A city with great history.
Matsuyama (松山) is the largest city on Shikoku and the capital of Ehime Prefecture. At the heart of the city stands Matsuyama castle, a beautiful, original castle. The castle's hilltop vantage point offers a view of the city and a glimpse of the Seto Inland Sea. The city is also famed for being the setting of Natsume Soseki's popular novel, entitled "Botchan". Often read as part of the Japanese school curriculum, the novel describes Matsuyama during the turbulent Meiji Restoration. Natsume's novel helped make the city renowned throughout Japan. Dogo Onsen is frequently mentioned in "Botchan" and is one of Matsuyama's main tourist attractions. Located on the northeastern outskirts of the city, Dogo Onsen is one of Japan's oldest hot spring resorts.
Matsuyama Castle (松山城, Matsuyamajō) is one of Japan's twelve "original castles", i.e. castles which have survived the post-feudal era since 1868 intact. It is also one of the most complex and interesting castles in the country. It is located on Mount Katsuyama, a steep hill in the city center that provides visitors with a bird's eye view of Matsuyama and the Seto Inland Sea. There are about 200 cherry trees on the castle grounds, making this a lovely cherry blossom spot typically around late March to early April each year.
Matsuyama Castle was constructed between 1602 and 1628. In 1635, the castle got assigned to a branch of the Matsudaira family, relatives of the nation ruling Tokugawa, and it remained in their hands until the end of the feudal era. The current three-storied castle tower was constructed in 1820 after the original five storied one had been destroyed by lightning.
Matsuyama Castle provides an excellent example of a feudal castle. The main circle of defense (Honmaru) is located on the top of the hill, accessible through multiple, well-defended gates. The main keep is one of only a few in the country that boast multiple wings. The complex also includes a secondary keep and multiple turrets, giving Matsuyama Castle a grand appearance and making it interesting to explore. Inside the castle, some exhibits offer information on Matsuyama's history and the feudal period.
In spite of the castle's steep hilltop location, a ropeway and a chairlift make it easily accessible. Riding the single-chair chairlift is a pleasant and popular way to ascend Mount Katsuyama. Alternatively, it is possible to climb up the hill in about 15 minutes from the base of the ropeway station or from the Ninomaru Garden.
The Ninomaru Garden lies at the southern base of Mount Katsuyama and comprises the former site of the second circle of defense (Ninomaru). More comfortably accessible from the city than the main circle of defense (Honmaru) at the top of the mountain, the Ninomaru served as the site of the castle palace where the lord's residence and offices were located.
None of the palace buildings survive today. Instead, the Ninomaru has been converted into a park that preserves the floor plan and layout of the former castle palace with elevated foundations, green spaces, and ponds.
Matsuyama Castle in the center of Matsuyama on top of a mountain and can be accessed by ropeway or chairlift.
You can reach the ropeway by taking a tram that stops in front of Okaido, a covered shopping arcade area.
Okaido can be reached by tram line 5 from JR Matsuyama Station (10 minutes, 160 yen) or by tram line 2 or 3 from Matsuyama-shi Station (5 minutes, 160 yen).How to get to and around Matsuyama
HOURS 9:00 to 17:00 (until 16:30 in December and January; until 17:30 in August); admission ends 30 minutes before closing time.
CLOSED Third Wednesday of December
FEES 510 yen
HOURS 9:00 to 17:00 (until 16:30 in December and January; until 17:30 in August)
CLOSED Third Wednesday of December
FEES 200 yen
HOURS Ropeway: 8:30 to 17:30 (until 17:00 in Dec and Jan; until 18:00 in Aug)Chairlift: 8:30 to 17:00 (around the year)
CLOSED No closing days
FEES 510 yen (round trip), 270 yen (one way)