Matsugasaki Castle (Yamashiro)

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Matsugasaki Castle appears in a few records from the 1500's but the exact origin is unknown. It was likely a satellite castle of the Yamamoto clan's castle network in Northern Kyoto centered around Iwakura. The Yamamoto came to the aid of Ashikaga Yoshiaki when he was besieged by Oda Nobunaga, but lost their lands. Matsugasaki Castle was likely abandoned at this time.

Visit Notes

Matsugasaki Castle is a satellite fortification situated on a small promontory with a fantastic view of Kyoto, Mt. Hiei, overlooking the roads into Northern Kyoto and naturally protected by the Takano River. Despite its small size (roughly 100m along the ridge) it has a most ideal position for helping to control northern Kyoto.

This is a very short and simple walk from Shugakuin Station. Shiroyama is covered in trails that are frequented by locals for good walking and light hiking. Some of them are hard to find and follow. The first trail I tried from the Daikokuten Temple (closest to Shugakuin Station) seemed to disappear and I ended up scrambling up the mountainside to reach the top well beyond where I was supposed to come up. It is probably easiest to take the well marked "A Course" from the Takaragaike Lake, which is about 20+ minutes walk from Shugakuin. Once at the top just keep following the ridge past the marked hiking trails to the end of the ridge. The last 100m or so is the castle ruin and you should be able to see some slight embankment and trench ruins that remain.

Despite very few ruins that only an experienced mountain castle go'er would likely recognize, the mountain is castle shiroyama, or "castle mountain". On the opposite side of the castle (left of the photos below) you will see a cleared open space. This is the famous 法 character that is light up as part of the O-bon "okuribi" festival. The 大 or "dai" character is most well known but there are actually 5 symbols on the mountains around Kyoto.

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  • dead end trail
  • Mt. Hiei

Castle Profile
English Name Matsugasaki Castle (Yamashiro)
Japanese Name 松ヶ崎城
Founder Yamamoto clan (?)
Year Founded 15th C.
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Visitor Information
Access Shugakuin Sta. (Eizan Railway); 25 mins walk
Visitor Information mountain trails, open any time
Time Required 20 mins
Location Kyoto, Kyoto
Coordinates 35° 3' 19.22" N, 135° 47' 18.92" E
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Added to Jcastle 2022
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 2021
Admin Visits October 23, 2021

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