Matsuyama may seem like an unlikely tourist destination, but even though you need to make a trip all the way to Shikoku, it is very much worth the effort! Matsuyama-jo (jo means castle in Japanese) is just one of the many things Matsuyama has to offer. This castle doesn’t only give you a spectacular look inside a Japanese feudal castle but also boasts an amazing view of the city and nearby sea.
Matsuyama Castle is one of the only 12 remaining original Japanese castles. This does not mean that there are only twelve castles in Japan, but these twelve are special because they have remained intact during the post-feudal era. Many castles have been bombed, caught fire, destroyed by natural disasters like earthquake, and so on since the Meiji Era starting in 1868. Matsuyama Castle has remained intact, so the buildings you can enter and view today are the same as they were almost 200 years ago.
Apart from being one of the twelve remaining feudal castles, Matsuyama Castle has another great asset: it is the only original mountaintop castle in Japan. The other original castles are either on low hilltops or flat plains. Matsuyama Castle sits on top of a small mountain in the middle of Matsuyama city. Not only can you see the castle from most places in the city, the view from the castle looking down onto Matsuyama and the nearby sea is nothing short of breathtaking.
There are a couple of ways to get up to the castle itself. Of course you can hike up the mountain, it certainly would help you burn your calories for the day, and its free to boot! The other two options are of the more mechanical kind, one being a trolley car and the other a chair lift. The price for the chairlift and the trolley car is the same, so you can take one on the way up, and the other on the way down if you want to try both.
You can go up to the same level as the castle without going inside the castle as well, just the view of the surrounding area is already truly spectacular. However, when you made it all the way here it would be a waste not to enter the castle as well, it’s well worth the entrance fee. There is a small museum inside with artefacts, and the history of the castle is explained as well. The cherry on top of the experience is to go to the top level of the castle. Not only can you see the surrounding area, you can also see the other buildings of the castle below. Pictures can only show so much of the magic, the real view is far more amazing than any picture could show.
If you find yourself on Shikoku island, Matsuyama and Matsuyama Castle will make for a perfect day trip! Whether you want a taste of historical Japan, a view of a mountainous Japan or just a magical experience, Matsuyama Castle is the place to go.