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A Castle In The Sky! Bicchu Matsuyama Castle In Okayama

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Bicchu Matsuyama Castle of Takahashi City in Okayama is located at 430 meters above sea level, being the castle located at the highest altitude in Japan. We introduce the highlights of this amazing castle!

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Bicchu Matsuyama Castle - A Must-Visit Place in Okayama

Bicchu Matsuyama Castle

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

Bicchu Matsuyama Castle is located in the city of Takahashi in Okayama, atop Gagyusan Mountain, about 150 kilometers west of Osaka.

This castle was originally built in the Kamakura period (1185-1330). As the site was a place of strategic importance, warlords fought over its ownership in the Sengoku Period (Warring States period). The remaining castle tower was built in 1683, in the Edo Period (1603-1868).

The western region of the Okayama, which is located in the Chugoku Region, was known as "Bicchu". This castle is called "Bicchu Matsuyama Castle", as there is another Matsuyama castle in Japan.

A "Castle in the Sky"

Bicchu Matsuyama Castle

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

Bicchu Matsuyama Castle was built at an altitude of 430 meters, to prevent enemy invasions.

Early in the morning, from late September to early April, the castle sometimes looks like it is floating on a sea of clouds. Due to this fantastic view, it has been called a "Castle in the Sky." Takeda Castle in Hyogo Prefecture is also called a "Castle in the Sky" for the same reason.

This view can be seen from the Bicchu Matsuyama Castle Observatory. A sea of clouds appears when there is a large difference between the morning and daytime temperatures, so visitors should check the weather forecast in advance.

Access to the Observatory
The observatory is located on the mountainside, so it can be reached only by car. From October to March, there is a shared taxi service from the JR Bicchu-Takahashi Station to the observatory twice every day. For further information, please check this Japanese site. A reservation is required a day in advance, and the round-trip fare is 1500 yen per person. It may snow from December to February, so dress accordingly.

Address: Okayama, Takahashi, Matsuyama, Okumanda-cho

Highlights of Bicchu Matsuyama Castle

The remains of the castle tower, turret and mud walls are well preserved, and the castle was designated an important cultural asset by the Japanese Government in 1950. Among the castle towers remaining in Japan, this is located at the highest altitude, and on a clear day, the townscape below can be seen from the tower.

Access to the Bicchu Matsuyama Castle

From the Osaka area, take the Hakata-bound San'yo Shinkansen (Nozomi) from JR Shin-Osaka Station. Get off at Okayama Station, and take the JR Hakubi Line to Bitchu-Takahashi Station. The train ride takes about an hour and a half, and the one-way fare is approximately 6500 yen.

The castle can be reached by taxi or bus from the Bitchu-Takahashi Station.

Access to the Castle by Taxi
There is a shared taxi service connecting Bitchu-Takahashi Station tourist information center and Fuigo Toge Parking Lot. From the parking lot, it is a twenty-minute walk to the castle. To use this service, call the tourist information center, and make reservations at least a day in advance. The fare is 500 yen per person.

Access to the Castle by Bus
Take the bus from Takahashi Bus Center, located at the east entrance of Bitchu-Takahashi Station, to Shiromibashi Koen shuttle bus depot. Switch to the shuttle bus at the depot, and head for Fuigo Toge. From there, it is a twenty-minute walk to the castle.

The bus from Bitchu-Takahashi Station to Shiromibashi Koen runs only on Saturdays and Sundays of March, April, May, October, and November. The fare is 160 yen. The shuttle bus to the castle runs throughout the year, and the fare is 300 yen.

The timetable of the shuttle bus changes depending on the season, so make sure to check the time for the bus returning to Shiromibashi Koen. Please note that the shuttle bus may be canceled on rainy days.

Admission Fee, Business Hours and Fixed Holidays

The admission fee for the castle is 300 yen for adults and 150 yen for junior high and elementary school students.

From April to September, the castle is open from 9:00 to 17:30. From October to March, the castle closes at 16:30. The castle is completely closed from December 29 to January 3.

Seasonal Events at Bicchu Matsuyama Castle

Bicchu Matsuyama Castle

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

Takahashi in Okayama is a castle town that developed around Bicchu Matsuyama Castle, and hosts the Bitchu Takahashi Matsuyama Odori festival for three days in August, every year.

This festival has a history of 370 years, and is one of the Three Great Festivals of Okayama Prefecture, along with Shiraishi Dance Festival and Omiya Dance Festival. Anyone can join the Bitchu Takahashi Matsuyama Festival, where participants dressed in yukata and kasa (straw lampshade hats) dance in the streets near the Bitchu Takahashi Station.

Visit the Fukiya Furusato Village

Bicchu Matsuyama Castle

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

There is a town called Fukiya, located 26 kilometers northwest of Takahashi. A popular travel destination called Fukiya Furusato Village is located here.

Fukiya Furusato Village is known for its townscape of copper-colored Sekishu-gawara (tile) and bengara (red ochre) colored buildings. In 1979, it was designated as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings and was awarded the grand prize of the Urban Landscape Awards. Visitors should take the Fukiya-bound bus from Bitchu-Takahashi Station.

Bicchu Matsuyama Castle is located on a mountain top, so the access may be a little difficult. But it certainly has a unique appeal, compared to the castles in urban areas. Appreciating its charms may well prove to be worth the effort.

Written by

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