Sasayama Castle




From the top of Mt. Takashiro to the Southeast of Sasayama Castle the Hatano ruled over the Tanba area from Yagami Castle. Yagami Castle fell to attacks by Akechi Mitsuhide in 1579. In 1608 Tokugawa Ieyasu's son Matsudaira Yasushige became lord of Yagami Castle. The following year, Ieyasu started the construction of Sasayama Castle while dismantling Yagami Castle as part of his plan to better control the western lords and fortify Osaka Castle. The castle was designed by Todo Takatora and completed in less than a year.

Visit Notes

This is a fascinating castle. It's a simple stout stronghold with tall thick stone walls and an ominous presence that dominates the whole plain. The main keep was never built but it just shows how the main keep is really just for show, not for military purposes. Sasayama Castle's purpose was to control the Western lords and fortify the roads to Osaka.

The castle is also well preserved. The palace unfortunately burned down in 1944, but it was rebuilt (1996-2000) using original photos and with reference to the Ninomaru Palace at Nijo Castle. They may be often overlooked, but Sasayama Castle should also be noted for the 2 umadashi style gates that fortify the main compounds of the castle to the northeast and southwest. Since this is one of the tenkabushin castles (large scale construction projects of the Edo Bakufu) it was built by multiple lords and you can find many of their marks, or kokuin, in the stone walls. See the separate Sasayama Castle Kokuin album below.

Besides the castle, Sasayama is an interesting little town that retains the charm of a rustic castle town including a samurai quarter with some former samurai homes (only the Ama Residence is open to the public) and a variety of local shops and specialties. See the Anma Residence page and the Sasayama Castle Samurai District pages for more details.

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  • NE Umadashi Gate
  • NE Umadashi Gate
  • NE Umadashi Gate
  • SW Umadashi Gate
  • SW Umadashi Gate

More Galleries and Feature Pages
Castle Profile
English Name Sasayama Castle
Japanese Name 篠山城
Alternate Names Kiriga-jo
Founder Tokugawa Ieyasu
Year Founded 1609
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Designations Top 100 Castles, National Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Year Reconstructed 2000 (Osyoin Palace)
Features palace, samurai homes, water moats, trenches, stone walls, walls, castle town
Visitor Information
Access Sasayama-guchi Station (Fukuchiyama Line), 30 min bus, 5 min walk
Visitor Information Open 9am-5pm; 400 yen; Closed Monday (except National Holidays, when closed Tuesday), closed Dec 25-Jan 1
Time Required 210 mins (including samurai home)
Location Sasayama, Hyogo Prefecture
Coordinates 35° 4' 24.28" N, 135° 13' 3.25" E
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Added to Jcastle 2004
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 2018
Admin Visits December 20, 2018
(10 votes)
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23 months ago
Score 0++
Hands-down top tier site on the up-and-up. Satou-bukeyashiki also may be open, so check when visiting the Anma house! Local cafe also looks like a samurai house but they couldn't tell me who lived in it. I found a map of the neighbourhood at the Satou residence and it is one of two homes on it for sure...


49 months ago
Score 1++
I had a very nice day here yesterday. Took the bus, and it's quite a trek if you cycled it. A very impressive site with its walls rising over the town, and the palace is very fine. I live in hope that a few more buildings may be added in future. The town has a lovely atmosphere, which somehow reminded me of a quieter version of Hirosaki, with its Samurai houses and large castle site. Definitely a must for castle fans, but also somewhere you could take people who aren't big fans but just enjoy a day in a pleasant atmosphere. It's a pretty easy trip from Osaka too, though worth checking the train and bus times.


63 months ago
Score 1++

I recommend visiting Sasayama Castle.

First some general notes. There are no rental cycles in winter (roughly December through February, if I remember correctly), so please check beforehand. The bus connection from Sasayama-guchi to the town is good, though, so it's not really a problem.

