Wind Castle 風の城

In north Toyama, as Hwy 41 goes off into the mountains to connect to Hida, you can find the Wind Castle on a short mountain overlooking the boundary between civilization and mountain-life. Despite traveling through the area numerous times throughout the last 10 years, I've never noticed this structure perched on the hill.

After parking at the Sarukura Forest Park alongside several barbecue bits, you are presented with 440 steps that ascend to an altitude of 345 meters. It takes about 10 minutes, which isn't so bad unless you aren't prepared for it. As you reach the top, you'll find the wind castle, pictured above.

This is the summit of Sarukura Mountain 猿倉山, and from the observation deck, you can see all the way to Toyama Bay on a clear day.

I took a bunch of photos and put them together into a huge panoramic shot.
Hi-Res Panoramic: /wind_castle_panoramic_hi.png (186.5mb)

You can see nearly all of Toyama, and there is a free-to-use binocular scope so you see the airport, sports arena, and other areas in clear view.

Apparently, around 1558 to 1570, the summit of Sarukura Mountain was the site of the Sarukura Castle 猿倉城, but nothing remains today. The military commander at the time was under the command of the ruler of the Hida region to the south. Hida is surrounded by mountains, so there are very few ways of getting up there. This castle was built to monitor any large armies that may be headed up the mountain to attack.

This path can be clearly seen today in the above panoramic. There's an incredible clear view of Hwy 41 coming down from Hida.

It still completely baffles me that I never noticed this place before. Although, I think it's easy to see why I hadn't noticed it before. On my way back home up to Hida, I took some reverse photos looking back at the mountain and the castle.

The white castle blends into the sky very easily. If you didn't know it was there, you would never notice it. But, once you know that it's there and where to look, it pops out.

There's also not a whole lot of information about the Wind Castle online. In fact, my friend and I only found this thing by skimming around Toyama in Google Maps looking for something to do. I wanted to know exactly when they built this thing, and its purpose.

There's a plaque on the Wind Caste which states the following:
平成2年度 Heisei-2 (or 1990)
中部通商産業局 地域エネルギー開発利用発電モデル事業 Chubu Bureau of International Trade and Industry Regional Energy Development Utilization Power Generation Model Project
「風の城 風力エネルギー開発利用事業」"The Wind Castle - Wind Energy Development Utilization Project"
-富山県大沢野町 - Osawano Town, Toyama Prefecture.

Quite a mouthful. Seems like it was built in 1990, although I wanted to find more substantial information online. Eventually I did find a blog post of someone talking about Sarukura castle (explained earlier), and a few other things. In particular, in 1975, as part of Toyama prefecture's 100th year anniversary, a 9.6km trail was opened from Mt. Sarukura to Mt. Kosami Gozen 小佐波御前山. It didn't mention anything about the Wind Castle at that time.

I didn't find anything that confirmed its opening in 1990. But, it was probably built in 1990 as its architecture and flashy nature seems to fit that time well. Like everything built during the economic high times of the 80s and 90s in Japan, it is definitely showing wear and tear from the years. Some of the windows have been kicked out, and the metal railing has graffiti almost everywhere. One of the door had been kicked in, too.

If you've never been, I would absolutely recommend driving up here if you're going to or from Toyama. I will probably return here each time I visit Toyama now. Different weather, different season, and different time of day will all create a new view. :)

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