Yamagata Castle 山形城
Founder Shiba (Mogami) Kaneyori
Year 1356
Type Flatland
Condition Other Buildings
Alternate Name Kasumiga-jo
Reconstructed 1993 (wood)
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles
Location Yamagata, Yamagata Prefecture
Map Google Map
Access Yamagata Station (Yamagata Shinkansen), 1km walk
Website Yamagata City Tourist Information
Visited September 12, 2003
Notes If you enter through the main reconstructed East Gate, make sure you go out the back and visit the reconstruction of the honmaru and leave via the South Gate. This castle was well worth the visit for the beautiful reconstruction of the East Gate and for the ongoing archaeological excavation and reconstruction of the honmaru.

The castle originally established by Shiba Kaneyori at Yamagata is said to have been about the size of the honmaru of the later Yamagata castle. Shiba later took the name of the surrounding area and changed his name to Mogami. Mogami's ancestor Mogami Yoshiaki reconstructed the castle into a much larger fortres in 1592. He added the ninomaru and sannomaru, but there was never a large main keep that you see at other castles. It did however have three 2 story and one 3 story yagura.

While Mogami Yoshiaki went to the Battle of Sekigahara with Tokugawa Ieyasu, it is said that Uesugi Kagekatsu's general Naoe Kanetsugu went to attack Yamagata Castle but he could find it as it was buried in thick fog. Thereafter, the castle was also known as kasumigajo, the castle in the haze.

At his peak after the battle of Sekigahara Yoshiaki controlled land yielding 570,000 koku. Yoshiaki died in 1614 and his successor Iechika died shortly thereafter in 1617. His sucessor Yoshitoshi was reduced to 300,000 koku and later moved to Mikawa. Over time the importance of Yamagata Castle to the Tokugawa rule over Eastern Japan declined, and with it the size of territory controlled by the lord of Yamagat Castle was also reduced.

Yamagata Castle is well known today for the authentic wooden econstruction of the East Gate. As you can see from the above picture, this is a masugata style gate. The 2 tamon yagura, high stone walled moat, and the walls surrounding the top make it most impregnable.

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  • ART    October 27, 2016 at 11:16 PM
    Yamagata Castle is a partially reconstructed flat land castle. The Higashi Otemon (Eastern Gate), including its two adjoining tamon-yagura, and Inner Bailey Gate, as well as their connecting bridges, have been authentically reconstructed using historical materials. As well as Ishigaki, you can observe the outer and inner moats (the latter of which is now dried). So there is enough to see to attract history fans. Formerly Yamagatajō also possessed 3 additional masugata gates on the outer moat, one additional masugata-mon on the inner moat, several two-storey yagura and a three-storey yagura on the outer moat, along with other fortifications. The honmaru did not have a mainkeep, but hosted a go’ten palace.
  • kiddus_i2003 on My Page    January 26, 2016 at 05:56 PM
    Not a lot to see , but still worth the visit after having made a trip to nearby Yamadera temples.
  • kiddus_i2003 on My Page    January 26, 2016 at 05:54 PM
    Not a lot to see , but still worth the visit after having made a trip to nearby Yamadera temples.
  • pskully.japan    November 30, 2015 at 06:11 PM
    I was just there this morning, and was quite impressed by the reconstructions. It was absolutely freezing though, and so I think I'd like to go back when it's warmer! I am also collecting the 100名城 stamps, so I had a bit of trouble finding it. The guide book I have said it was at the 二の丸東大手門, but I found it at the 山形市郷土館 museum.. The woman there was very friendly!
  • furinkazan on My Page    May 14, 2015 at 07:12 PM
    When i arrived at the Yamagata station this morning, i went to the informationdesk. The lady was very helpful and she asked if i came with a JR-pass. After sawing it, she gave me 2 postcards as present. I then went to the castle. The reconstructed gates are very nicely done, being in wood. There aren't a lot of other buildings or ishigaki, but excavations are still done. There are no explanations in english. After the castle i went to the Mogami Yoshiaki historical museum. It's free to enter. The staffmembers were very friendly. They spoke their best english. Since i'm a foreigner i received a booklet in english about the exhibition and a book which is the translation in english of the Mogami chronicles. During the visit of the museum a staff-member went with me and gave some explanation of the artifacts.
  • Kris on My Page    September 01, 2012 at 10:36 PM
    I was really impressed by the reconstructions at Yamagata and all the work that seems to be going into new ones. They are really enthusiastic about this site – at the moment work is underway to reconstruct the floor plans of the honmaru – the reconstruction work in picture six has largely been completed and there is now a bridge there, and a viewing platform to let you take really good pictures of the bridge. Even though the site incorporates sports facilities and a museum it is still very accessible and enjoyable and easy to walk the entire circumference of the moat and see all the gates. You can even go down and walk alongside the moat on some sides or along the top. The stone walls made from the river stones are really pretty and they have a good open air display on the creation of ishigaki as well. We ran out of time for the museums but did get to see inside the East gate. The statue of Mogami is quite rare in Japan because it realistically shows a horse rearing up two legs – it also makes it kind of tricky to get a decent snap of the statue and castle. Also, not a castle at all, but the Bunshokan museum in the old Prefectural Diet is a gorgeous old building that looks like a slice of Europe.
  • Frank T. on My Page    November 28, 2011 at 12:01 AM
    I have been here a few times over the last several years, and there always seems to be something going on and something new. What's nice is they're doing things the right way--as authentically as possible. If I get the chance to stop by next year, it will be interesting to see what's new.
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Yamagata, Yamagata Prefecture
Yamagata Castle views
East Gate (masugata) of Yamagata Castle Koguchi entrance gate to the East gate (masugata).
yagura mon gate of the East Gate. Yagura mon as seen from the ninomaru.
East gate and Mogami statue. Honmaru reconstruction
Artist's rendering of the honmaru. South gate stone walls.
stone walls