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The Original Castles

Whilst most castles in Japan have been reconstructed, there are 12 original castles in Japan - “original” means they have a castle tower (or main keep) which was built before or during the Edo period - that have survived over the centuries without being damaged or destroyed: Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle*, Hikone Castle*, Himeji Castle*, Hirosaki Castle*, Inuyama Castle*, Kōchi Castle*, Marugame Castle, Maruoka Castle*, Matsue Castle*, Matsumoto Castle*, Matsuyama Castle* (Iyo), and Uwajima Castle. We have visited almost all of them; marked with an '*'.

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There are two main ski areas in Japan - Honshu and Hokkaido - each with 100's of ski fields, and deep, dry powder.

Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle

Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle, also known as Takahashi Castle, is a hilltop fortress located in the city of Takahashi, Okayama Prefecture, Japan. The castle was built in 1240 by Yamana Tadakuni and served as a strategic stronghold during the Sengoku period (1467-1603). The castle's location on top of a steep mountain provided a strategic advantage for defense against attacks, and it is considered one of the most impregnable castles in Japan. The castle was originally constructed by the Yamana clan, who were one of the most powerful clans in western Japan during the medieval period. The castle was expanded and reinforced during the 16th century by Mori Motonari, the daimyo of Aki Province. In 1575, the castle was attacked by Oda Nobunaga, who was attempting to unify Japan under his rule. However, the castle was successfully defended by Mori Terumoto, the son of Mori Motonari, and his army. The castle was later taken by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1580, who assigned Ukita Hideie as the new lord of the castle. The Ukita clan ruled the castle until the end of the Edo period in 1868, when it was dismantled as part of the Meiji Restoration. Today, only the main keep, a few gates, and a portion of the castle wall remain, but they have been well-preserved and restored over the years. The main keep of Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle is unique in that it is the only remaining original castle tower in Japan that was constructed using the yagura-zukuri style of architecture. This style features a small tower on top of a larger tower, which allowed for greater visibility and defense. The main keep of the castle has five floors and stands at a height of 25 meters, making it one of the tallest surviving castles in Japan. Visitors to Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle can climb to the top of the main keep and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The castle is also home to a museum, which displays artifacts and exhibits related to the castle's history and the samurai culture of feudal Japan. The museum includes displays of armor, weapons, and other items used by samurai warriors, as well as models and dioramas depicting the castle and its surroundings during different periods of Japanese history. Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle is also known for its cherry blossom festival, which takes place every spring. The castle's grounds are filled with over 1000 cherry trees, which bloom in late March or early April, attracting thousands of visitors each year. The castle's cherry blossom festival is considered one of the most beautiful and picturesque festivals in Japan, and is a popular destination for photographers and nature enthusiasts. In addition to its historical and cultural significance, Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle has also been featured in popular culture. The castle has appeared in numerous Japanese films, television shows, and video games, including the popular video game series "Sengoku Basara." The castle's unique architecture and impressive fortifications have made it a popular subject for artists, photographers, and historians alike.

Bitchu-Matsuyama
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Hikone Castle

