Bitchu Matsuyama Castle




Bitchu Matsuyama Castle is well know as being the highest altitude castle in Japan at 480 meters. This was viewed as a strategic location was also viewed as valuable territory for a castle. Akiba Shigenobu built the first castle on a nearby mountain in 1240. In 1331 Takahashi Muneyasu built the first Matsuyama Castle on this site. The main keep and yagura you see today were built by Mizunoya in 1683. This was one of very few 2 level main keep, but being on top of the mountain, there was little need to build a high vantage point. After the Mizunoya there were several different lords until Itakura Katsuyoshi in 1744. His descendents continued to rule until the Meiji restoration.

Visit Notes

Bitchu Matsuyama is a fairly small castle with only a few buildings, but the great stone walls and views make this 5 Stars. I took the taxi to the parking lot near the castle but walked back down. The mountain is fairly steep so I would recommend walking back rather than up.

Loading map...

  • main keep and honmaru gate
  • main keep
  • main keep and honmaru compound
  • foundation of the former Naka Taiko Yagura
  • Otemon Stone Walls
  • Stone walls
  • Stone walls of the Otemon Gate, Sannomaru Bailey and Umaya Bailey.
  • Path to the Ninomaru
  • Ruins of the Otemon Gate
  • Stone walls of the Umaya Bailey
  • Stone walls of the Umaya Bailey
  • Honmaru Bailey
  • East Gate
  • main keep interior
  • Inside the main keep
  • ruins of the Karamete Gate
  • original 2 level yagura
  • 2 level yagura foundation
  • North Gate
  • East Gate and Honmaru stone walls
  • map

Castle Profile
English Name Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
Japanese Name 備中松山城
Alternate Names Takahashi Castle
Founder Mizunoya Sakyonosuke Katsumune
Year Founded 1683
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Original main keep
Designations Top 100 Castles, has Important Cultural Properties, Top 100 Mountaintop Castles, National Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Main Keep Structure 2 levels, 2 stories
Artifacts tenshu, Nijuu Yagura, San no Hirayagura East Wall
Features main keep, gates, turrets, samurai homes, trenches, stone walls, walls, castle town
Visitor Information
Access Bitchu Takahashi Station (Hakubi Line); 1260 taxi
Visitor Information Open 9-17:30 (April-Sept); 9-16:30 (Oct-Mar)
Time Required 120 mins
Website id=1
Location Takahashi, Okayama Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 48' 32.08" N, 133° 37' 19.88" E
Loading map...
Added to Jcastle 2004
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 2010
Admin Visits November 20, 2010
Friends of JCastle
Malcolm Fairman Photography - Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
Nearby Samurai Homes
(32 votes)
Add your comment welcomes all comments. If you do not want to be anonymous, register or log in. It is free.


Matthew WardGunshi

10 months ago
Score 1++

I really need to visit this one again. I went there about 15 years ago, I think (maybe even longer ago), and what I remember most is that by the time I got to the mountaintop, I was absolutely drenched in sweat. It's a stiff and hot walk in the summer!

As for the castle, I remember it being quite nice and authentic, but slightly underwhelming due to its small size. The ishigaki were probably the best part. But now, with my ability to appreciate Japanese castles having been enhanced a great deal, I'd probably enjoy it much more, especially with the castle town buildings (which I passed by but didn't enter due to not having a lot of time).

The one thing I can say is that this site probably required a full day to properly appreciate, unless you happen to be staying in town and can get up early,


10 months ago
Score 1++
There's lots of ruins at 'at the back' that people miss, so check them out the next time you go.


