Enjoy Hike to Castle and Majestic Scenery of Castle Town from Above. -Bitchu Matsuyama Castle-
Bitchu Matsuyama Castle, which has a history of over 770 years and whose main keep was restored in the existing form about 330 years ago, stands 430 meters, or 1,410 feet, above sea level, on one of four mountaintops of Mt. Gagyu. It is one of the 12 original castles which remain from the premodern days in Japan. Most castles in Japan have no original keep because of the demolition by "the Castle Abolishment Law" in 1873 and air raids during World War II. It is known as one of the three major "castles in the sky" of Japan along with Echizen Ono Castle in Fukui Prefecture and Takeda Castle in Hyogo Prefecture. It takes around 20 minutes to climb to the site at a distance of 700 meters, 2,300 feet from Fuigo Pass, which is the nearest public parking area to the main keep on foot.
It is also famous for its sea of clouds. Under certain conditions, it emerges in the morning from late September to early April. Early in the morning from early November to early December, a sea of thick clouds above which Bitchu Matsuyama Castle stands may be seen from the observation point in the place about 20 minutes away from Bitchu Takahashi Station by taxi. The best season is after the autumn leaves of the trees by the main keep have fallen off. A taxi tour that departs from Bitchu Takahashi Station operates twice-daily services from October to March. A reservation is required to join it. It affords a spectacular view that is both staggering and captivating.
The typical two-layered, two-story keep has a three-layered, three-story appearance. The political center lay in Onegoya, current Takahashi High School, in the castle town built around the castle, and the successive lords resided there. The main keep played a symbolic role.
Sanjuro, a cat who has lived in the castle since July 2018, was appointed as its lord. He welcomes visitors by the entrance every day except when getting a check-up at a veterinary clinic or having something else to do. Visitors are directly not allowed to feed because he is suffering from urinary tract stones.
Getting here directly: 90 minutes on foot from Bitchu Takahashi Station
Getting to Fuigo Pass: 10 min. from Bitchu Takahashi Station by shared taxi (reservation required)
Getting to Shiromibashi Koen (only the weekdays and national holidays of the period from April to May, and September to November): 10 min. by bus from Takahashi Bus Terminal (there is a shuttle bus service available from Shiromibashi Koen to Fuigo Pass.)
Getting to Matsuyamajo Tozanguchi bus stop: 10 min. by a city circular bus from Takahashi Bus Terminal (the castle is 50 minutes' walk away from the bus stop.)
Closed: December 29 to January 3
Admission: 500 yen for adults (high school students & over): / 200 yen for elementary and junior high school students
Combined tickets for Bitchu Matsuyama Castle, samurai residences in Ishibiyacho Furusato Village and Raikyuji Temple available.
Group discount available for a group of 30 or more people.