Matsumae Castle

Matsumae, Japan

Matsumae Castle is a castle located in Matsumae in Hokkaidō, Japan, and is the northernmost castle in Japan. The only traditional style Edo period castle in Hokkaidō, it was the chief residence of the han (estate) of the Matsumae clan.

First built in 1606 by Matsumae Yoshihiro under orders from the Tokugawa shogunate, which required his clan to defend the area, and by extension the whole of Japan, from the Ainu 'barbarians' to the north. It burned down in 1637 but was rebuilt in 1639. It once controlled all passage through Hokkaidō to the rest of Japan.

The present castle complex, which dates from 1854, was constructed to deter attacks by foreign naval forces. Only the 30-metre-high tenshu (main tower) and a gatehouse survived destruction following the Meiji Restoration, which began in 1868. However, the tenshu burned down in 1949 and a concrete replica was built in 1960.

Today, all of the castle site is now a public park. Approximately 8,000 cherry trees are planted in Matsumae Park, which is approximately 150,000 m2 around the site of Matsumae Castle. More than 200,000 people visit the Matsumae Sakura Festival every spring to see cherry blossoms.

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Matsumae, Japan
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Founded: 1606
Category: Castles and fortifications in Japan

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3.9/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

peter simpson (3 years ago)
I was lucky enough to have lived in Matsumae for five months this winter (2020) Every day I walked the grounds of the castle and it never got old. Matsumae Castle is considered to be the last of the traditional Japanese castles and with 250 types of 10,000 Sakura, it would be crazy not to visit. I will be returning this spring to see the cherry blossoms.
Abii Muru (3 years ago)
Was there during autumn. The changing of the autumn leaves was beautiful but I bet in spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom it would’ve been even better. If you’re visiting during the cherry blossom season, do check out the cherry blossom park, it has more than 10 species of cherry blossoms ? the selling point for me was the scenic environment, the museum was just so so.
Laurie Gilfoy (3 years ago)
Lovely spot. Especially during the cherry blossoms. Would recommend as a day trip from Hakodate.
Angel nk (3 years ago)
I was so blessed that I visited here when the spring season hasn't ended yet. So I got to see sakura blooming all the way here. When I visited, it is so windy and cold but it was nice trip.
sm y (5 years ago)
The cherry blossom trees are still in bloom here and there are many different varieties of cherry blossoms. Beautiful. Visited on 10 May 2019.
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