76 months ago
Score 1++
If you carry on past the tenshu area you will find a bridge spanning a trench with ishigaki remains. A map I saw indicated that the ruins extended further up the mountain so I went onto a subsequent bailey (Aihatanokidoato) where there were trace amounts of ishigaki and what was I think a former well. Multiple baileys then climb the mountain ridge ending at Tenjinnomaru bailey, but I did not proceed this far. The same map also indicated a Oh-Matsuyama Castle Ruin, a separate ruin on another part of the mountain, an older fortification I gather. On the way to the castle in the cab I noticed huge stone walls which could only be castle related and so on the walk back into town I stopped by here. This is the 『御根小屋』, an administrative area at the foot of the castle. The walls here are quite impressive so I think it's worth stopping by. Next I proceeded onto the Bukeyashiki. On the way back to the station I stopped by the Takahashi City Library. It's a very trendy building with a starbucks coffee. I went in just to get views of the surrounding town. A temple-shrine complex on the otherside of the station also has impressive, terraced, old-looking ishigaki, but I didn't have time to investigate further. If you make the effort to get out here you can at least spend a lot of time in the town, maybe even the whole day.


81 months ago
Score 2++

Visited this castle in September 2017, making it number 10 on my list of original tenshukaku I have had the pleasure of seeing (only the two in Ehime I have yet to visit). This castle is definitely one of my favourites. The 'entrance' with the ruins of the ootemon gate and other towering stone walls is nothing short of spectacular. It's also a quiet site, I saw maybe twenty other visitors in total during the two hours I spent there.

The best view of the original yagura is from the back side (outside of the paid area), where you can clearly see it's built on top of ishigaki on top of natural rock. Another visitor told me the stones for the walls were sourced from this mountain itself.

If you're reasonably fit and the weather isn't too hot and humid, it's perfectly possible to walk to the castle. For people who still don't feel like doing that: there's also a taxi that you can reserve (at fixed times) that's much cheaper than a regular taxi ride.

I also visited the site of Oomatsuyama-jou. There was very little to see, though, so I didn't really care for it and wouldn't really recommend going there. RaymondW is absolutely right, the mosquitoes there are terrible. They were pretty much swarming around me, following me wherever I went.

About reasons to stay longer: there are two bukeyashiki you can enter and there's a temple called Raikyuu-ji with a dry landscape garden (karesansui) designed by the famous Kobori Enshuu, who was also involved in the construction of the castle. There is also a scenic street with two small shinto shrines, both of them built on top of a bridge over a river.


95 months ago
Score 0++
Visited on 6 September 2016. Very difficult castle to get to but worth the effort if you want to visit a very well preserved and terrific specimen of a Japanese castle. However disappointed that the city of Takahashi did not do more to promote the castle. As a typical tourist it was comparatively hard to find a route to and from the castle. Also, as a typical tourist, I was looking out for typical tourist traps like souvenirs from where I could fish for memories of my hard trek. There isn't any remotely near the castle or even in the town below. In fact there isn't even a decent rest stop on the journey up to or down from the castle where one can catch a refresher, not even in the town below. Maybe that is a good thing as it preserves the overall integrity of the site but I couldn't help wanting more of a reason to stay longer than I did.


103 months ago
Score 1++
Such a wonderful site, and no photo can ever do it justice. I loved the feeling of complete surprise, going up that mountain and finding that castle there. A real gem, but probably the most inconvenient I've ever been to.


121 months ago
Score 0++
I visited this castle again with my wife last weekend. Since it was a sauna-like 37C day in Bitchu-Takahashi, we decided to take the taxi up to the carpark halfway up the mountain from JR Bitchu-Takahashi Station (1,270 yen going up and 1,760yen back to the train station, which included a 500yen call-out fee). It was my wife’s first visit to this castle, and she commented that in some ways, it reminded her of Iwamura Castle, another mountaintop castle in Gifu Prefecture. This time round, I was able to visit the “back part” of this castle. If you go past the two-storey yagura and through the Mizunote Gate Ruin down the hill, there is the Bansho Bailey, which is linked by a wooden bridge and has stone walls on two sides of the bailey. Further along the trail from the Bansho Bailey is a set of terraced baileys called the Aihatakekido Ruins, but it would be more aptly named “Mosquito Terraces” in summer. The whole area was swarming with mozzies, and we were bitten a number of times despite having insect repellent on. Aihatakekido has some terraced baileys with ishigaki (stone walls), and they lead uphill to the Tenjin Baileys, an outlying fort ruin on top of Mount Gagyu. This had formed part of Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle’s northern defences. Another 200 metres pass the Tenjin Baileys is a small stone-lined reservoir called the Ooike, which translates as Big Pond. Overlooking this pond is a much older mountaintop castle ruin called Oomatsuyama Castle, built in 1240. There isn’t much left to see here apart from a disused well and some earthwork remnants including several ditches dividing the baileys and earthen ramparts forming the sides of the baileys. Despite the lack of surviving structures, it is worth spending an extra hour or so checking out all these ruins, which had protected the northern approaches to Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle.