Hikone Castle, also known as Hikone-jo, is a historic Japanese castle located in the city of Hikone in Shiga Prefecture. The castle was built in the early 17th century by the samurai lord Ii Naokatsu, and it has since become one of the most important cultural landmarks in Japan. In this article, we will explore the history, architecture, and significance of Hikone Castle. The history of Hikone Castle dates back to the early 17th century, when Ii Naokatsu, a powerful samurai lord, was granted permission to build a castle by the Tokugawa shogunate. The construction of the castle began in 1603, and it took seven years to complete. Hikone Castle was designed to be a formidable fortress, and it was built on a hill overlooking Lake Biwa, which provided a natural barrier against attacks from the west. Over the centuries, Hikone Castle has survived many challenges, including natural disasters and wars. In the 19th century, the castle played a significant role in the Boshin War, which was a civil war that led to the Meiji Restoration. The castle was occupied by loyalists to the shogunate, who were eventually defeated by imperial forces. Despite the damage caused by the war, Hikone Castle was preserved and restored in the following years. Hikone Castle is a prime example of Japanese castle architecture, which evolved over centuries of warfare and technological advancements. The castle is characterized by its large stone walls, thick wooden beams, and complex network of defensive structures. The main keep of the castle is a five-story structure that stands 26 meters tall. The keep is adorned with intricate carvings and paintings, and it offers a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. The castle's other notable features include a large gatehouse, a watchtower, and a series of turrets and walls that were designed to confuse and trap invading forces. The castle's walls are made of massive stones that were quarried from nearby mountains and transported to the castle site using a system of pulleys and carts. The castle's wooden structures were built using traditional Japanese joinery techniques, which allowed them to flex and bend without breaking during earthquakes. Hikone Castle is considered to be one of the most important cultural landmarks in Japan, and it has been designated as a National Treasure of Japan. The castle's historical and architectural significance lies in its unique blend of traditional Japanese and Western influences. While the castle was built using traditional Japanese techniques, it also incorporates elements of European castle design, such as its stone walls and gun ports. In addition to its historical and architectural significance, Hikone Castle is also an important symbol of Japanese culture and identity. The castle is often used as a backdrop for traditional Japanese festivals and ceremonies, and it has been featured in numerous works of art, literature, and film. Hikone Castle is also a popular tourist attraction, and it attracts visitors from all over the world who are interested in learning more about Japanese history and culture.

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle, also known as Himeji-jo in Japanese, is a stunning example of traditional Japanese architecture and is widely regarded as one of the country's most beautiful castles. Located in Himeji City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, the castle is also known as the "White Heron Castle" due to its brilliant white exterior and elegant, soaring design. Himeji Castle was originally built in 1333, during the Kamakura period. The castle was constructed as a fortification against attacks from neighboring regions, and was used as a military base during the early years of its existence. However, over the centuries, the castle was gradually expanded and transformed into the breathtaking structure we see today. In the late 16th century, a local lord named Toyotomi Hideyoshi gained control of the castle and set about expanding and improving it. Hideyoshi was a powerful military leader who sought to unify Japan, and he recognized the strategic importance of Himeji Castle as a key defense against potential enemies. Under Hideyoshi's leadership, the castle was expanded and fortified, and it became one of the most formidable fortresses in Japan. In the early 17th century, another lord named Ikeda Terumasa took control of Himeji Castle and continued to expand and beautify the structure. Terumasa was a skilled military leader and an accomplished architect, and he oversaw the construction of many of the castle's most impressive features. The castle was completed in 1609, and it remains largely unchanged to this day. In 1931, Himeji Castle was designated as a National Treasure of Japan, and in 1993, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today, the castle is one of Japan's most popular tourist destinations, attracting millions of visitors each year. One of the most striking features of Himeji Castle is its elegant, soaring design. The castle is constructed in a traditional Japanese architectural style known as "hirajiro," which is characterized by its low, flat design and lack of towers or other high structures. The castle is built on a hill, and its foundation is made of massive stones that provide stability and support. The castle's main keep, or "tenshu," is a towering structure that rises above the rest of the castle. The tenshu is made of wood and is covered in a brilliant white plaster called "shikkui." The plaster is made from a mixture of slaked lime, clay, and seaweed, and it gives the castle its distinctive white color. The white plaster also serves a practical purpose, as it reflects heat and helps to keep the castle cool during the hot Japanese summers. The castle is surrounded by a series of walls and gates, which were designed to provide additional protection against potential invaders. The walls are made of stone and are up to 12 meters high in some places. The gates are also impressive structures, with massive wooden doors and intricate carvings. Inside the castle, visitors can explore a maze of narrow corridors and steep staircases. The castle's interior is divided into several levels, with each level serving a different function. The top level of the castle was used as a lookout post, while the lower levels were used as living quarters for the castle's inhabitants. The castle also features several impressive defensive features, including hidden chambers and traps. One particularly interesting feature is the "stone-drop windows," which were designed to allow defenders to drop stones on any potential invaders who managed to breach the castle's outer walls.

