This time, we would like to introduce you to the two castles of Matsuyama.
One of them is in Ehime prefecture (Iyo Matsuyama)...
and the other one is in Okayama prefecture (Bicchū Matsuyama).
Having the same name, they have been dubbed a different title, with the former being called the Iyo Matsuyama castle and the latter Bicchū Matsuyama castle.
Long time ago, Iyo was the name of the Ehime prefecture, while Bicchū was the name of Okayama prefecture. Both castles are a part of the 12 existing castle towers, the precious legacy of Japan. What links them is not only the name, but also the fact that they were both built up on the top of the mountain.
Iyo Matsuyama sits in the very middle of the city of Matsuyama, on a top of the Katsuyama mountain, overlooking the city. If you start at the base of the Katsuyama mountain, you can climb it by foot, but we would suggest taking a cable car or a lift to the top.
From the castle on the top of the mountain, on a clear day, if you look towards the south, you will be able to see the Shikoku mountainous area, and looking towards the north will reward you with an amazing view of the Seto Inland Sea.
In the city of Matsuyama, there is also what is said to be the oldest onsen (hot springs) in Japan, so the two combined (the castle and the onsen), makes this area the representative tourist attraction of the Shikoku archipelago.
The other Matsuyama castle, Bicchū Matsuyama of Okayama prefecture, is located on a part of 400m high mountain that goes by the name of Gagyū mountain. In the previously mentioned list of the 12 existing castle towers, the castle of Bicchū Matsuyama is probably the most difficult to climb. Since it’s not possible to go to the top of the mountain following the road made for cars, you will have to stop somewhere in the middle of the mountain and climb it by foot for about 30 or 40 minutes up to the top.
Good things do not come without an effort. Having the opportunity to experience the magnificent view from the top of the mountain that you’ve climbed with your own strength makes it all more worthwhile, doesn’t it?
While the Himeji castle and the Matsumoto castle are known even outside of Japan, there is still a great number of beautiful castles in Japan that might not be as visited, brimming with personality, and waiting for you to discover them.