The Vantage Point on Awaji
Sumoto Castle is located on Mount Mikumayama, at a 133 meters altitude in the south of Sumoto City and in the center of Awaji-shima island in Japan. This feudal site is renowned for its well-preserved fortified walls, and a pleasant climb up to the foot of the keep that was reconstructed at the beginning of the 20th century. The summit offers a 360° panorama over the city, the mountains and the sea of the Kitan Strait in Osaka Bay.
Considered as the capital of Awaji-shima, Sumoto city spreads from the island’s eastern coast to its center. Thanks to this strategic location the city has long overlooked the ships traffic in the Kitan Strait, at the southern entrance of Osaka Bay.
Perched at the top of Mount Mikuma, Sumoto Castle 🏯 was built in 1526 by Atagi Haruoki, a leader of the Kishu province’s Kumano Suigun naval forces. The place was subsequently ruled by various lords, depending on the outcomes of battles at the times: Sengoku Hidehisa (1552 - 1614), Wakizaka Yasuharu (1554 - 1626) and Hachisuka Shigeyoshi (1738 - 1801) took part in the enclosure’s extension and fortification up to its present state. The Inada Clan was the last family to rule over Sumoto-jo and abandoned it in 1642 in favor of the fortified lower city at its foot.
Climbing the ruins along the fortified walls
Nowadays, the stone walls that made the fortified enclosure on the upper half of the mountain to its top remain of these historical periods. These ruins are authentic and well-preserved in their entirety and are the main attraction at Sumoto Castle. They measure 800 meters long east to west and 600 meters long north to south.
The ascension of Mount Mikuma starts from the parking and follows the fortifications, by the same steep path the warriors used to tread, going through the successive gates marked by high walls and stone stairways. Moss, roots and trunks are trying to grow between the stones in an attempt of the vegetation to reclaim this mineral world.
Closing to the main esplanade, the path is lined with many Japanese cherry trees, that provide in spring a beautiful spot to admire the blooming of the sakura 🌸 and celebrate ohanami on Awaji Island.
Panorama at the foot of a concrete tower
Sumoto-jo’s keep stands at the highest point of the walk and is a small modern tower, that is not open to the visit. The reinforced concrete building was erected in 1928 and is one of the oldest reconstructed castle towers in Japan. Unfortunately, it does not do justice to the original donjon nor to the elegance of Japanese feudal monuments, be it by its proportions or by its look.
So don’t dwell on the only building of the visit and rather focus on the panorama from the summit of Mikumiyama. The 360° view opens on a diverse landscape, both urban and natural, with:
- Sumoto City and its coastline sporting the beautiful Ohama beach;
- The blue horizon line on Osaka Bay; and,
- The mountains of Awaji spreading landward.
As access to this observatory is free, we recommend a visit at nightfall to watch the sun set, then the streets of the illuminated city at night.
On the way back, the path crosses several small interesting places such as Shibaemon-tanuki and Hachioji-jinja shrines, as well as Tsukino-ike pond. The mountain is part of the Setonaikai National Park and is enjoyed by the locals as a nature excursion with an easy access by car 🚙.