Matsuyama Castle

Matsuyama Castle

Matsuyama Castle is one of the most impressive and well-preserved castles in Japan, located on Mount Katsuyama in the city of Matsuyama in Ehime Prefecture. The castle was originally built in the early 1600s by Kato Yoshiaki and later became the residence of the Matsudaira family until the end of the feudal era. The castle was destroyed by fire in 1784 but was reconstructed in 1852.

Matsuyama Castle is one of the twelve original castles in Japan that has survived the post-feudal era since 1868 intact. It is known for its flatland-mountain style architecture and impressive defensive features. The castle has been designated as a National Historic Site since 1952 and is a popular tourist destination in the region.

Visitors to Matsuyama Castle can explore the castle’s many towers, gates, and walls, as well as the Ninomaru Historical Garden and Shiroyama Park, which offer stunning views of the surrounding area. The castle is also home to many important cultural artifacts and historical exhibits, making it a must-see destination for anyone interested in Japanese history and culture.


Matsuyama Castle

Matsuyama Castle was built in 1603 by Kato Yoshiaki, a daimyo or feudal lord. The castle was constructed on Mount Katsuyama, which is a flatland-mountain style that is unique to Japan. The castle was initially built as a fortress to protect the region from invasion and to serve as a residence for the lord.

During the Edo period, the castle was assigned to the Matsudaira family, who were relatives of the ruling Tokugawa family. The Matsudaira family maintained control of the castle until the end of the feudal era. The castle underwent several renovations during this period, including the addition of a second floor to the tenshu or main tower in 1784. Unfortunately, the castle was struck by lightning and burned down the same year.

After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the castle was designated as a national historic site in 1952. The castle underwent extensive restoration work, and the tenshu was rebuilt in 1854. Today, Matsuyama Castle is one of the twelve Japanese castles that still has its original tenshu.

The castle played a significant role in the history of Japan and the region. It was the site of several battles during the Sengoku period, a time of civil war in Japan. The castle also served as a center of political power during the Edo period. Today, the castle is a popular tourist destination, and visitors can enjoy the stunning views of the city and the surrounding countryside from the top of the castle.


Matsuyama Castle

Matsuyama Castle is a prime example of Japanese castle architecture. The castle is built on a flat hilltop area of about 400 meters long and 100 meters wide. It consists of three enclosures: the Honmaru (main enclosure), the Ninomaru (secondary enclosure), and the Sannomaru (tertiary enclosure).

The castle’s design is unique, with three masugata-style gates located at the south, northwest, and northeast. The masugata-style gate is a type of gate that features two square gates with a small space between them. This design allowed defenders to trap attackers in the space between the two gates, making them easy targets for archers positioned on the castle walls.

The castle’s walls are made of stone and are up to 2.5 meters thick at the base. The walls rise to a height of 20 meters and have been designed to withstand attacks from enemy forces. The castle’s roof is made of black tiles and is designed to blend in with the surrounding forest.

The castle’s interior is equally impressive, with a maze of corridors, staircases, and rooms. The castle’s keep is a three-story building that offers a panoramic view of the surrounding area. The keep is made of wood and has been designed to withstand earthquakes and high winds.

Overall, Matsuyama Castle is an excellent example of Japanese castle architecture. Its unique design and impressive construction make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Japanese history and architecture.


Matsuyama Castle is a must-visit attraction when you are in Matsuyama. The castle is located on a steep hill in the city center and provides visitors with a bird’s eye view of Matsuyama and the Seto Inland Sea. The castle is one of the twelve original castles in Japan and is known for its impressive architecture and history.

One of the best times to visit Matsuyama Castle is during the cherry blossom season, typically around late March to early April each year. There are about 200 cherry trees on the castle grounds, making it a lovely spot to enjoy the beautiful pink blossoms.

Aside from Matsuyama Castle, there are other attractions nearby that you can visit. Here are some of the top attractions:

  • Matsuyama Shiroyama Park: This park is located near Matsuyama Castle and is a great place to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The park is home to various cherry trees, making it another great spot for cherry blossom viewing.
  • Bansuiso: This is a historic villa that was built in the early 20th century. The villa is known for its beautiful architecture and gardens.
  • Dogo Onsen: This is one of the oldest hot springs in Japan and is said to have healing properties. The hot spring is located in the Dogo Onsen Honkan, a historic bathhouse that has been designated as an Important Cultural Property.
  • Ishiteji Temple: This is one of the 88 temples on the Shikoku Pilgrimage, a famous pilgrimage route in Japan. The temple is known for its beautiful architecture and is a popular spot for visitors.

Overall, Matsuyama Castle and the nearby attractions offer a unique and enjoyable experience for visitors. Whether you are interested in history, architecture, or nature, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Matsuyama.

Visiting Matsuyama Castle

Catching the Chairlift To Matsuyama Castle

Matsuyama Castle is a must-visit attraction when in Matsuyama. Here’s what you need to know before visiting:

Getting There

The castle is located on top of Mount Katsuyama, and there are a few ways to get there. You can take the ropeway or chairlift, or you can hike up the mountain. If you’re not up for the hike, the ropeway and chairlift are great options.

To get to the castle area, you can take the number five tram line from Matsuyama JR Station to the Okaido tram stop. From Matsuyama City Station, take the number two or three tram line, then transfer to the number five tram line at Okaido.

Tickets and Admission

Admission to the castle is 510 yen for adults and 150 yen for children. You can purchase tickets at the entrance or online. If you’re planning on visiting other attractions in Matsuyama, consider purchasing a combined ticket for a discount.

Exploring the Castle

Once you’re at the castle, be prepared to do some walking. The castle grounds are expansive, and there are many stairs to climb. Wear comfortable shoes and bring water.

Inside the castle, you’ll find exhibits on the history of the castle and the city of Matsuyama. The views from the top of the castle are breathtaking, so make sure to bring your camera.

Other Tips

  • Visit early in the day to avoid crowds.
  • Check the weather before you go. The castle may be closed in inclement weather.
  • Bring cash for admission and souvenirs. Credit cards may not be accepted.

The Sum Up

Matsuyama Castle is a fascinating historical site that offers visitors a glimpse into Japan’s rich feudal past. The castle’s impressive architecture, including its multiple wings and well-defended gates, is a testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the castle’s builders.

Visitors to Matsuyama Castle can explore the castle’s various enclosures, including the Honmaru, Ninomaru, and Sannomaru, as well as the castle’s towers and keep. The castle’s historical significance is further highlighted by its inclusion in the prologue of Ryotaro Shiba’s novel, “Clouds Above the Hill.”

For those interested in Japanese history and architecture, Matsuyama Castle is a must-see destination. Whether you’re exploring the castle’s gardens, stonewalls, or simply taking in the stunning views, there is something for everyone at Matsuyama Castle.