Castle's Tower (1/3)
Hiking trail (2/3)
Castle's steep walls (3/3)


Japan's oldest and only mountaintop castle


Bitchu Matsuyama Castle

300¥ 9:00 - 17:00

Bitchu Matsuyama is one of the twelve Japanese castles to remain in its original form and the oldest one of them all, dating from the 17th century. Built on top of Mount Gangyu, it is also the only surviving mountaintop castle in the nation and the highest located one, at an elevation of 480 meters over the sea level. The emplacement on a steep hill provided a good defense against enemy attacks and even today access is not easy, as visitors have to hike in order to reach the main tower.

The history of Bitchu Matsuyama dates back from 1240, during the Kamakura period, when the first Matsuyama castle was built on a different location nearby by Akiba Shigenobu. In 1331 Takahashi Muneyasu moved the castle to its present site, but had a completely different structure. The castle in its present shape was built in 1683 by Mizunoya Katsumune and remained intact until the Meiji Restoration, when several of its structures were demolished. The main tower, a watching turret and part of the wall were saved and can be visited today.

Unlike to other castles in Japan, the Tenshu, or main tower, of Bitchu Matsuyama is only two stories high, since its location on top of a mountain already allowed a large field of vision and nowadays offers impressive panoramic views of Takahashi. Since the castle primarily served as a defensive fortress and, its walls are high and steep and can only be accessed on foot by a hiking trail.


Option 1

Okayama Station

Limited Express Yakumo
35 min. 820¥ Railpass

Bitchu Takahashi Station

Option 2

Okayama Station

JR Hakubi Line
54 min. 820¥ Railpass

Bitchu Takahashi Station


From Bitchu Takahashi station it's recommended to take a taxi up to the mountain's upper parking, which will take about 15 minutes. From there, the only way to reach the castle's main keep can is on a 20 minute hike following a trail which is well signed.