Take our user survey here!

Sunomata Castle: The One Night Castle

Can a castle be built overnight? The legend has it that Sunomata Castle in Gifu was built overnight to intimidate enemies of the lord Oda Nobunaga.

By 3 min read

Sunomata Castle (墨俣城), located close to Ogaki City in Gifu Prefecture is an off the beaten path Japanese castle with a great story behind it. The castle is also known as “Ichiya-jo”, which literally means “one night castle” in Japanese. According to legend the castle was said to have been built in one night and hence the name.

Sunomata Castle History

The original castle was constructed in 1566 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of the generals of the famous samurai warlord, Oda Nobunaga. The one night castle consisted of a wooden walled fortress with lookout towers and basic living quarters. In reality, the fortress would have taken two or three days to complete the basic defensive structures. Hideyoshi cleverly used pre-assembled sections to complete the fortress and it was constructed so quickly that it gave the illusion of being erected “overnight”.

Nobunaga ordered the castle to be built on the edge of his enemy’s territory, to act as a bridgehead for his final attack on the Saito’s clan’s main castle located in Gifu (Inabayama Castle). The quick construction was meant to give his men a strong vantage point as well as to surprise and demoralize his nearby enemy.

The castles successful construction lead to Nobunaga defeating the garrisons within Gifu and becoming the lord of the Mino Domain. A huge stepping stone in his drive towards Kyoto, and mission of unifying Japan during the Warring States period.

It was also seen as the start of the rise of power of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who would later continue Nobunaga’s work as unifier and ruler of Japan. At the end of the bridge leading to the castle you’ll find a statue of Hideyoshi, which is a nice reminder of the history behind the castle.


Present Day

The current castle is a concrete reconstruction built in 1991, and modelled after nearby Ogaki Castle. The modern structure is a lot grander than the actual original wooden Sunomata Castle built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It serves as a local history museum, highlighting the famous history of the castle, and conflict between Nobunaga and the Saito Clan. You can see how the castle would have looked like in its day as well as some samurai weapons and armour. The view from the castle is also spectacular and on a clear day you can see Gifu Castle to the North (formerly Inabayama Castle).

The castle is beautiful and situated on the banks of the Sai and Nagara Rivers, and is one of the best spots in Gifu to see the cherry blossoms. The banks lining the rivers are covered in around 1,000 cherry trees. The area around the castle is also illuminated at night creating a spectacular scene.

Sunomata Castle helped change the face of Japan’s long history, and was a stepping stone to the eventual unification of a warring Japan. If you are after an interesting small castle with a great story behind it, then a visit to Sunomata Castle is well worth your time.

Events at Sunomata Castle

Ume Matsuri – late February to early March
Sakura Matsuri – late March to mid April
Tenousai Natsu Matsuri – late July
Hideyoshi Shusse Matsuri – early October


Address: 1742-1 Sunomata, Sunomata-cho, Ogaki-shi, Gifu Prefecture
Admission: Entry to the castle is 200 yen
Hours: Sunomata Castle is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Time: I would recommend around an hour to explore the castle and grounds
Closed:  Mondays (open if a national holiday and closed on Tuesday instead)
Parking: FREE


Take the JR Tokaido Line to Ogaki Station. From the south exit of JR Ogaki Station, take a Meihan Kintetsu Bus to the Sunomata bus stop, and it’s only a 5 minute walk to the castle.

Topics: /

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA - Privacy Policy - Terms of Service



The Crow Castle of Matsumoto

Matsumoto Castle is one of four castles designated as 'National Treasures of Japan' and one of the oldest castle donjon remaining in Japan.

By 3 min read 1


Groovy Osaka: Nipponbashi

Known colloquially as "Den-Den Town," Nipponbashi is Osaka’s Otaku shopping paradise.

By 3 min read 3


A Walking Photo Tour of Kagurazaka

Wander through charming pre-war alleyways and sample some of the finest niku-man in Tokyo on a walking tour of Kagurazaka.

By 2 min read 3