Himeji Castle
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Hirosaki Castle

Hirosaki Castle is a historic castle located in the city of Hirosaki in Aomori Prefecture, Japan. It was constructed in the early 17th century by the Tsugaru clan, who ruled the Hirosaki domain during the Edo period (1603-1867). The castle is renowned for its unique architecture, beautiful cherry blossom trees, and picturesque moats, making it a popular tourist destination in Japan. During our visit in May 2023 the castle was part way though it's 10 year wall reconstruction project, so it's a little less impressive then it otherwise would have been. The history of Hirosaki Castle dates back to 1603 when the Tsugaru clan was awarded the Hirosaki domain by the Tokugawa shogunate, who ruled Japan at the time. The first lord of the domain, Tsugaru Nobuhira, began construction of the castle in 1604. It took nearly 7 years to complete the castle and the main keep, which was a three-story wooden structure, was completed in 1611. Hirosaki Castle served as the residence and administrative center of the Tsugaru clan for nearly 270 years. However, the castle suffered significant damage during the Boshin War (1868-1869) when the Meiji Restoration overthrew the Tokugawa shogunate and established the new imperial government in Japan. Many of the castle's buildings were destroyed during the war, and the castle fell into disrepair during the subsequent years. In the early 20th century, the local community began efforts to restore the castle, and several of the buildings were reconstructed in the years that followed. The main keep, which had been destroyed during the war, was rebuilt in 1810 using traditional Japanese woodworking techniques. However, the current main keep is a replica built in 1959 and is made of reinforced concrete. One of the most distinctive features of Hirosaki Castle is its architecture. The castle is designed in the style of a hirayama-style castle, which is characterized by a flatland base and a hilltop main keep. The main keep of Hirosaki Castle is three stories tall and has a square-shaped base that measures 31 meters on each side. It is adorned with an ornate roof and distinctive red and white walls. Another unique feature of Hirosaki Castle is the large number of cherry blossom trees that surround the castle grounds. The castle is particularly famous for its cherry blossom festival, which is held every year from late April to early May when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. During this time, the castle and its surrounding moats are illuminated at night, creating a magical and romantic atmosphere. In addition to the main keep, the castle also features several other buildings, including a drum tower, a gatehouse, and a shrine. The drum tower is located at the top of the hill and was used to warn of impending danger during the Edo period. The gatehouse, which is located at the entrance to the castle grounds, features a massive wooden gate and a small museum dedicated to the history of the castle. The shrine, known as Gokoku Shrine, was built in 1874 to honor the soldiers who died during the Boshin War. The shrine is located just outside the castle grounds and is a popular destination for visitors who wish to pay their respects to those who fought and died in the war. Hirosaki Castle is also home to several gardens and parks, including the Hirosaki Castle Park and the Hirosaki City Apple Park. Hirosaki Castle Park is a large park that surrounds the castle and is home to over 2,500 cherry blossom trees. The park is a popular destination for picnics, strolls, and hanami (cherry blossom viewing) during the cherry blossom season.

