68.備中松山城~Bicchu-Matsuyama Castle

The strong castle still remains on the mountain.

立地と歴史~Location and History

山の上に広がった城~Castle spread over Mountain

Bicchu-Matsuyama (what is now Takahashi City) was located in the center of Bicchu Province (the western part of now Okayama Prefecture). Many lords considered this area important and battled each other over it since the first Middle Ages.

城の位置と備中国の範囲~The location of the castle and the range of Bicchu Province

Bicchu-Matsuyama Castle was first built on a mountain called Gagyu-san which has four peaks on it. The first castle was on the back peak called Omatsuyama, then it was spread to the other peaks. What we generally call Bicchu-Matsuyama Castle is on the second peak from the front called Komatsuyama.

城周辺の起伏地図~The relief map around the castle

めまぐるしく変わる城主~Lords were changed several times

In the “Sengoku” or Warring States Period, the Mimura Clan mainly held the castle. Iechika Mimura under the Mori clan took away the castle from the Amago clan in 1561. Since then, several battles happened over the castle. Iechika’s son, Motochika formed an alliance with Nobunaga Oda against Mori, but was lastly beaten by Mori in 1575. The Komatsuyama peak became the center of the castle until then.

三村氏の家紋「剣片喰」~The family crest of the Mimura Clan(licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

After that, the castle was an important site for Mori, but it was taken by the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1600 due to Mori’s loss in the battle of Sekigahara. The castle seemed to be once in ruin. In the Edo Period, several lords such as the Kobori and the Mizunoya clans governed the castle and castle town. They repaired, improved, and completed the castle again.

城主の一人、水谷勝隆肖像画、高梁市歴史美術館蔵~The Portrait of Katsutaka Mizunoya, one of the lords, ownd by Takahashi City History Museum(licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

山裾に御殿~Hall on Foot of the Mountain

They usually lived in the main hall called Onegoya on the foot of the mountain, because it was convenient for governance. In the late Edo Period, people started to refer to the hall on the foot as “the Castle” than the castle on the mountain as “the Mountain Castle”.

備中国松山城絵図部分、江戸時代~Part of the illustration of Bicchu-matsuyama Castle in Bicchu Province, in the Edo Period(出典:国立公文書館)


城への道のり~Route to the Castle

城周辺の地図~The map around the castle

( I will introduce only the main part of Bicchu-Matsuyama Castle on Komatsuyama peak, because I have only been there.) If you drive to Bicchu-Matsuyama Castle, you have to park at the parking lot half-way up the mountain. Then, you will transfer to the shuttle bus or walk. The shuttle bus goes to Fuigo Pass near the front peak called Maeyama. Everyone has to climb up from the pass to the castle. it takes about 30 minutes on foot going through the ruins of Nakadaiko Turret.

中太鼓櫓跡~The ruins of Nakadaiko Turret
城に至る山道~The trail to the castle

素晴らしい石垣~Wonderful stone walls

城周辺の航空写真~The aerial photo of around the castle

You may be surprised to see the combination of stone walls and natural stones. It’s the ruins of the Main or Ote-mon Gate which is the entrance of the Third Enclosure or “Sannomaru”. From the Sannomaru, you will also see the route to the Second Enclosure or “Ninomaru” zigzagged and surrounded by stone walls. It also looks great. In the Ninomaru, you can finally see the Main Enclosure or “Honmaru”.

大手門跡~The ruins of the Main or Ote-mon Gate
二の丸に続く通路~The route to the Second Enclosure
二の丸から見た本丸~The Main Enclosure from the Second Enclosure

本丸と天守~Main Enclosure and Main Tower

Honmaru has the Main Tower or “Tenshu” and three turrets. The Tenshu is one of the 12 remaining ones in Japan and the only one on mountain castles. It is two stories and 11m high which is the smallest one among the 12 Tenshu. However, it matches the rocky top of the mountain and looks heavy.

本丸~The Main Enclosure
天守~The Main Tower

The turrets are also a two story one and two single story ones. They have a good valance. You can enter Tenshu. The inside of it is simple and practical. There is a fireplace and a dressing room for the lord at the first floor. The second floor has a Shinto altar. It is said that they were prepared for the lord’s last battle. Of course, the views from the top are very good!

天守の正面~The front of the Main Tower
天守1階~The first floor
天守2階~The second floor
本丸奥にある二階櫓~The two story turret at the back of the Main Enclosure
本丸からの眺め~A view from the Main Enclosure

その後~Later History

After the Meiji Restoration, Bicchu-Matsuyama Castle was abandoned and the buildings in Onegoya were demolished, but the buildings on the mountain were left as it would be. As a result, they were in ruin again. In the first Showa Era, a teacher, Tomonaru Shinano investigated the castle and reported to the public. Because of it, Takahashi Town started to preserve the castle. It was lastly designated as an Important Cultural Property in 1956.

三の丸の土塀も重要文化財です~The Important Cultural Property also includes this earthen walls at the Third Enclosure

私の感想~My Impression

It is surprising to know that many people have made great efforts to keep such a great castle on the mountain. I hope I can visit the whole castle area (from the foot to all the peaks of the mountain) someday.

大松山城跡~The castle ruins of Omatsuyama peak(taken by あけび from photoAC)

ここに行くには~How to get There

To the parking lot near the shuttle bus terminal:
If you want to go there by car, it takes about 30 minutes from the Kayo IC on Sanyo Expressway.
If you want to go there by bus, it takes about 10 minutes from Bicchu-Takahashi Station.
From Tokyo, Nagoya, or Osaka to Bicchu-Takahashi Station: Take the Shinkansen super express and transfer to Hakubi local line at Okayama Station.

リンク、参考情報~Links and References

備中松山城、高梁市公式ホームページ(Takahashi City Website)
・「歴史街道スペシャル、名城を歩く22、備中松山城」PHP研究所(Japanese Book)
・「よみがえる日本の城5」学研(Japanese Book)