Imabari Castle 今治城
Founder Takatora Todo
Todo
Year 1604
Type Flatland
Condition Reconstructed
Alternate Name Fukiage-jo
Reconstructed 1980
Structure 5 levels, 6 floors
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Historical Value Top 100 Castles
Location Imabari, Ehime Prefecture
Map Google Map
Access Imabari Station, 10 minutes by bus
Website Imabari City Website
Visited October 19, 2001
Notes This was the second of three castles visited on our trip to Shikoku. The view of the Seto inland sea and Kurushima Bridges is fantastic. The guys who ran the castle were really nice. They even have a real samurai helmet in the back they'll let you wear. Just ask. You'll be surprised how heavy it is.
History

For his services during the Battle of Sekigahara Takatora Todo was awarded this large parcel of land on the Iyo peninsula. Takatora began construction of the castle in 1602 and moved here from his castle at Uwajima in 1608 when the palace was completed. That same year he was restationed at Tsu in Ise Prefecture. His adopted son, Takayoshi, took oover Imabari.

In 1635, Takatora's adopted son Takayoshi was reassigned and Sadafusa Matsudaira moved in. Imabari Castle was then controlled by the Matsudaira until the Meiji Restoration. The location of Imabari Castle is very important as a strategic militarily point from which to control traffic through the Seto Sea.

The main keep of Imabari Castle was disassembled in 1610 and carried to Osaka. It was originally supposed to become the main keep of Igaueno Castle but was instead rebuilt as the main keep of Kameyama Castle.

The scaffolding you see on some of the pictures is to there to repair damage suffered in an earthquake.

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  • ART    October 27, 2016 at 10:38 PM
    Imabari Castle is a beautiful site. There are lots of reconstructed buildings here and it takes time to see everything. Imabarijō is easily one of the highlights of my tour in Shikoku. The castle was known widely as one of the three great Mizujiro (water castles) of the Edo Period and its moats drew in salt water. It’s construction was especially impressive because it was built on sandy coastal land but remains sturdy today.
  • kiddus_i2003 on My Page    April 04, 2014 at 10:57 PM
    First saw this at night and was very impressed , especially with the waterfront so close. Came back the next day and was still impressed what with its own temples on the grounds and the views.
  • RaymondW    August 22, 2013 at 04:54 PM
    My third visit to this castle since 2002. I finally took my time in sussing out this castle and asked a few more questions about the reconstructed turrets and gates. Most of them were reconstructed from mainly pine with some Japanese Cyprus for the columns. The Kuroganegomon Gate is quite an impressive reconstruction, so don’t skip it like I did on my earlier rushed visits. Like the other reconstructed turrets, it used mainly pine and Japanese Cyprus, but for the massive steel-plated doors of the gates, zelkova was used. Most of the wood was sourced from forests in Shimane Prefecture and Tottori Prefecture. As Furikazan below has already mentioned, there are plenty of suits of samurai armour on display inside the reconstructed concrete keep. I counted around 25 suits of armour. I took a taxi to the site and then the local bus back to JR Imabari Station. The taxi only cost around 700yen, and there is a bus roughly every 8 to 10 minutes from a bus stop a little down from the Kuroganegomon Gate.
  • Anonymous    April 26, 2013 at 09:00 PM
    I spent the day at Imabari Jo and was very impressed with the reconstruction, the large amount of displayed artifacts and the really helpful guides. This was number 65 of the 100 castle from the 100 famous castle guide that I have visited and I would definitely give it a solid 4.
  • RaymondW    April 27, 2012 at 09:06 PM
    Furinkazan, I will definitely start with the castle keep next time and the other yaguras with their museums. BTW, I have just realised that I made a mistake with Todo Takatora's name. I had called him "Toda" instead of "Todo". Imabari Castle certainly deserves a good half day.
  • furinkazan    April 25, 2012 at 08:08 PM
    @RaymondW, you are right about the painting of Tokugawa's generals and scroll. I actually didn't asked which castle had the most armors. Contenders would be Uedajo and Osakajo. Try next time to take the tour by starting at the tenshukaku. You can take there a double-page leaflet and a stamp. Then you go to the towers and you'll get 3 other stamps and finally the stamp of Toda Takatora
  • RaymondW on My Page    April 24, 2012 at 09:46 PM
    Imabari Castle does have a very good museum. As Furinkazan has mentioned, there are lots of suits of armour there. If I recall correctly, there is a scroll painting of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s Top 16 Generals along with some paintings of Toda Takatora. I have been to Imabari Castle twice, but unfortunately, each time I rushed it. The first time was so I could get to a camp site on Oomishima Island (part of the Shimanami Kaido) before dusk while on a bicycle tour in 2002 (focus on cycling and not castles) and the second time was when I tried to fit in both Imabari Castle and Iyo-Matsuyama Castle in one day two years ago. I definitely need to re-visit this castle and devote a good half day to properly enjoy it instead of doing it in just an hour or hour and a half. For me, this site is worth at least 3.5 stars. Furinkazan, do you know which museum or castle has the most important collection of samurai armour in Japan? I think Ueda City Museum in Nagano has a pretty good collection. Himeji Castle has also recently opened up its Watari Yagura (for a limited time during the current massive renovation), and inside must be around 20 suits of armour.
  • furinkazan on My Page    April 23, 2012 at 07:42 PM
    The site of this castle is very photogenic. You are able to take very nice pictures from almost every side of the castle, walking around the very large moat. 5 years ago they have rebuild some aditional yagura and the kuroganegomon in original materials. For this i give it 4 stars(the tenshukaku is in concrete, at least inside they tried to hide it with wooden planking). The collection of armors is very impressive. At the entrance they told me that they possess the 2nd most important number of armors that a castle in Japan has. I really recommend this castle when you're in the vicinity.
  • kiddus_i2003    April 10, 2012 at 11:47 AM
    Rode my bike from Onomichi to Imabari,then on to Matsuyama.Castles in both towns/cities were great.Imabari was my favorite as it was not just a castle but the site of a shrine (an Inari shrine) and a small temple.The moat was fed by the sea and looked pristine,the castle at night is fantastic.
  • Allison Ho    February 28, 2012 at 11:01 AM
    Great job !
  • Alamo6400    January 08, 2011 at 04:40 PM
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Imabari, Ehime Prefecture
Imabari Castle views
donjon and gate donjon and yagura
yagura, bridge and moat moats
gate ninomaru courtyard
view from the tenshukaku towards the newly reconstructed towers and gate Yamazatoyagura
inside the kuroganegomon inside the castle, viewing the kuroganegomon
view of all the towers together Map