Inuyama Castle

Inuyama Castle is a historical fortress located in the city of Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. The castle is also known as "Hakutei-jo" or the "White Emperor's Castle" due to its white walls and the legend of its founder, the White Emperor. Inuyama Castle was constructed in 1537 by Oda Nobuyasu, the uncle of Oda Nobunaga, one of Japan's most famous feudal lords. It was built on a small hill overlooking the Kiso River, which provided an important trade route between the provinces of Owari and Mino. The castle was strategically positioned to control this trade route and protect the surrounding area from enemy attacks. In 1584, the castle was taken by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of Nobunaga's most trusted generals. Hideyoshi then gave the castle to his loyal vassal, Narita Nagachika, who became the first lord of Inuyama Castle. Over the next few centuries, the castle changed hands several times, and it underwent many renovations and restorations. During the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century, many castles in Japan were dismantled or destroyed, as they were seen as symbols of the feudal era. However, Inuyama Castle was spared, thanks to the efforts of local residents who formed a preservation society to protect it. In 1935, the castle was designated as a National Treasure by the Japanese government, and it has been well-preserved ever since. Inuyama Castle is a three-story castle with a basement level, which is rare among Japanese castles. It was built using traditional Japanese architectural techniques, with wooden beams and columns held together with wooden joints and braces. The castle's exterior is covered with white plaster, which gives it its distinctive appearance. The first floor of the castle is a storage area, where food and weapons were kept. The second floor is the living quarters, where the lord and his family resided. The third floor is the top floor, which was used as a lookout point for monitoring the surrounding area. The basement level was used for storing water and supplies in case of a siege. One of the most notable features of Inuyama Castle is its unique defensive structure. The castle has no moat or other typical defensive features, but instead relies on its steep hillside location to protect it from attack. The main entrance to the castle is also located on the second floor, which was a strategic choice to make it more difficult for attackers to breach the castle walls. Visiting Inuyama Castle Today, Inuyama Castle is open to the public and is a popular tourist destination in Aichi Prefecture. Visitors can climb to the top of the castle and enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding area. The castle is also home to a museum, which displays historical artifacts related to the castle and the surrounding region. One of the most popular events at Inuyama Castle is the annual "Inuyama Castle Festival," which takes place in late April or early May. During the festival, the castle is decorated with thousands of cherry blossoms, and traditional Japanese performances and ceremonies are held. In addition to the castle, the city of Inuyama has many other historical and cultural attractions. The nearby Meiji Mura Museum is a popular open-air museum that showcases traditional Japanese architecture and culture from the Meiji period. The Urakuen Garden is a beautiful Japanese garden that was once the private garden of the lord of Inuyama Castle.

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Kochi Castle

Kōchi Castle

Kōchi Castle is a historic castle located in Kōchi City, on the southern coast of Shikoku Island in Japan. The castle is also known as "Kochi-jo" in Japanese and is considered one of the most impressive and well-preserved castles in Japan. The castle is a popular tourist attraction and is visited by thousands of tourists every year. Kōchi Castle was originally built in 1601 by Yamauchi Kazutoyo, a feudal lord who ruled the Kōchi domain. The castle was built on a hill overlooking the city and was strategically positioned to protect the region from enemy attacks. The construction of the castle took several years and was completed in 1611. Over the years, the castle has played an important role in Japanese history. During the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the castle played a vital role in the defeat of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the establishment of a new government in Japan. The castle was also used as a military base during World War II and was heavily bombed by the Allied forces in 1945. After the war, the castle was partially restored and opened to the public as a museum. In 1959, a major restoration project was undertaken to restore the castle to its former glory. The restoration project took over 10 years and involved the reconstruction of many of the original structures and buildings. Kōchi Castle is an impressive structure that features a unique design and architecture. The castle is a six-story building that is built on a stone foundation and is surrounded by a moat. The castle is built using a traditional Japanese architectural style and features a series of connected buildings and structures. The castle's main keep, or "tenshu," is located at the center of the castle and is the tallest structure in the castle. The main keep is six stories tall and features a black tile roof and white plaster walls. The main keep is connected to the other buildings in the castle by a series of wooden corridors and bridges. The castle also features several other buildings, including a large gatehouse, a storage house, and a watchtower. The gatehouse is a two-story building that is built in the same style as the main keep. The storage house is a large, two-story building that was used to store weapons and supplies. The watchtower is a tall, three-story building that was used to keep watch over the surrounding area. One of the most popular attractions at the castle is the main keep. Visitors can climb to the top of the main keep and enjoy stunning views of the city and surrounding area. The top of the main keep also features a small museum that displays artifacts and exhibits related to the castle's history. Visitors can also explore the other buildings in the castle, including the gatehouse, storage house, and watchtower. Each building features unique exhibits and displays that provide insights into the castle's history and architecture. In addition to exploring the castle's buildings, visitors can also enjoy the castle's beautiful grounds. The castle is surrounded by a large park that features gardens, ponds, and walking paths. The park is a popular spot for picnics, relaxation, and enjoying the castle's natural beauty.

