A fortress revealed... via chairlift!
Matsuyama Castle is one of the better castles in Shikoku that is easily and uniquely accessible within Matsuyama City. To reach it, visitors can take a ropeway cable car, walk there or take a one-seater chairlift — the recommended and more exhilarating means of transport.
The castle has more than a few special features, so discovering the samurai cosplay, wandering in the surrounding grounds and climbing up to the many lookout points in the castle can take a few hours.
Journey back in time to Ehime Prefecture’s 17th-century wonder which has survived centuries of lightning, fires, arson and war. Matsuyama Castle is one of the 12 remaining castles built before the Edo Period, and various reconstruction work ensures its majestic perch on Katsuyama Hill. Get your cameras ready and experience the restored castle with its stone wall fortifications, turrets and gates.
On the grounds
The grounds have 21 structures including, the Tonashi Mon Gate and the hidden Kakure Mon Gates for defending the castle, which are classified as Important Cultural Property. These enabled castle inhabitants to fend off attackers from all directions with stone drops and gun or arrow slots.
If you’re visiting on the weekend or a national holiday, be sure to get there by 9 a.m. when you can help push open the Ichino Mon Gate. Entering the castle itself, you’ll remove your shoes and clamber up the narrow wooden staircases to explore the highest lookout point called Tenshu and several other towers.
Now having politely stormed the castle you can be first in line to don the armor of ancient warriors. This superior dress up diversion is included in the entrance fee, so it’s worth the wait. Speaking of weight, the metal and leather add a few pounds, so stand straight as you pose for your pictures!
Other highlights include the Ninomaru Historical Gardens and Sakanouenokumo Museum which are close by. The former is a designated lover’s sanctuary, where marriage proposals can be made and wedding photos are taken. The latter is devoted to the novel of the same name by Ryotaro Shiba.
Having imbibed all the castle has to offer, coupled with love and literature, it’s time to head back down and quench your thirst with a local citrus brew. The mikan (mandarin orange) is a staple fruit of the Ehime diet, and you can try it fresh or as an ingredient in the beer, which seems to be a popular choice. You’ll find these and many citrus variants (candies, jellies, jams, coffees) in the 10 Factory juice bar and other local establishments.
Discover and visit more of Japan’s castles.