Tsuwano Castle 津和野城
Founder Yoshimi Yoriyuki
Year 1283
Type Mountaintop
Condition Ruins
Alternate Name Sanbonmatsu-jo
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles
Location Tsuwano, Shimane Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Tsuwano Sta. (Yamaguchi Line)
Website Tsuwano Sightseeing
Visited Nov 22, 2014
Visitor Info. The lift runs 10am to 5pm and costs 450 yen round trip. | Time Required: 75 mins for the castle ruins
Notes The stone walls of Tsuwano Castle are spectacular and it reminds you a lot of Takeda Castle but a little bit smaller scale. Don't miss the Babasaki Yagura and Monomiyagura watchtowers in the town.

You can take the ski lift to the top of the mountain but there is also a trail near the Taikodani Inari Shrine. It is not a particularly difficult hike, but you should plan about an hour. Also, it is very advisable to carry a bear bell to keep bears away. There were numerous signs to that effect and 2 people cautioned me about not having one. You can see some minor fortifications like horikiri trenches and small baileys. Also the trail from the South Gate continues on down through the Nakaara Castle and out to the Washihara Hachimangu Shrine. It's an enjoyable walk but sometimes the path is not clear.


Yoshimi Yoriyuki established this castle, originally called Sanbonmatsu-jo, to watch over the province of Iwami. His family ruled here for 14 generations. Yoshimi Hironaga, the 14th generation, supported the Mouri clan in the Battle of Sekigahara (1600) and was moved to Hagi with them after they lost to the Tokugawa forces.

Sakazaki Naomori was awarded this domain for his support and success at the Battle of Sekigahara. Starting form the Demurs Bailey he started to vastly expand and fortify the castle. The stone walls you see at the top of the mountain date form this time period. Naomori died in 1616 leaving no descendents. Kamei Masanori was moved here in his place where his family ruled for 11 generations until the coming of the Meiji Period when the castle was dismantled. Came

The tenshu burned down in a fire caused by lightning in 1686. The castle was dismantled in 1873.

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  • jthaas    July 31, 2016 at 01:08 PM
    If you've walked through all the red torii gates up to the Taikodani Inari Shrine, then these castle ruins are very easy to get to. Just walk through the carpark, follow the road down the mountain and after just a few minutes you'll see the chairlift on your right. You can pick up a free walking staff as you enter the site, which is useful as the path is quite uneven in places. I did see the signs warning about bears (which I admit did worry me a little) but fortunately I didn't see any. There were a number of workmen hammering away at some of the walls at the top of the mountain, so perhaps the noise scared them away! There isn't a lot left to see, but there's a lovely view and the remaining stone walls are quite impressive. The castle map shows how extensive the castle was in its time, but you do need to use your imagination to picture it now. It's quite overgrown, although perhaps the presence of workmen indicates that there's some restoration or repair work going on.
  • regan53    September 03, 2011 at 08:34 PM
    I visited on 26th August 2011 (got soaked and bitten by myriads of mosquitoes in the process). The original structure must have been very impressive as the remaining stonework one can find is equally so. However, everything has been allowed to become very overgrown. I found it very difficult to relate the various components. I can't understand why it has been allowed to decay this way, after all, there's even a chair lift up to the ruins. Overall, I was very disappointed and it's not the easiest of places to get to. A low rating from me I'm afraid. Those responsible should see how well Takeda is being looked after - it's brilliant by comparison.
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Tsuwano, Shimane Pref.
Tsuwano Castle views
Looking towards the Sannomaru Bailey from the Sanjukkendai Koshiguruwa bailey
Demaru Bailey Demaru Bailey
Stone walls of the Demaru Bailey Demaru
Demaru stone walls Demaru
Demaru bailey stone walls Koshiguruwa bailey stone walls
Stone walls Main keep foundation
Main keep foundation Main keep entrance
3 tiers of stone walls Sanjukkendai bailey stone walls
Main keep foundation walls West Gate stone walls
Entrance to the Sanjukkendai from the Taikomaru Bailey Entrance to the Sanjukkendai and the sea of clouds
View from the Sanjukkendai bailey Hitojichi Bailey and Sannomaru Bailey
Hitojichi and Sannnomaru Baileys Sanjukkendai Bailey
Taikomaru Bailey Taikomaru Bailey
Entrance to the Sanjukkendai Taikomaru Bailey
Sanjukkendai stone walls South Gate
Hitojichi Bailey and Sanjukkendai stone walls Hitojichi Bailey and Sanjukkendai stone walls
Sannomaru Bailey Sanjukkendai stone walls
Steps into the Ebi Yagura of the Sannomaru Sannomaru Bailey
Main Keep foundation View of Tsuwano town
Tsuwano castle map Tsuwano castle map
South Demaru Bailey horikiri
Nakaara Castle ruins Nakaara Castle map
Horikiri Horikiri and leveled areas
Horseback archery field Monomi Yagura
Monomi Yagura Babasaki Yagura.
Front side of the Yorokan Nagaya Gate Nagaya Gate of the Yorokan
Back side of the Yorokan Nagayamon Gate to the Tago Family residence
Tsuwano Community Center gate Gate to the Ooka Family residence
Castle town A street in the castle town