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Japan Castles On The Air (JACOTA)

Castle 9. Sumoto castle (Hyogo prefecture)

Greg Cook, JO3SLK

I decided to take a trip to Awaji Island in the Inland Sea for my next castle visit. Sumoto is a small castle on the east coast of Awaji, about two hours from my house. I departed at 6:30 am, took the Shin-Meishin expressway, the Sanyo expressway, then the Kobe-Awaji-Naruto express. I crossed over the very long Akashi-Kaikyo bridge and then continued on to Sumoto city, arriving at the castle around 8:30. There were few people at that time, so I could take a leisurely walk up the path to the castle. The castle is a small one, and the only building is the Tenshu, which was reconstructed in 1928.

History of Sumoto castle

A castle was first founded on this site by Atagi Haruoki in 1526. When the Awaji area was conquered by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, he assigned Sengoku Hidehisa as lord of the castle. In 1585, Wakisaka Yasuhara was reassigned from Takatori Castle to Sumoto Castle. Wakisaka renovated much of the castle during his 24 year reign. In 1615, Awaji came under the control of the Tokushima domain and Hachisuka Yoshishige became the new lord. The castle lordship was passed to Inada Shigetane, a retainer of the Hachisuka in 1631. The Inada clan continued to rule until the Meiji Restoration. (Courtesy of Jcastle at

Layout of Sumoto castle

Sumoto is a very small castle, with only the Tenshu (main keep) remaining. The ishigaki (stone walls) are not that tall, and are old looking with moss growning on them. The bailey grounds are well maintained, and there are places that offer spectacular views of parts of Awaji island and of the Inland sea. The walk from the small parking lot, through the gate and around the baileys and stones walls to the castle takes only about 3 or 4 minutes.

The stones are smaller than the ones at castles I have visited so far, but the walls are well built, sturdy, and surround the whole Honmaru bailey.

Sumoto Tenshu

Tenshu panorama

The Tenshu was reconstructed with a concrete base that looks similar to the Eiffel tower base. The city of Sumoto is to the right.

The Tenshu looks like it is leaning to the right. I wonder if this is the reason you cannot go might be a bit unstable.

Panorama of Sumoto city

Kobe is on the other side of the mountains. Osaka and Wakayama are to the right.

Operating location and setup

There is one small upper parking lot just below the Honmaru bailey of the castle, and it has a small park with a view opening up to Kobe, Osaka and Wakayama cities. I put a UHF mobile whip antenna on the roof of my car, set up the IC-705 on the dashboard and tuned to 430MHz D-Star repeaters and made several contacts. Then I dropped down to the 430 MHz FM frequencies, and then the SSB frequencies and made a few more contacts in each mode. Then I switched the antenna to a 2 meter center loaded whip, tuned the IC-705 to the lower 144 MHz band and worked several SSB stations. Two meter SSB is very popular, and there are well equipped stations on the air most any time of the day.

I have a collection of Diamond HF Whips and a friend gave me a center loaded whip for 2 meters that I used for SSB contacts. I have a magnet mount on the roof and two additional magnetic “gound” pads connected to the base.

I could have taken my tripod and gear to the park, set it up and worked stations from there, but the sun was getting warm, my car seat is confortable, and I could run the air conditioner occasionally to keep cool. Another reason for the mobile station is that the parking lot is convenient, and close to the castle entrance, so people are coming in, staying a short time at the castle, then coming to the park to enjoy the view. Social distancing, wearing a mask and trying to operate in the crowds would be much more difficult than operating out of my car.

Working VHF and UHF FM and SSB stations is enjoyable and enables more hams to make contact with me at a castle. HF signals, especially 40 meter signals lately, seem to skip over the area I am operating in. Also, the castles I have visited so far are not that well know to all Japanese, so working local stations on V/UHF gives you the opportunity to talk to hams that probably know the castle, and sometimes a few of them have been to the castle and remember their visit. But, I will be using both HF and the upper bands for future castle visits. Stay tuned!


With the low number of new Covid 19 numbers in the Kansai area, it is easier, and I think a bit safer, to travel to castles and operate, even on a weekend where there will be more other visitors. I have two candidates for next month’s JACOTA visit and operation. One is Yamato Koriyama castle in Nara prefecture and the other is Kishiwada castle in Osaka prefecture. Yamato Koriyama castle is open all the time, so I may leave early in the morning and make the hour plus trip and get a parking spot at a small parking lot next to the castle. It also is a very larger castle grounds, with lots of things to take pics of. (Photos courtesy of

Either one should be fun and interesting. I am looking forwarding to taking you along in the next JACOTA article. Take care, be safe and the best 73!

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