Marugame Castle

Marugame Castle is a historically significant fortress located in Marugame City, Kagawa Prefecture, Japan. The castle was built during the Edo period and is a prime example of Japanese castle architecture. Marugame Castle was constructed in 1597 by Ikoma Chikamasa, a prominent feudal lord who controlled the Marugame region during the late sixteenth century. The castle was originally built as a small fortress, but it was later expanded in 1644 by Matsudaira Yorishige, the lord of Takamatsu Castle. Matsudaira Yorishige hired several skilled craftsmen to work on the castle, and under their guidance, Marugame Castle became one of the most impressive and well-fortified castles in the region. During the Edo period, Marugame Castle played an important role in the defense of the region. It served as a stronghold for the Matsudaira clan, who controlled the castle until the end of the feudal era in Japan. In 1869, the castle was decommissioned and its structures were sold off, leaving only the keep (tenshu) and a few other structures intact. Marugame Castle is an excellent example of Japanese castle architecture, and its design incorporates elements of both traditional Japanese architecture and military fortifications. The castle is built on top of a hill, providing strategic advantages for its defenders. The main keep is a five-story wooden structure that stands 50 meters tall, and it is surrounded by several smaller buildings, including a gatehouse, a watchtower, and a few other structures that served as living quarters for the castle's defenders. The main keep of Marugame Castle features a unique architectural design that incorporates elements of both Japanese and European castle design. The exterior of the keep is clad in black tiles, giving it a distinctive appearance that sets it apart from other Japanese castles. The interior of the keep is equally impressive, with a series of steep staircases that lead up to the top floor, which provides panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Marugame Castle
Maruoka Castle

Maruoka Castle

Maruoka Castle is a unique and historic castle located in the city of Sakai in Fukui Prefecture, Japan. It is one of the few remaining original castles in the country that has not been destroyed or significantly reconstructed over the centuries. Maruoka Castle is also known as "Kasumigajo" or "The Mist Castle". According to legend, the castle was built by a powerful and wealthy lord who was known for his greed and cruelty towards his subjects. The lord was said to have made a deal with a group of supernatural beings, offering them the souls of his subjects in exchange for the power and wealth that he desired. The supernatural beings agreed to the deal, and the lord became incredibly wealthy and powerful. As time passed, the people of the lord's domain began to suffer under his cruel and oppressive rule. They prayed to the gods for help, and the gods decided to punish the lord for his sins. They sent a thick mist to surround the castle, making it impossible for the lord to leave or receive supplies. As days went by, the lord and his followers began to starve and suffer. They tried to break through the mist, but it was impenetrable. In the end, the lord and his followers were said to have perished within the walls of the castle, their souls forever trapped within the mist. The legend of Kasumigajo is often told as a cautionary tale about the dangers of greed and the importance of treating others with kindness and compassion. The mist that surrounds Maruoka Castle during the rainy season is said to be a reminder of the lord's sins and the suffering that he caused, and many visitors to the castle are said to feel a sense of awe and reverence when they witness the mist firsthand. The history of Maruoka Castle dates back to the 16th century when it was built by the famous samurai warrior Shibata Katsuie. Shibata was a powerful daimyo or feudal lord who served under Oda Nobunaga, one of the most famous and influential samurai in Japanese history. The castle was originally built as a fortress to protect the area from enemy attacks, and it served as a key strategic location during many battles throughout the Sengoku period. The castle was later inherited by Shibata's son, Shibata Yoshihisa, who continued to expand and develop the castle over the years. Maruoka Castle underwent significant renovations in the early 17th century under the rule of Matsudaira Tadanao, who was appointed as the new lord of the castle by the Tokugawa shogunate. During the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century, many castles in Japan were destroyed as a symbol of the country's modernization. However, Maruoka Castle was spared from destruction and was instead designated as a national treasure in 1922. The castle underwent several restorations and renovations over the years, including a major restoration in the 1990s that helped to preserve the castle's original appearance and historical significance. One of the most striking features of Maruoka Castle is its unique architectural design. Unlike many other castles in Japan, which were built with stone or concrete walls, Maruoka Castle was constructed with wooden walls and a thick layer of plaster. The plaster was mixed with straw and clay, giving the castle its distinctive appearance and helping to insulate the interior from extreme temperatures. Another interesting aspect of Maruoka Castle is its strategic location on top of a steep hill. The castle was designed to take advantage of its natural surroundings, with steep cliffs and deep valleys surrounding the castle walls. The castle's defensive design included a series of gates and barriers that could be used to slow down and confuse enemy attackers, as well as a network of secret tunnels and escape routes that allowed defenders to move around the castle undetected.

