Takamatsu Castle, also known as Tamamo Park, is one of ’Japan’s 100 greatest castles’, and also a national historic landmark. It was expanded greatly by Yorishige Matsudaira, Mitsukuni Tokugawa’s (famous through the TV program Mito Komon) older brother.
It is said that Yorishige Matsudaira was ordered by the Edo Shogunate to serve as a statutory auditor to China and Shikoku due to his being the grandson of Iyeyasu Tokugawa and his family’s relationship with the shogunate family.
The Takamatsu han (feudal domain) carried heavy responsibilities, so let’s see how their castle looked.
Here we see the Ushitorayagura (a yagura is a turret/tower in Japanese castles) and the bridge crossing the inner moat, the Asahi bridge. This is located in the south-east corner of the castle, and visitors enter the inner grounds through the east gate (the Ote gate) after crossing the Asahi bridge. (Entrance fee: Adults 200 yen)
By the way, Ushitorayagura was constructed in the Edo Period and is an ’Important Cultural Property’. Reflected in the water of the moat, it really does look beautiful, doesn’t it?
The stone walls of the castle keep foundations are located a short walk from the gate. Here stood the largest castle keep in Shikoku. It even surpassed Kouchi Castle and Matsuyama Castle, but sadly the keep was dismantled in 1884 due to its deteriorating condition.
Let’s go and have a look at the main enclosure!
To get into the main grounds, you have to walk quite far around the inner moat. Even though the castle tower looks close, it’s still far away. This was to make it difficult for attackers to approach quickly.
This is the Saya bridge. This roofed bridge is the only method of entering the main enclosure, which is completely surrounded by the moat. If the castle was under siege, destroying this bridge would make it highly difficult for the attackers to enter the castle grounds.
The view of the castle keep foundations from bridge. It was a long detour, but we’re finally here.
Crossing Saya bridge, and into the main castle grounds. There are steps up the castle keep foundations, so visitors can easily get atop. Let’s try!
This is the north-west view from atop the castle tower foundations. You can see Saya bridge down below.
sea, so visitors have a nice view over the Seto Inland Sea islands, and can see Sunport’s red lighthouse and the ferries passing by.
Actually, the moat is fed by seawater piped in from the bay. Alongside Imabari Castle of Ehime Prefecture, and Nakatsu Castle of Oita Prefecture, the castle is known as one of the ’Three Greatest Water Castles of Japan’.
Close to a more recent modern Japanese style building of the Taisho Period called Hiunkaku, Tsukimiyagura is another tower that still stands today in the north-east corner.
Let’s step outside the main enclosure for a moment and visit the buildings in the north-east.
This is Tsukimiyagura. It has stood since the Edo Period and is an Important Cultural Property. As it is quite tall (3 stories) and has other smaller yagura annexed to it, calling it a castle keep rather than just a yagura would not be an overstatement.
Also an Important Cultural Property, just to the right is Mizute gate. It is filled in now, but back in the day, the daimyo would pass through here on a boat heading out to the bay where a larger boat waited for him whenever he was traveling by sea, i.e to Edo to attend the shogun.
South of Tsukimiyagura, is Hiunkaku, another Important Culture Property. Furthermore, the surrounding Japanese garden has officially been designated by the Japanese government as a ’scenic beauty’.
There used to be a palace about twice the size of Hiunkaku here as well, but as it had deteriorated badly, it was demolished in the Meiji Period. A modern Japanese-style building was constructed in the Taisho Period (1912~26).
Prior reservations are required to enter Hiunkaku, but there are some spots you can look in from the outside.
Takamatsu Castle was long held by the close-knit Iyeyasu Tokugawa and Matsudaira family daimyos. It was abandoned and many parts were demolished after the Meiji Restoration, but the Urayoshiyagura, the Tsukimiyagura and the castle walls still stand, and the moat is still filled with water. It remains one of the Three Greatest Water Castles of Japan.
Takamatsu Castle Tamamo Park
Address: 2-1 Tamamo, Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture
April – May 5:30～18:30
June – August 5:30～19:00
December – January 7:00～17:00
April – September 7:00～18:00
October – March 8:30～17:00
Closed: 12/29 – 12/31
Entrance Fees: Adults (over 16 years) 200 yen, Children (between 6 & 16 years) 100 yen
Tel: 087-851-1521 (Tamamo Park Park Office)
Parking: Available (free-of-charge)
Setouchi Photo-writer: Hironobu Matsuoka
Hironobu Matsuoka / Photo-writer Born in 1974 in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, and currently living there, Hironobu is the president of Mediapolis Inc. "I travel around the country in Solar King, an eco-camping car that has a solar power generator, and film the beautiful scenery of Japan in high-definition. I want to move around the country as much as possible and leave behind videos of precious Japanese nature and scenery for future generations to enjoy. Although I travel all over the country, I love my home area of Setouchi." 'Healing Japan TV' - Traveling virtually around the country through 'healing videos'.
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