Matsusaka Castle 松阪城
Founder Gamou Ujisatou
Year 1588
Type Hilltop
Condition Other Buildings
Alternate Name Hirayama-jo
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Historical Site Prefectural Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles, Important Cultural Properties
Location Matsusaka, Mie Pref.
Map Google Map
Access 15 mins walk from station or take bus and stop at Shimin-Byoin mae
Website Matsusaka City
Visited November 25, 2011
Notes This castle is a must-see for stone wall fans. All the extant baileys are fortified with stone walls and you can see some unique structures like the Honmaru sekirui and the very well fortified gates. There are no fences or "don't enter" signs atop the stone walls so you can get very close to the edges. I also recommend you stop by the rice warehouse and samurai homes. You can also explore nearby Tamaru Castle to see 2 great examples of castle ruins with many stone walls.

Some books actually use the typical 坂 character for the 'saka' part of the name, but it actually should be the same as the character in Osaka 阪.

History Gamo Ujisato built Matsusaka Castle in 1588 in a style and structure that closely resembles Azuchi Castle. Ujisato put much effort into developing the castle town. He adopted the Rakuichi-rakuza system (free trade), built/redirected the new Sangu-kaido road leading to Ise, moved in moneylenders from Matsugashima castle, merchants from Hino in Omi, and shipping agents.

Later, under Tokugawa Yorinobu, merchants moved to Edo became rich, and were entrusted with the right to print hansatsu, money bills of Kishu-han. City is famous for Matsusaka momen, Ise Oshiroi, Gikaku-shi, nowadays beef.


Did this very rushed returning from Ise. Fortunately it is the kind of ruined castle you can do in a rush - no uphill hiking and very easy to navigate. Ishigaki were imposing and photogenic. The Hyakumeijo stamp is in the nearby Municipal Museum of History and Folklore, which has a brochure about the castle and museum in English. The museum has exhibits about Matsusaka's history as a merchant town. (100 yen entry, 9 - 4 pm).

From the top of the ruins you can see something else that looks like a castle in the town - I have no idea what it is or whether it bears investigating. We didn't have time to see it but Matsusaka also has the birthplace of the Mitsuis, the house of the Hasegawas, the Memorial Museum of Matsusaka Merchants, the Memorial to Motoori Norinaga (Suzu-no-ya), a Cultural Hall and Cultural Property Centre and also Gojoban Yashiki - latter Edo period samurai residences.

The station sells Matsusaka beef Ekiben in a singing cow bento box.

Above history and comments by KristyD

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Comment on this castle
  • Ron S.    April 09, 2017 at 11:16 PM
    My wife and I visited Matsusaka (-zaka?) last week and we also noticed the green roofed tenshu in the middle of town beyond the nagaya apartments. We also didn't have time to check it out, but after getting home I found it on Google Street View and later found photos on Google images. It is located behind a dentist office and may have been the dentist's residence. Both structures are in shabby condition and appear to be uninhabited. Check out these blogs for pics: and
  • ART    October 27, 2016 at 10:50 PM
    A great ruin, Matsusaka Castle’s ishigaki (stone walls) ensconce many baileys and reach impressive heights. Though structures are almost all gone, the site is still worth visiting to see these mighty ruins.
  • kiddus_i2003 on My Page    June 02, 2014 at 02:29 PM
    Impressive walls, great little museum on site and the houses nearby of the castle guards were well worth the visit.
  • furinkazan on My Page    May 07, 2014 at 10:02 PM
    Went today to this site. There are alot of ishigaki, but because the site is a park, big parts are obstructed by trees all around the place. Nevertheless interesting to visit. The History and folklore museum was closed, i suppose because it was after a holiday. I managed to collect the 100 meijo stamp at the other museum on the castlegrounds.
  • Kris    September 01, 2012 at 08:13 PM
    I got the stamps for Matsusaka - I definitely collect them - I take a notebook and collect stamps in general whenever I go to a castle, and then put them in a scrap book. I originally didn`t have the official booklet so there are a lot of castles I need to go back to or ask friends to help out on. Some places are kinder than others when it comes to helping non-Japanese castle visitors gain access to Top 100 stamps.
  • RaymondW    August 26, 2012 at 09:14 AM
    G'day Timothy, I collect the 100 Meijo stamps when I visit a castle site that is listed as one of the 100 Meijo. One of my non-Japanese friends also collects them when he makes it to a 100 Meijo site. Of course, it is all too easy to forget to bring the little booklet when I go and visit a castle.
  • Eric    August 22, 2012 at 06:54 PM
    Timothy, there are many visitors to this site who ask me or comment about the Top 100 stamps so I think there is much interest. I have never collected them myself, but I am beginning to regret it.
  • Timothy Takemoto    August 21, 2012 at 10:38 AM
    I am interested to know whether non-Japanese castle visitors are interested in receiving the castle stamp.
  • RaymondW    December 11, 2011 at 09:09 PM
    Re-visited this castle ruin today. It definitely looks better in December than in February. The autumn leaves at just about at the peak now. There are plenty of red leaves from some bushes as well as maple trees.
  • RaymondW on My Page    April 02, 2011 at 03:06 PM
    For fans of ishigaki, this castle ruin has tons of it. I went to this castle in mid-February after going to the nearby Tamura Castle Ruin (not listed on this website yet), about 20 minutes away by JR train from Matsuzaka Station. Matsuzaka Castle is quite an impressive castle ruin with enough signs and explanations in Japanese to clearly identify the various baileys and ruins around the site. The museum on the castle ground does have some nice black and white photos of the castle before it was demolished. I spent almost two hours at this castle site. It possible to visit three castles ruins in the Matsuzaka / Tsu area in one day. I managed to get in Tamaru Castle, Matsuzaka Castle, and Tsu Castle in that order.
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Matsusaka, Mie Pref.
Matsusaka Castle views
Omotemon entrance Omotemon Entrance
Tsukimi Yagura foundation stone wall behind the Omotemon
Outer Ninomaru Wall stone wall
Stairs leading to the Inner Gate Path to the Inner Gate
Inner Gate area seen from above Path to the Inner Gate
Inner Gate (Naka Gomon) stone wall behind the Omotemon Entrance
Omote Gate seen from above Stairs to the Honmaru
Stairs to the Honmaru Inside the Honmaru.
Honmaru stone walls Honmaru stone walls
Honmaru stone walls stone walls
stone walls stone walls
Omotemon Gate stone walls Stone walls
Stone walls Rear Entrance (Uramon)
rear entrance Rear entrance
Rear entrance stone walls Rice warehouse
Guard homes
Inside one apartment Castle map