Images: Daniel O'Grady
知覧城Chiran Castle is classified as a mountain castle, and is located in Kagoshima Prefecture. During the pre-modern age, it found itself within the borders of Satsuma Province. It is associated with the Sata clan. Dates in use: 1197 - 1591.
If you are in Kagoshima for site-sightseeing, there's every chance you'll find yourself visiting the town of Chiran for its Kamikaze museum and for its cluster of samurai-era streets & gardens, both of which I'd highly recommend. As for the near-by Chiran castle ruins, it is perhaps only for the more castle-nerdy among us.
The form of the castle ruins is highly unusual. Multiple enclosures were formed by the natural erosion of volcanic ash resulting in half-a-dozen or so extremely steep, plateaued hills. Each of these plateaus could be reached by narrow, zig-zagged entrances known as Ko-guchi (虎口), a tiger's mouth.
One most unusual feature at this castle are the numerous man-made caves that bore into the mounds. I cannot be sure of who made them or their intended purpose. My guess is that they were used at shelters during WWII.
|Fortifications were believed to be first built at this time & being completed 8 years later. In command was Taira Tadamasa.
|The castle was in the possession of Chiran Tadayo but it was Ashikaga Takauji who awarded the castle to Sata Tadamitsu, the brother of the fifth Shimazu lord, Tadahisa.
|Control of the castle was returned to the Sata family after it had previously fallen to soldiers of the Ijuin clan.
|Due to disobedience (piracy?), the Sata lord was removed from the castle. The castle burnt to the ground at this time.
|The castle ruins were awarded National Historic Site status.
|National Historic Site