Matsuyama Castle   松山城

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This medieval castle is one of the last twelve preserved in Japan

A Shachihoko

A supposed Shachihoko protect the castle from fire

The view from the tower

At the time of koyo, reddening of the leaves in autumn, the view from the tower of Matsuyama-jo is unparalleled

An overview of the Inland Sea from the dungeon

The inland sea is visible from the dungeon

Matsuyama Castle, the Castle on the Hill

From Mount Katsu, this medieval castle majestically overlooks the city. The opportunity for a nice walk between military remains, gardens and cherry trees.

It was in 1602 that construction began on Matsuyama Castle under the orders of Yoshiaki Katou, the local lord. The political fortunes of the mid-eighteenth century means the castle successively passed into the hands of Gamo and Matsudaira, but a century later Matsuyama Castle managed to escape being dismantled, a fate often reserved for fortresses during the Meiji Restoration (meant to weaken the authority of the lords).

In 1784, Matsuyama Castle was destroyed by lightning, even though hundreds of shachihoko, fish gods believed to protect buildings from fire, adorned its roofs. The castle was then razed again in 1945. In 1960 the municipality of Matsuyama decided to rebuild an identical replica, and the castle you see today is an authentic (partly) restored castle.

Always higher

Matsuyama Castle is a fine example of a hirayama-jiro, or "hilltop castle". It is within walking distance from the south flank of the hill through Ninomaru garden: a small paved and steep path leads to the first enclosure and tonashi-mon, a single arch in Japan which marks the entrance of the castle.

Below and beyond are cherry trees planted almost everywhere, making the gardens of the fortress an ideal area for hanami.

Matsuyama Castle is particularly extensive and almost all the rooms are accessible. Art objects, armor and swords are displayed in the windows that fill the rooms. Small staircases lead you to several rooms located on the different floors, one on the third floor of the tower which offers a magnificent view over the city and even the inland sea in good weather.

Reconstructed samurai armor is also available for visitors to try on and take photos.

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