Matsumae Castle 松前城
main keep
Picture Donated by Kristy D.
Founder Matsumae Takahiro
Year 1849
Type Flatland
Condition Reconstructed
Alternate Name Fukuyama-jo
Reconstructed 1959 (concrete)
Structure 3 levels, 3 stories
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles, Important Cultural Properties
Historical Artifacts Important Cultural Properties:
Honmaru Gomon
Location Matsumae, Hokkaido
Map Google Map
Access Kikonai Sta. (Esashi Line), 1.5 hr. by Hakodate bus; Hakodate Sta (Hakodate Line), 3 hr. bus
Website Guide of Sightseeing in Matsumae
Notes not personally visited. All pictures donated by Vic A.

In 1849 the The Tokugawa government commanded Matsumae Takahiro to build a castle to enhance the defenses of the area. It was completed in 1854. The location of Matsumae Castle on the Southwesternmost tip of Hokkaido was a vital point for controlling the passage between Hokkaido and Honshu. At the time, the Matsumae did not have the funds to build a new castle at Mt. Hakodate, the recommended site, so they decided to fortify the home of Matsumae Takahiro at Fukuyama instead.

During the Boshin War in 1868, the remnants of the Tokugawa Government that took control of Goryokaku in Hakodate also attacked and defeated Matsumae Castle.

In 1941, the main keep was designated a National Treasure, but it burned down in a fire that spread from the town hall in 1949. It was rebuilt in 1959. Matsumae Castle is considered to be the last of the traditional Japanese castles.

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Comment on this castle
  • rebolforces    April 12, 2017 at 09:46 PM
    The reportedly 10,000 thousand cherry trees of 250 varieties would be spectacular when in flower. They were well signed with images & history of the varieties. Unfortunately not in bloom for me. The castle itself is a small concrete reconstruction, with a small museum inside. Bus runs about every 2 hours to/from Kikonai (Bustop #1) current cost was 1250yen. There are JR & also non-jr (Isarabi) trains between Kikonai & Hakodate. Hakodate Tourism information at station can give you a schedule with which services train/bus line up for transfers. If you are willing to catch the 7:04 local Isarabi train (1150yen) from Hakodate to Kikonai (arrive 8:04) and bus (depart 9:05 from stop #1) you can be there by 10:34am. Otherwise there is 10:38 bus from Hakodate (stop #6) that will get you there at 13:39pm . (Last option to return is a bus/train combo leaving Matsue at 18:10 arriving Kikonai 19:39 & train dep. to Hakodate at 20:21 arrives Hakodate at 21:25pm)
  • furinkazan on My Page    May 22, 2015 at 06:59 PM
    This morning i went to this castle. From Hakodate to Kikonai with the train and then with the bus to Matsumae. For the train i have the JR-PASS and one way drive with the bus is 1250¥. The honmaru gomon and the reconstructed gates are nice but the tenshukaku being in concrete is a let down. I went to several other sites in the city. I'm certain that the place must be very beautiful with the sakura in full bloom. There are some very special specimens in the castle park.
  • Anonymous    December 03, 2013 at 12:59 AM
    I will be staying at Onsen Ryokan Yano, near to the castle from 16-20 Dec. Is read somewhere there is a straight bus from Hakodate Airport? Looking at the weather forecast, there will intermittent snow. I am not sure if it will be ok to jog then aroud the area. Please advise. Thank you.
  • Anonymous    September 24, 2012 at 09:05 AM
    I took the train from Hakodate to Kikonai and then took a local bus to Matsumae. This is a delightful little castle: definitely worth the trip. The area behind the castle contains a variety of fascinating temples and cemeteries.
  • Frank T. on My Page    September 21, 2011 at 11:41 AM
    This is the only traditional Japanese castle in all of Hokkaido, but not easy to get to without private transportation. The road from Hakodate can be long and winding if there's traffic since there's no way to pass. Otherwise, the coast road is not bad. Matsumae is a nice little town, but there's not much else this far down the coast.
  • Eric    July 27, 2011 at 11:54 PM
    Kris, thanks for your comments. I also updated the link.
  • Kris    July 26, 2011 at 10:37 PM
    By the way, the link is broken. Try Matsumae city had a very good English-language pamphlet too. I have photos of Matsumae keep, Honmaru gates, Karamete outer gate, Tenjinzaka gate and others if you would like.
  • SHS    July 05, 2011 at 10:40 PM
    Bad Reconstruction
  • john    June 21, 2010 at 06:24 AM
    Looks like they didn't do a good enough job on the reconstruction, on both exterior and interior.
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Matsumae, Hokkaido
Matsumae Castle views
main keep main keep
Karamete Gate
Karamete Gate Honmaru Gomon gate
Honmaru Gomon Gate Tenjinzaka Gate
moat and main keep Sannomaru Bailey
Outside the Karametemon Gate Matsumae Clan Mansion reconstruction
Honmaru Palace Entrance Map