History of Matsuyama Castle
Sights to See at Matsuyama Castle
Events at the Matsuyama Castle

Matsuyama Castle stands in the center of Ehime’s capital city, Matsuyama. It is designated as one of Japan’s 100 distinguished castles (日本の100名城) and as one of Japan’s 100 historic sights (美しい日本の歴史的風土100選). Locals and tourists honor this castle as a historic symbol of their town.

History of Matsuyama Castle

Matsuyama Castle was constructed by Kato Yoshiaki, a feudal lord between the Azuchi-momoyama period (1573 -1600) and the early Edo period (1603 – 1867), as a part of the ruling Tokugawa empire. Construction began in 1602 and took a whole 25 years to complete. Kato himself decided upon the name “Matsuyama” after moving to the area to oversee his castle construction.

Years after Kato’s death, the castle went under the hands of several different feaudal lords. Eventually it rolled into the palms of Matsudaira Sadayuki, also a Edo feudal lord.

The castle has undergone many natural disasters and wars, and has been rebuilt several times. The current castle tower was created during the 1850s.

Sights to see at Matsuyama Castle

Castle Tower – 天守

Built in the late Edo period, the castle tower is known as one of the Edo Period’s last castle architecture. It is designated as one of Japan’s 12 Original Castles, and is the only one out of the 12 with the Tokugawa family’s Aoi crest engraved into its tiles.

The builds of the castle tower, small castle tower and small corner towers (隅櫓; sumiyagura) are made in the Renritsushiki-tenshu style (連立式天守), meaning each of the towers are connected through a a corridor. The castle tower measures at 21 meters (including the grampus), and is located 160 meters above the ground.


Castle Tower

Stonewalls – 石垣

Stonewalls are a common sight as many Japanese castles, but the one surround Matsuyama Castle is rare even in Japan. It is constructed in the “nobori-ishigaki” (登り石垣) style, where two stone walls surround the castle, making for a difficult intrusion. You can find this unique stonewall in the southern side of the castle. The only other castle out of the 12 Original Castles with this style of stonewall is Hikone Castle in Shiga prefecture.



Ropeway and Lift

From the very bottom of the hill of the castle to the castle tower, you can ride a lift or a ropeway. The ropeway holds 47 passengers and is a 3 minute trip to the top while the single-rider lift takes 6 minutes. It’s almost like taking a ski lift up to the top of the castle. Using the ropeway and lift are great for a high-altitude castle like Matsuyama Castle.


Ropeways and Lifts

Matsuyama Castle Ninomaru Historical Garden – 松山城二之丸史跡庭園

On the southwestern area of the castle is Matsuyama Castle Ninomaru Historical Garden. The garden is greatly divided into 2 parts: the frontal palace (表御殿; omote-goten) and the inner palace (奥御殿; oku-goten).

The frontal palace has a citrus and flower garden, and collects citruses from all over Japan. It places in the northern portion of the garden.

The inner palace is in the western side of the garden. It has an area reminiscing floor plans from the Edo period, Ryusui-en (流水園), and an area with waterfalls and carefully placed rocks, Rinsen-tei (林泉庭).



There are countless historical ruins throughout the gardens, like wells, scaffolds and tearooms. The garden is known to be floral and photogenic and is popular for wedding photo shoots.

Shiroyama Park Horinouchi Area – 城山公園堀之内地区

The square in front of Matsuyama Castle was completed around 1605, and is now used as a city park. The area was once a bustling city, with around 60 lords residing in the area. On its southern and western borders, you can still see the moats from those days. After being operated by the military during the Meiji era (1868 – 1912), it was turned into a public park, and currently houses a citizen’s hall, the Museum of Art, Ehime and a NHK broadcasting center.


Yoshiaki-kun – よしあきくん

To commemorate the 400th anniversary of Matsuyama Castle’s construction, Matsuyama celebrated with the birth of Yoshiaki-kun, the city’s official mascot. Named after the feudal lord Kato Yoshiaki, Yoshiaki-kun sports a cute little beard and enjoys taking walks, but also possesses shogun-like skills of javelin throwing. On a lucky day, you might find him strolling around a park. Don’t hesitate to ask him for a photo!

Events at the Matsuyama Castle

Matsuyama Spring Festival (Castle Festival) – 松山春まつり(お城祭り)(Apr.)

Join Matsuyama locals at this festival to welcome spring! You can enjoy traditional Japanese customs such as tea ceremonies and ikebana (flower arranging), or have fun with events like singing contests and baseball games. You can also find people dressed like feudal lords walking around the city.


Matsuyama Spring Festival

Matsuyama Festival – 松山祭り (Aug.)

Matsuyama Festival started in 1966, with the city’s efforts to start and popularize a dance originating in Matsuyama. The dances, called Yakyu-ken Dance and Yakyu-samba, are based on yakyu (baseball in Japanese). In particular, the samba is a fun sight, with people walking around town in flashy fun costumes.


View from the Castle Tower

Matsuyama Castle looking over the town

With the location at 160 meters above ground, you can see a spectacular view from the top. The night view is definitely beautiful, however, the distance that you can see on sunny days is truly breathtaking. Spreading your legs out in a hot onsen after a long day of walking with the view of Matsuyama Castle in the background does not sound too bad.

Superb View from the Observatory Level

Pemandangan dari Tenshu


Nearest Stations: Iyotetsu Okaido Station

From JR Matsuyama Station 松山駅

【Matsuyama Sta.】about a 3-minute walk
→【Matsuyama Ekimae Sta.】Iyotetsu No.5 / for Dogo Onsen
→【Okaido Sta.】 → about a 5-minute walk to the Ropeway station

From Matsuyama City Statation 松山市駅

【Matsuyama City Sta.】Iyotetsu No.3 / for Dogo Onsen
→【Okaido Sta.】 → about a 5-minute walk to the Ropeway station

From Matsuyama Airport 松山空港

【Matsuyama Airport】Iyotetsu Limousine Bus / for Dogo Onsen
→【Okaido Sta.】 → about a 5-minute walk to the Ropeway station


Marunouchi 1, Matsuyama-shi, Ehime
9:00a.m. - 5:00p.m.
(Last admission: 4:30p.m.)
※Varies by season
Third Wednesday of December
Adults: ¥510
Elementary school students: ¥150

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