Tsuyama Castle 津山城
bitchu yagura
Picture Donated by Victoria L.
Founder Mori Tadamasa
Year 1604
Type Hilltop
Condition Other Buildings
Alternate Name Kakuzan-jo
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles
Location Tsuyama, Okayama Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Tsuyama Sta. (Tsuyama Line); 15 min walk
Website Tsuyama Castle 400th Anniversary Website
Notes Even though there is only the one reconstructed yagura left, the tall stone walls remain in good condition.
History For his success at the Battle of Sekigahara Mori Tadamasa was awarded part of the Mimasaka area. He started construction of the castle in 1604 and completed the castle in 1616. After four generations, the Mori were replaced by Matsudaira Nobutomi. Tsuyama Castle was one of the most well fortified castles ever constructed in Japan. It had so many yagura and gates it was considered to be over fortified. The castle was dismantled during the Meiji Restoration.
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  • ART    May 11, 2016 at 09:08 PM
    I see。Thank you, Phibby.
  • phibbyfan    May 10, 2016 at 07:42 PM
    That was a special event. I believe it was part of the 1300th anniversary of Mimasaka Province.
  • ART    May 10, 2016 at 02:54 PM
    I'm finding pictures online of a mock reconstructed keep at this castle. Is it a permanent thing?
  • Diego    August 24, 2013 at 08:26 AM
    Visited the castle in April of this year, right at the peak of the blooming period for cherry blossoms. http://withinstrikingdistance.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/field-report-tsuyama-05-april-2013/ 3 stars is a fair assessment for the castle, which lacks any notable surviving structures (apart from the nicely restored turret) but has a great set of fortifications with commanding views of the city below. Easily worth 5 stars IF, and ONLY IF, you happen to be there right when the scores of cherry trees planted all over the ruins are in full bloom.
  • furinkazan on My Page    April 20, 2012 at 08:34 PM
    I went today to this castle like i said some days earlier. Sadly it was raining this morning and like i thought the sakura were to their end. There were some still blooming. There are alot of maples too, so it must be nice during the momiji. Apart from trees, the ishigaki are very well preserved and the bitchu-yagura was so interesting. It's the first time i've seen a goten inside such a turret. Are there others known? One minus point is that nothing is translated. You can have a page of explanations in the turret in english, but that's it. I still give 2.5 stars because of the reconstructed turret. It gives you such a feeling that you could living there right on the spot!
  • RaymondW    April 21, 2011 at 09:47 PM
    It was over-fortified in its day, John. There WAS a five-storey castle keep and 60 turrets / watchtowers: 25 two-storey turrets, 25 one-storey turrets, and 10 stretched-out one-storey turrets (Tamonyagura). Of course, they are all gone now because they were torn down at the beginning of the Meiji Period, but the stone walls and bases are all there. Osaka Castle which is certainly much bigger and covers a larger area had less than half the number of turrets that Tsuyama Castle had. It's the number of turrets and their density that makes this a heavily over-fortified castle in its day.
  • john    April 20, 2011 at 10:50 AM
    over fortified, you say-but no keep.
  • Eric    October 19, 2010 at 01:09 PM
    Michele, I think you're right. for castles I have not visited I normally rely on the suggestion of whoever donated the pictures. I've changed the ratings as follows: Tsuyama = 3 stars, Matsusaka = 2 stars, Odani = 1 star. The search index will be updated tonight.
  • Michele    October 19, 2010 at 07:20 AM
    How is this only two stars when Odani and Matsusaka are 3? Tsuyama Castle is much better preserved, was historically the "best" castle, and is beautiful during the cherry blossom and autumn seasons?
  • Sumitra    May 03, 2010 at 09:01 AM
    This is such a GORGEOUS place for cherry blossom viewing! I had read that it was the best place in the Chugoku area, so I was excited, and it did not disappoint! There are so many blossoms in and around the ruins! The city itself is grows on you. So many quaint little shops on the historic Joto street and the garden (which is surprisingly free!) is also pretty with some blossoms there too!
  • Raymond W    March 18, 2010 at 09:47 PM
    Tsuyama Castle is a bit out of the way to visit, but if you are staying overnight in Okayama, then do make it to this castle, Okayama Castle, and Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle (an original castle.) over a two-day period. It takes almost 90 minutes by local train to get to Tsuyama from Okayama Station. Occasionally, there are some semi-express trains to Tsuyama which cuts the journey time down to around 70 minutes. I got the local train going up and was lucky enough to catch the semi-express one back to Okayama. If you like stone walls and a castle design that went for over-fortification then this is one for you. Like Marugame Castle, the whole hilltop has been practically encased in stone, but unlike Marugame Castle, this one had lots and lots of turrets in its days plus a zig-zag defence in the way that it placed its gates. There are no surviving original buildings there, but the Bitchu Yagura (Turret) has been reconstructed (finished in 2005) using traditional materials. Inside this yagura is a video which uses CG to show what the castle looked like in its time and how it was reconstructed. Of course, it is all in Japanese, but the pictures certainly help. This castle ruins has thousands of cherry trees, so at the end of March and beginning of April, it is covered in pink cherry blossoms...and probably squillions of cherry blossom-viewers, too.
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Tsuyama, Okayama Pref.
Tsuyama Castle views
bitchu yagura stone walls
stone walls stone walls
View from across the river near the train station stone walls
Bitchu Yagura and honmaru stone walls. Stone walls
Looking at the Ninomaru courtyard from the Honmaru. stone walls
Inside the Bitchu Yagura Inside the Bitchu Yagura.