Matsue Castle

Matsue Castle is a beautiful and historic castle located in the city of Matsue, which is situated in Shimane Prefecture, Japan. This castle is also known as the "Black Castle" because of its dark exterior color, which is a unique feature that distinguishes it from other castles in Japan. Matsue Castle was built in the early 17th century and was the seat of the Matsue Clan, one of the most powerful clans in Japan during that time. Today, it stands as a testament to the architectural and cultural history of Japan and attracts thousands of visitors each year. The construction of Matsue Castle began in 1607 and was completed in 1611. The castle was built by the Matsue Clan, who were a powerful family that ruled the surrounding area of Shimane Prefecture. The Matsue Clan were supporters of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the ruling government of Japan at that time. The construction of the castle was a testament to the clan's wealth and power, and it was built to serve as their stronghold and protect them from their enemies. Matsue Castle is a five-story castle that was built on top of a hill overlooking Lake Shinji. It was designed to be a fortress and was built using traditional Japanese castle architecture. The castle is constructed of wood and stone and features a dark exterior color, which is made of black lacquer. This black color was applied to the castle to make it less visible to enemies during the night. The castle is surrounded by a moat, which is fed by Lake Shinji. The moat is 23 meters wide and is lined with stone walls that are 3-4 meters high. The moat was designed to make it difficult for enemies to approach the castle and to prevent them from attacking it. The interior of Matsue Castle is just as impressive as its exterior. The castle has five floors, each of which has a different purpose. The first floor was used for storage and for housing the samurai warriors who were responsible for defending the castle. The second floor was the main living quarters for the lord of the castle and his family. The third floor was used as a lookout tower, and the fourth floor was used for meetings and ceremonies. The fifth floor, which is the topmost floor, was used as a watchtower and offers a stunning view of the surrounding area. The interior of the castle is decorated with beautiful artwork and traditional Japanese furnishings. The castle also features several exhibits that showcase the history and culture of the Matsue Clan and the surrounding area. Visitors can learn about the castle's construction, its role in Japanese history, and the life of the samurai warriors who defended it. Matsue Castle has played a significant role in Japanese history. During the Meiji Period (1868-1912), Japan underwent a period of modernization, and many castles were destroyed as a result. However, Matsue Castle was one of the few castles that survived this period, and it was designated as a National Treasure of Japan in 1931. The castle also survived World War II and remains one of the few original castles in Japan. Today, Matsue Castle is a popular tourist destination in Japan. Visitors can explore the castle's interior and learn about its history and culture. The castle also hosts several events throughout the year, including traditional Japanese festivals and cultural exhibitions. Visitors can also enjoy a boat ride on Lake Shinji, which offers a stunning view of the castle from the water.

