Sunday, October 2, 2016

Shikoku Autumn 2014 四国秋季之旅 - Matsuyama Castle 松山城

Visited 21.11.2014 (Fri)
Number of castles visited to date: 3
Top 100 castles in Japan: #81

Majestic. Visited two castles during my stay in Shikoku - Matsuyama Castle and Kochi Castle. Matsuyama Castle is built on the summit of Katsuyama, at an elevation of 132 m above grade. Alongside Kochi Castle, it is one of the twelve castles which still has its original castle keep/tenshukaku retained. Located at sufficiently high altitude, the aerial view of Matsuyama city captured from the observatory deck of tenshukaku is a beautiful scene to behold. Despite its location on a mountain, visitors can gain access to Matsuyama Castle effortlessly via ropeway or chair lift. In fact, the majestic looking tenshukaku can also be distinctly identified even when standing at ground level in different parts of Matsuyama city. The Honmaru 本丸 site is open to public as a park, while additional fees apply for visitors entering tenshukaku.

Side note. Do take note that there are two castles with the same name in Japan. This castle is also known as Iyo Matsuyama Castle 伊予松山城, in which Iyo was the former name for Ehime Prefecture. The other one is usually referred to as Bicchu Matsuyama Castle 備中松山城 and is located in Takahashi city 高梁市, Okayama Prefecture.

Many volunteers (all kids) were stationed at the entrance who tagged along with the visitors to explain the various features of the castle. Felt that this was a good way for the younger generation to understand / better relate to their country's history. 

Background / Highlights:

- Castle began construction in 1602 and was completed in 1627.

- What is unique about this castle is there are two tenshukaku, the main and another smaller one. The main tenshukaku, which is three storey high, was struck by lightning and burnt down on New Year's Day in 1784. Reconstruction of the present structure begun in 1820 and was completed 35 years later in 1854. The smaller tenshukaku, which is standing on the left of the main gate, is the defense turret of the castle front. Its name came about because it is the second most important turret after the main tenshukaku.

- In 1933, the smaller tenshukaku, north and south corner turrets were destroyed by arson. They were eventually rebuilt with wood in 1968. Along the way till 1990, former turrets and gates were also rebuilt. In 2006, conservation and repair works for seven structures including the tenshukaku were completed.

Taiko Yagura / Turret 太鼓櫓, standing on the west point of the stone wall, is the first tall structure which appeared within sight upon entering the compound of the castle. This was rebuilt using wood in 1973. The main tenshukaku can also be spotted in the background.
Tonashi-mon 戸無門, translates to doorless gate. The design is believed to be a tactical approach to allow enemies to go through this gate easily (thinking that the defense was weak) and attack the following gates where troops were already standing by to counterattack. 
The main tenshukaku of Matsuyama Castle.

The spacious public park residing in Honmaru is one of the best photo taking spot to capture an overview of the main tenshukaku and its surrounding structure. The smaller tenshukaku is the one standing on the left side of the main tenshukaku.
Look at how beautiful the view is, seen from tenshukaku facing to the South. The castle looked as if it has risen above the clouds, highlighting its superiority to the rest of the buildings on the flat plain.
View from tenshukaku facing North.
View from tenshukau facing West.
Not forgetting to grab a mikan flavoured soft serve just before we departed from the summit.

Matsuyama Castle 松山城
〒790-0004 愛媛県松山市大街道3丁目2-46
Operating hours for castle keep/tenshukaku:
- Feb to Jul; Sep to Nov: 0900 - 1700 hrs
- Aug: 0900 - 1700 hrs
- Dec to Jan: 0900 - 1630 hrs
Admission fee = 510 yen

How to get there? 

(1) Iyo Tetsu streetcar 伊予鉄道市内電車
From Matsuyama JR Station, board streetcar bound for Dogo Onsen 道後温泉 (Route 5) and alight at Okaido 大街道. Approx 5 minutes walk from streetcar station to ropeway/chairlift station.
Fare = 160 yen/trip
1 Day Pass = 600 yen

(2) Ropeway / lift ロープウェイ・リフト
As mentioned previously, this is the most convenient way to get to the summit of Katsuyama where Matsuyama Castle is situated. Visitors can choose to take either the ropeway or chairlift. Personally, I will recommend the chairlift over ropeway as the mode of transportation, especially for the ascend route. Along the uphill journey, passengers can already catch a glimpse of the tenshukaku of Matsuyama Castle. The feeling of riding through air, surrounded by greenery and without a physical barrier (like a carriage) is rather amazing as well! For those fearful of heights or hate the feeling of legs hanging in the air, the ropeway may be a better option as the duration for the ride is shorter (3 mins vs 6 mins by lift).
- Round trip = 510 yen; One way = 270 yen
- Round trip + Entrance ticket to tenshukaku = 1,020 yen


Commemorative stamps:


Video: Matsuyama Castle was featured in Taiwan produced travelogue program 玩乐志.

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