Tatsuno Castle

From Jcastle.info



Tatsuno Castle is actually made up of the mountaintop castle that sits atop Mt. Keirozan and the castle at the base of the mountain. The mountaintop castle was constructed around 500 years ago by Akamatsu Murahide and was controlled by four generations of the Akamatsu. In 1577, the Akamatsu turned over this castle to Hideyoshi who had conquered the Chugoku region. At this point, a new castle was constructed at the base of the mountain as a subordinate castle to Himeji Castle.

Until Wakisaka Yasumasa became lord of the castle in 1672, it changed hands several times leading to the degredation of both the castle and the surrounding castle town. The castle and town were reinvigorated under Wakisaka where his descendents continued to rule over the region until the Meiji Period. The famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi trained at Enkoji Temple and taught his disciples here in Tatsuno. The current Honmaru Palace, gates and yagura are wooden reconstructions.

Situated just 15km from Himeji in the Southwest of the Harima Region, Tatsuno has thrived since old days due its location near the Ibo River and convenient transportation. The town itself is rather small, but as you walk the narrow streets among houses you can see old samurai homes and temples whle enjoying the historic atmosphere. It has also been called the "little Kyoto" of Harima.

Visit Notes

I was very surprised at the extensive remains around the mountaintop. It is an easy hike and well worth the time for castle fans. There are many terraced baileys up through the Otemichi to the honmaru. The hiking path may be a bit difficult to find. Look for the wooden box on a post with maps inside. It's around from the back and to the left of the palace near the koraimon gate.. Then you need to open and close the small gate next to the box of maps. You can also ask for directions and a map at the museum. Down the opposite side of the mountain on the way back you can also see the terraced remains of many samurai homes and gardens. It is probably very pretty in the fall for fall colors.

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  • Yaguramon gate
  • Yaguramon/Uzumimon Gate
  • stone walls
  • yaguramon/uzumimonn
  • Koraimon
  • koraimon
  • corner yagura
  • clay walls and slope from the castle
  • Honmaru palace
  • honmaru palace
  • honmaru palace
  • Otemichi
  • Ninomaru bailey
  • bailey
  • stone wall remains
  • bailey
  • honmaru bailey
  • stone wall remains of the honmaru
  • Stone pathway
  • bailey
  • Bailey around the honmaru
  • stone stairs
  • remains of samurai residences
  • stone wall around the residential area
  • residential area path
  • terraced gardens
  • stone wall
  • map
  • the castle is on top this mountain

Castle Profile
English Name Tatsuno Castle
Japanese Name 龍野城
Alternate Names Asagiri-jo, Keirozan-jo
Founder Akamatsu Murahide
Year Founded 1499
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Historical Period Edo Period
Features gates, turrets, palace, trenches, stone walls, walls, castle town
Visitor Information
Access Hontatsuno Station ( Line), 20 min walk
Visitor Information open 8:30-17:00, closed Mondays, except holidays where the following day will be closed. Also closed occasionally for preparing special exhibits.
Time Required 60 mins for the buildings at the base of the mountain; 3hrs if you want to hike through the mountaintop castle remains
Website http://www.city.tatsuno.lg.jp/shoukoukanko/rekishi.html
Location Tatsuno, Hyogo Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 52' 7.50" N, 134° 32' 40.70" E
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Added to Jcastle 2004
Admin Year Visited 2012
Admin Visits October 7, 2012
Friends of JCastle
Malcolm Fairman Photography - Tatsuno Castle

(11 votes)
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74 months ago
Score 0++
Breaking news: i can report that the little box with maps inside is now metal not wood. I visited the 武家屋敷資料館 samurai house information center. It is itself a nice house and you can go in for free and take pictures. I walked past the samurai home remains and found a garden with tea houses. There is a big traditional house on site. It looks shut up but a sign says you can go in but to remember to shut it properly when you leave so cats don't go in. It says that. I went inside and it was gloomy but nice in that cosy aesthetic japan does so well. There is running water and I found a cupboard with futons. You could probably sleep there. Not recommending it, just an observation.


125 months ago
Score 0++
I went to this castle with some fellow castle fans recently. Scott’s recommendation about heading up the mountain (Mt. Keirou) behind the reconstructed Tatsuno Castle palace to see Old Tatsuno Castle is spot on. There are plenty of baileys to be seen. Some of them still have very clearly delineated earthen walls surrounding the bailey, particularly a couple of baileys located below the Ninomaru on the eastern side of the castle. A few of baileys still have sections of its stone walls mostly intact, but most of the bailey’s stone walls have long since disintegrated and rolled the hillside as a result of neglect since the it was decommissioned in 1871. On the western side of the castle, there are some wells to be seen, more stone wall ruins, and some clearly terraced baileys that had at one point in time had samurai homes built on them. I missed going up to the Old Tatsuno Castle on Mt Keirou back in 2009 and am glad that I did it on a re-visit last weekend. I second the recommendation on taking the trail up to see the old castle ruin. It has a lot more ruins to be seen compared to other yamajiros (mountaintop castles) that I have been to. If you take in Tatsuno Castle Ruin, the museum, and Old Tatsuno Castle Ruin up on Mt. Keirou, give yourself a good three hours to enjoy them once you are at Tatsuno Castle Ruin.


142 months ago
Score 0++
Thanks. It sounds like I should plan a whole day for Tatsuno.


142 months ago
Score 0++
Great! Thanks for the tips. I had heard about this before but did not have so much detail. I'll certainly take the path to the top.


163 months ago
Score 0++
Tatsuno Castle is about a 20-minute walk from JR Hon-Tatsuno Station, which is 20 minutes by local train from Himeji. There is a train every half an hour or so to and from Hon-Tatsuno Station. I was not expecting much at this castle, but I was pleasantly surprised. Apparently everything is reconstructed including a tamon gate, a corner turret, and the honmaru palace. The palace is very nicely decorated with some walls painted in gold and sliding doors painted with a dragon flying over water and land. The best thing about visiting smaller castles like Tatsuno is the lack of tourists. I was in the small honmaru palace with only a couple of other tourists. Unlike other bigger and more popular castles, I could take my time and thoroughly enjoy strolling though the place without the feeling of having to move on because there are people behind me. Entry is free, but the castle is closed on Mondays. The sleepy old town around the castle is also quite quaint with some period buildings and temples. There are plenty of cherry trees here, so in early spring, it is probably a great place to combine some cherry-blossom viewing and a castle visit.