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Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle, also known as the "Crow Castle" due to its black exterior, is a stunning piece of Japanese architecture located in the city of Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. It is widely considered one of Japan's most significant historic castles, renowned for its unique and well-preserved structure, beautiful surroundings, and fascinating history. The castle was built in 1504 by the Ogasawara clan, who ruled the area at the time, on a strategic site near the river in Matsumoto. The original castle was a smaller structure made of wood, but over time it was expanded and reinforced with stone walls and towers. In the late 16th century, the castle came under the control of the powerful Toyotomi clan, who continued to develop and improve the structure. However, it was not until the 17th century that the castle was transformed into its current form, under the rule of the powerful daimyo Ishikawa Norimasa. Norimasa was responsible for the construction of the imposing five-story keep, which stands at 30 meters high and is surrounded by a series of impressive stone walls and moats. One of the most notable features of Matsumoto Castle is its unique design. Unlike many other castles in Japan, which were built primarily for defensive purposes, Matsumoto Castle was also designed with aesthetics in mind. The castle's elegant silhouette and intricate roof design are particularly striking, making it a popular destination for tourists and photographers alike. The castle's interior is equally impressive, with a series of interconnected rooms that showcase the castle's history and the life of its former inhabitants. Visitors can climb up to the top of the keep to enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside, and explore the many exhibits and displays that provide a glimpse into the castle's past. One of the most fascinating aspects of Matsumoto Castle's history is its role in the Japanese feudal era. During this time, Japan was divided into a series of smaller territories, each ruled by a daimyo or feudal lord. Matsumoto Castle played a crucial role in the battles between these various factions, serving as both a stronghold and a symbol of power and authority. Despite being a crucial military stronghold, Matsumoto Castle was also home to many of its inhabitants. The castle's residential quarters are particularly well-preserved, with many of the original fixtures and fittings still intact. Visitors can see how the castle's former inhabitants lived, worked, and socialized, gaining a unique insight into life in feudal Japan. Another fascinating aspect of Matsumoto Castle's history is its association with the ninja. The castle was once home to a group of ninja who were responsible for the castle's security and defense. These highly skilled warriors were known for their stealth and cunning, and played a crucial role in the castle's history. Today, Matsumoto Castle is a popular tourist destination and an important cultural landmark in Japan. Visitors can explore the castle and its grounds at their own pace, taking in the breathtaking scenery and learning about the castle's history and significance. The castle is also home to a variety of events and festivals throughout the year, including traditional Japanese performances and demonstrations.

Matsuyama Castle

Matsuyama Castle is a historic castle located in the city of Matsuyama, on the island of Shikoku in Japan. The castle was built in 1603 by Kato Yoshiaki, a powerful feudal lord who was granted the land by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Matsuyama Castle is considered to be one of the most impressive and well-preserved castles in Japan, and it is a popular tourist attraction for both Japanese and international visitors. The castle is located on top of a hill that overlooks the city of Matsuyama and the surrounding countryside. The hill is approximately 132 meters (433 feet) tall, and it provides excellent views of the city and the Seto Inland Sea. Matsuyama Castle is a unique example of a mountain castle, as it is built on a steep slope and features a complex network of walls, gates, and towers. The castle consists of several different areas, including the Honmaru (main compound), Ninomaru (second compound), and Sannomaru (third compound). The Honmaru is the central area of the castle and it contains the main keep, which is the largest and most impressive building in the castle. The keep is six stories tall and it is made of wood and stone. It is one of the few remaining original castle keeps in Japan. The Ninomaru is located to the east of the Honmaru and it contains several buildings, including the palace of the lord of the castle and a number of administrative buildings. The Sannomaru is located to the north of the Ninomaru and it contains a number of auxiliary buildings, such as barracks, storehouses, and stables. One of the most impressive features of Matsuyama Castle is its network of stone walls and moats. The castle is surrounded by a series of concentric walls and moats, which were designed to provide protection against attackers. The walls are made of large stones that were cut and fitted together without the use of mortar. The moats were filled with water from a nearby river and they were designed to prevent attackers from approaching the castle walls. Visitors to Matsuyama Castle can explore the various areas of the castle and learn about its history and architecture. The castle has several museums and exhibits that showcase artifacts and information related to the castle's construction and history. There is also a gift shop and a restaurant on the castle grounds. Matsuyama Castle has played an important role in Japanese history. It was built during the Edo period, which was a time of relative peace and stability in Japan. The castle served as the headquarters of the Matsuyama Domain, which was one of the largest and most powerful domains in the region. The lord of the Matsuyama Domain had a significant amount of power and influence in the local community, and the castle was a symbol of his authority and wealth. During the Meiji period, which began in 1868, Japan underwent significant social, political, and economic changes. The feudal system was abolished and the country transitioned to a modern, industrialized nation. Many castles in Japan were destroyed or dismantled during this period, as they were no longer considered necessary for defense or governance. However, Matsuyama Castle was spared from destruction, as it was deemed to be of historical and cultural significance. In the 20th century, Matsuyama Castle underwent significant restoration and renovation. The main keep was reconstructed in 1854, using traditional methods and materials, and it was opened to the public as a museum in 1929. The castle's walls and gates were also repaired and restored during this period.

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Uwajima Castle

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