents ruled Oka Castle until 1586. Nakagawa Hideshige took over the castle in 1594 and began more improvements and expansion of the castle, including building a main keep and palace. The main keep was destroyed in an earthquake during the Edo Period. The Nakagawa ruled until the Meiji Restoration when all the buildings were dismantled leaving only some of the stone walls we see today.
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  • RaymondW on My Page    August 27, 2014 at 09:41 PM
    This is a fabulous mountaintop castle ruin to visit. Personally I rate this very highly, second only to Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle, which has an extant castle keep. Out of the many yamajiros (mountaintop castles) that I have visited so far, Oka Castle for me, surpasses almost all of them including highly rated ones like Takatori Castle (Nara) and Iwamura Castle (Gifu). Oka Castle Ruin is very impressive for a number of reasons. It is a massive castle on the same scale as Kannonji Castle (Shiga), Niitakayama Castle (Hiroshima), and Okishio Castle (Hyogo, not listed on JCastle yet.) It has way more ishigaki (stone walls) than the “Castle in the Clouds: Takeda Castle” and probably about the same amount of ishigaki if not more than Takatori Castle. If they chop down all the trees, the visible ishigaki of Oka Castle, perched on a mountain 352 metres above sea level (actual height differential is around 100 metres from the valley floor), would stretch for almost a kilometre in roughly a J-shape. As it is, there is a team of gardeners who regularly weed-whacks the site, so that most of this massive castle ruin is accessible to castle fans unlike other yamajiros such as Takatori Castle and Kannonji Castle, where many of the sprawling baileys and stone walls are buried under dense undergrowth and trees. Despite the efforts of the gardeners, the sides of some of the baileys (the stone wall parts) are still covered by a verdant carpet of ferns and weeds. I guess the castle ruin is just so big that it is impossible to keep it completely free of the rampant summer growth. Still it is much better maintained than similar-sized yamajiros that I have been to. Size and accessibility to most of the baileys alone don’t account for the wow factor of this castle ruin. It has many features that appeal to castle fans. Around a dozen different stone wall construction styles can be found at Oka Castle. In addition, there are several types of gate ruins including an Uzimon, kokuins (carved insignias), wells, an extensive drainage system, two massive “display stones” each measuring nearly 2m x 2m at the gate ruin to Sannomaru (Third Bailey) plus other smaller “display stones” elsewhere, very steep walls (particularly around the Ninomaru and Sannomaru), panoramic views including Mt. Aso in the distance on a clear day (unfortunately, it was somewhat hazy when I visited with my wife), and reasonably good signposting (in Japanese only). One final point in its favour is that there are relatively few tourists. In the four hours that we were on site, we came across probably around 50 to 60 people, and that was during the height of the Obon holiday. Combining all these factors with the detailed coloured map that you get with the 300yen entrance fee, and the fact that this castle ruin was the inspiration for Taki Rentaro’s famous composition, make this a great yamajiro to visit. BTW, Taki Rentaro’s statue is located in the Ninomaru (Second Bailey), not far from the site of where the Tsukimi Yagura used to be. The only downside to Oka Castle is that if you are using public transport to get there, express trains to JR Bungo-Takeda (from either Kumamoto or Oita) are quite limited with only several trains a day. The castle ruin is only a 20 minute walk from the station. The staff at the ticket booth to the castle site was very helpful, and if you ask, they do have a one-page A4 explanation of the castle in English. Kudos to the people managing Oka Castle for making it such a wonderful and accessible castle ruin to visit.
  • Ron Fox    July 07, 2014 at 08:07 AM
    There is a statue to Rentaro Taki in the ruins.
  • zaemon    March 17, 2009 at 03:26 PM
    This ruin is expecially good for hanami in the spring as there are many cherry trees there.
  • Peter in Australia    January 18, 2009 at 05:16 AM
    This castle was reputedly the inspiration for Taki Rentaro's hauntingly beautiful music for 'Kojonotsuki', although the actual lyrics are much older and are said to refer to Aizu Wakamatsujo. One day, I want to sit up on Okajo's ruined wall under a full moon and listen to that music.
  • naomi perez    September 06, 2008 at 04:31 AM
    cool pix... love the information.
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Taketa, Oita pref.
Oka Castle views
stone walls stone walls
stone walls stone walls
stone walls view from Oka Castle
stone walls view from Oka Castle
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