Some places in the town suffered damage from typhoon 21 (October 2017). Parts of the ishigaki were damaged, very little though so it's hardly noticeable. However, because there seems to be some danger of further crumbling of the walls, some parts of the castle are off limits (i.e. the path between the uchibori and the stone walls of the honmaru). The Aoyama History Museum suffered more serious damage: the nagaya that Furinkazan describes below and another building on those premises. Both are off limits, but you can see a magnificent scroll (with anthropomorphous mice) in the small museum in the old warehouse. The 600 yen pass to the four sites is still well worth it, I think.

Some comments on the castle itself. Like other people here, I think the introductory video was very well done. For me personally, the most enjoyable thing at this site were the kokuin (刻印) on the ishigaki. There are many to be found, many of them very clear. The best places to find them were the tenshudai and at the entrance to the Ōshoin.


70 months ago
Score 1++

From Kyôto it's a 15 min ride to Shin Ôsaka and from there to Sasayamaguchi station it's a 50 min ride with the Kônotori. The weather was outstanding today and i went to the information ofgice at the station. The lady asked me directly if i was going to the castle. She told me to take a bus from busstop 2 at the west exit of the station. I told her i was going with a cycle and she send me to the east exit of the station. There i was proposed 2 kind of cycles. One like Raymond mentioned in his comment. The fee now is 800¥. But you can take a cycle without battery assistance for 600¥. I took one with assistance. The saddles zre too low for taking a normal one. I received several maps at yhe information office and at the rental shed. The guy there was very helpful how to get at the center of the city. Sasayama has a lot to offer for history enthusiasts. I stopped first at the Seiganji. from there i went to the Aoyama history museum. The nagaya is a City designated Cultural Property. There are several nice artifacts. You can pay a 600¥ combination ticket for this museum and the 3 following. It halfs the fee if you pay each fee independently. From there i rode to the bukeyashiki, which is also the Anma historical museum. It's a nice residence in the samurai district. I went to the castle by beginning at the south Umadashi. This is completely overgrown. I went to the Ôshoin. Like Rebolforces mentioned, the introductory video of the castle is very well done. I recommend to look at it. The model is also a nice piece. The reconstructed building is beautiful. The castle grounds were used in several movies. There is a panel with the titles of 5 movies. They are still working on the outer moat to restore it like it was in the Edo-period. I went to the west Umadashi. This one is very well maintained and it's now a little park. Then i went to the Historical Artifacts museum. They have some nice artifacts, like weapons, armors and scrolls. After that i visited several temples and shrines.

I really recommend to visit this little city.


71 months ago
Score 0++
The video presentation of the history for building this castle was first rate. Probably the best I have seen, very good English subtitles.


164 months ago
Score 0++
This is a nice little castle ruin to visit. It’s a little out of the way, but you can get there from Osaka in around an hour. However, the castle site is 6km from the JR Sasayamaguchi Station. I rented a bicycle for 700yen (whole day and the only rate) from the bike rental place next to the train station and rode into Sasayama in around 15 minutes. The bicycles are new red commuter bikes with three gears and battery-assisted. The castle has lots of its ishigaki left along with most of its water moats intact. The about-to-be-released Japanese film called “Katen no Shiro” (火天の城) had a few of its scenes filmed at Sasayama Castle. One thing about the stones at Sasayama Castle which stood out is that it has a huge variety of symbols carved on some of them because around 20 lords or so were encouraged by Tokugawa Ieyasu to fund the building of this castle. The original samurai homes are a huge plus when it comes to visiting this quiet castle town. Here is some information that I picked up from the “Aoyama Historical Residence”, one of the samurai houses that I visited. The brochure (only in Japanese) states that there were 14 Lords of Sasayama Castle. The first eight, from 1609 to (presumably 1748) were held by the Matsudairas. From 1748 until the Meji Restoration, it had six Aoyama lords. The brochure only says when the lords began their reign at the castle. The first Aoyama lordship started in 1748, so I have made the assumption that the Matsudaira Clan ruled until the changeover in 1748. The castle was built in 1609, and I think torn down in 1871, so that means the Matsudaira Clan ruled it for 139 years and the Aoyama Clan ruled it for 123 years, almost a fifty-fifty split between the two clans.