Matsuyama Castle – Japan’s Best Castle

by Mike Still
Matsuyama Castle – Japan’s Best Castle

Matsuyama Castle was voted as Japan’s 2nd best castle by Trip Advisor in 2014 and my recent visit confirms that its still awesome!  I flew into Matsuyama to meet my college buddy Andrew who’s been teaching in Japan for the last 4 years.  Matsuyama boasts to be the oldest original castle in Japan with original construction beginning in 1603.

Getting to Matsuyama Castle

Go to Matsuyama and then head to Okaido near Dogo Onsen

Hike to the Main Gate510 yen entrance fee (this is only for entering the main keep)

Cable Car 1020 yen round trip (Includes entrance fee)

Chair Lift – 1020 yen round trip (Includes entrance fee)

The castle has been upgraded and rebuilt few times over the last 4 centuries.  Starting in 1603 it was first completed in 1627  It burned down after being struck by lightning and was rebuilt in 1854.  Matsuyama Castle is one of 12 original castles left in Japan after many of them were purged at the end of the Feudal Age in 1868.

Japan’s Oldest Castle

The layout is incredibly strategic with multiple gates and choke points to fend off intruders.   At the top you’ll find a spectacular panoramic view of the surrounding city, hills and islands.  On a clear day you can even see all the way to mainland Japan!

Its optional to pay the 510 yen to enter the main keep but I think its well worth it.  Once inside you’ll find a few displays of samurai swords, outfits and medieval weaponry.  There are plenty of English signs detailing the history of the castle and the region and even a chance for you to try on a samurai outfit!  You will need to take off your shoes and wear public slippers though so make sure you plan accordingly.

Do you love Samurai?  Then you’ll want to read about the best Japanese samurai movies!

I visited Matsuyama late December and happily discovered that the fall colors were still lingering.   The region is quite mild and rarely gets snow so anytime of year will be enjoyable to visit.  If you can time it right the castle grounds are covered in cherry trees and I’m sure it would be stunning to see with cherry blossoms!


Looking for another off the beaten path Japanese destination?  Check out the Share Hotels Kanazawa!

Matsuyama Castle – Japan’s Best Castles by @LiveTravelTeach

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Mike Still
Mike is a travel enthusiast, photographer and teacher. He loves adventure travel, meeting the locals and exploring new culture. As an outdoor enthusiast you can often find him hiking mountains or exploring forests trying to capture the beauty of mother nature. In 2013 he founded as he left his home in America and has been teaching or traveling around the world ever since!

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Lisa December 30, 2016 - 10:01 pm

Funny, I was just watching something on this. This looks like a fabulous place to visit. Love all the history. Thanks for sharing and I will pin this for a future visit.

Mike Still January 1, 2017 - 6:24 pm

Glad you enjoyed the info Lisa.

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[…] Matsuyama Andrew and I drove through Kochi to pick up his buddy David (a Welshman) before driving north to […]

Melvi January 28, 2020 - 7:50 pm

Good day! Mr Mike Still thank you very much! I learned about the History of Matsuyama Castle…….so very interesting about the history of matsuya castle…… God bless you always….