124 months ago
Score 0++

Visited 03 April 2013. Small, and not the easiest place to reach on foot, but for all that still one of my favourite castles in Japan. The fortifications are simply impressive; makes one wonder how anyone could have possibly taken the castle by force if this were ever attempted. Nice attractions in the old castle town as well. pretty much a complete package and a good day tour option from Okayama (especially for JR Pass users).



149 months ago
Score 0++
I went today to this castle. Really a nice castle to go, even with bad weather, like i had. The castIe was surrounded by a cloud and from time to time i had to wait that the wind blowed a little bit to take a photo. I took a taxi up to the castle(1250yen). I didn't go to the ruins behind the castle, because the paths were too muddy and slippery. When i wanted to walk back, it was really heavily downpouring. I was actually fortune. A visitor(i saw 4 on the site) asked me where i was heading. He took me to the bukeyashiki, where i started a walk at the Old Orii residence to end at the Shorinji. The Orii home has very nice buildings with the one in the backyard having some arms and armors on display. This little town is a 'must go'.


151 months ago
Score 0++
Really cool. Definitely worth the hike

Frank T.Gunshi

156 months ago
Score 0++
This site is not as convenient as most of the other original castle sites, but it's worth a visit because of that. It was not at all crowded either time I visited. In fact, there were few other people. From that point of view, I would rather go to sites like this than the more popular ones that get the crowds.


161 months ago
Score 0++
I went to this castle in the afternoon after going to Kinojo Castle earlier in the day. You can get in both Kinojo and Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle in one day, but you will have to either have a folding bike or use the taxi. Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle is a very nice castle to visit. It’s remote location and a lack of visitor means that you can really enjoy this little original castle in peace and quiet. When I went in March, part of the back section was still closed and so was the trail up to the Ohmatsu Castle Ruin (大松城跡) a further 500m or so up the trail.

Anonymous user #1

166 months ago
Score 0++
This is the castle I simply fell in love with at first site. Great placement, good job done on the reconstruction department, and not so crowded with visitors, which makes a plus when you go there on some hot August day like me. Maybe, not so grand-looking like some of the bigger castles, but thanks to the height of the mountain, it gives a feeling of transferring to the old times and some kind of isolation from the outer world. Which is a good thing for an modern urban dweller, I think. Also, on my way back I took the footpath that meanders through the mountain forest instead of a taxi ride, and I think it adds immensly to the whole experience. So if you have time, I would recommend to take it as a must-do :) You'll be literally one with nature, just watch your steps!


194 months ago
Score 0++

This castle rocks. I was there around noon on a weekday in August, and I had the whole castle to myself for about 20 minutes before another two more visitors turned up.

I went there from the Kansai area using the Japan Rail Seishun 18 (special discounted tickets on sale during the school holidays in early spring and summer)

Bitchu-Takahashi Station on the JR Hakubi Line is about 52 minutes from Okayama Station via Kurashiki. I took a taxi from the station to the parking lot. It cost 1,250yen. On the return trip, I walked back down the hill to the station. It took around 50 minutes from the castle to get back to the station.

Just a tip, I noticed that most few visitors just go to up the main castle keep, pop inside and then leave. Don't forget to walk around the back and suss out the rest of the fortifications.