Bitchu Matsuyama-jo: The Only Original Mountain Fortress in Japan
Bitchu Matsuyama Castle 「Bitchū Matsuyama-jō, 備中松山城」 is well known in Japan and among Japanese castle-philes as one of the 12 remaining original castles in Japan.
The city of Takahashi, home to Bitchu Matsuyama-jo says the castle can also be referred to as tenshu no nokoru yuiitsu no yamashiro 「”the only remaining mountain castle tower” 天守の残る唯一の山城」 and the castle is sometimes also called Takahashi Castle.
Bitchu Matsuyama-jo is one of only a handful of castles in Okayama Prefecture. Most of the other castles are preserved ruins. The castles still standing are Okayama-jo and Tsuyama-jo.
While Bitchu Matsuyama-jo isn’t the easiest castle to visit, it certainly is unique. The castle sits high on a mountain peak overlooking the town of Takahashi, and the river and valley below.
Unlike other castles, the defensive walls are not extensive, as the mountain peak gives natural fortifications. Sheer rock cliffs and walls surround the castle. Ruins can be found on the castle grounds of previous structures from as early as 1331.
Visitors to Bitchu Matsuyama-jo can enter the castle grounds and buildings, including the main tower, for just a few hundred yen. Artifacts are also housed inside the lower level of the castle, a kind of mini-museum.
For more details, see the Bitchu Matsuyama Castle and Takahashi travel guide.