Sasayama Castle 篠山城
Founder Tokugawa Ieyasu
Year 1609
Type Hilltop
Condition Other Buildings
Alternate Name Kirigajo
Reconstructed 2000 (Osyoin Palace)
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles
Location Sasayama, Hyogo Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Sasayama-guchi Station (Fukuchiyama Line), bus
Website Sasayama City
Notes All photos and text donated by Kenji Yamamoto

From the top of Mt. Takashiro to the Southeast of Sasayama Castle the Hatano ruled over the Tanba area from Yagami Castle. Yagami Castle fell to attacks by Akechi Mitsuhide in 1579. In 1608 Tokugawa Ieyasu's son Matsudaira Yasushige became lord of Yagami Castle. The following year, Ieyasu initiated the construction of Sasayama Castle while dismantling Yagami Castle as part of his plan to better control Osaka Castle, the Toyotomi and the other lords of Western Japan. The castle was designed by Todo Takatora and completed in only six months. It is famous for having an intact gate type called umadashi.

Eventually, all the structures of this castle were destroyed and in 1944 the Oshoin Palace was burned in a fire. The palace was reconstructed from original pictures and also by making reference to the Ninomaru Palace at Nijo Castle. You can see many of these original pictures and the reconstruction progress on the website (

Sasayama sits in a basin surrounded by mountains on all sides. When visiting this location it is easy to get caught up in the castle and castle town in such an isolated atmosphere of mountains. Even though there are almost no structures reamining of the castle today one can easily imagine what it was like surrounded by the atmosphere of this castle and castle town. There is also a museum and samurai home to tell the story of samurai in this area.

This area is famous for a kind of black bean and wild boar meat. These Tanba area beans are large and sweet with an excellent flavor. They also have bread among many other dishes made from these beans. There are few tourists during the off season though there tend to be many for Cherry Blossoms in the spring and the Summer Festival.

Rating: 3 Stars (Castle 2.5 stars, Town 2.5 Stars)
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  • Raymond    September 10, 2009 at 10:02 PM
    This is a nice little castle ruin to visit. It’s a little out of the way, but you can get there from Osaka in around an hour. However, the castle site is 6km from the JR Sasayamaguchi Station. I rented a bicycle for 700yen (whole day and the only rate) from the bike rental place next to the train station and rode into Sasayama in around 15 minutes. The bicycles are new red commuter bikes with three gears and battery-assisted. The castle has lots of its ishigaki left along with most of its water moats intact. The about-to-be-released Japanese film called “Katen no Shiro” (火天の城) had a few of its scenes filmed at Sasayama Castle. One thing about the stones at Sasayama Castle which stood out is that it has a huge variety of symbols carved on some of them because around 20 lords or so were encouraged by Tokugawa Ieyasu to fund the building of this castle. The original samurai homes are a huge plus when it comes to visiting this quiet castle town. Here is some information that I picked up from the “Aoyama Historical Residence”, one of the samurai houses that I visited. The brochure (only in Japanese) states that there were 14 Lords of Sasayama Castle. The first eight, from 1609 to (presumably 1748) were held by the Matsudairas. From 1748 until the Meji Restoration, it had six Aoyama lords. The brochure only says when the lords began their reign at the castle. The first Aoyama lordship started in 1748, so I have made the assumption that the Matsudaira Clan ruled until the changeover in 1748. The castle was built in 1609, and I think torn down in 1871, so that means the Matsudaira Clan ruled it for 139 years and the Aoyama Clan ruled it for 123 years, almost a fifty-fifty split between the two clans.
  • Anonymous    May 23, 2009 at 05:27 PM
    Just to let you know, the castle was primarily held by the Aoyama clan during the Edo period, not the Matsudaira.
  • MM    March 17, 2008 at 03:28 AM
    By "no original buildings stand", I meant in the castle, not the town (see below comment).
  • MM    March 17, 2008 at 03:28 AM
    By "no original buildings stand", I meant in the castle, not the town (see below comment).
  • MM    March 17, 2008 at 03:26 AM
    A perfect setting. The town is great, unluckily no original buildings stand. However, the Honmaru palace has been reconstructed.
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Sasayama, Hyogo Pref.
Sasayama Castle views
Osyoin Palace Outer moat, Osyoin Palace
North and East Moats West moat
South edge of the castle Reconstruction model with Umadashi gate