Bitchū Matsuyama Castle
Bitchū Matsuyama Castle (備中松山城 Bitchū Matsuyama-jō?), also known as Takahashi Castle, is a castle located in Takahashi, Okayama Prefecture, Japan. It is not to be confused with Matsuyama Castle in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture. Along with being one of only twelve remaining original castles in the country, Bitchū Matsuyama Castle is notable as the castle with the highest elevation above sea level in Japan.
The castle was originally built on a nearby mountain in 1240 AD by Akiba Shigenobu. Takahashi Muneyasu constructed a castle on the modern site on Mount Gagyū in 1331, though the design of this castle differed from the one that stands on the site now. This fortification dates to 1683, when Mizunoya Sakyonosuke Katsumune built the castle that is on the site now. The tenshu was unusual in that it was only two stories tall, though a larger tenshu along the lines of Himeji Castle's would have been unnecessary as Bitchu Matsuyama Castle was located on a mountain, thus allowing a large field of vision. The lord's palace was constructed at the base of the mountain. Itakura Katsuyoshi became lord in 1744, and his descendants ruled the castle until the Meiji Restoration. After the Edo Era had ended, the castle was partly destroyed, but the rest of it was abandoned and slowly fell into disrepair. In 1929, restoration work was begun on the castle. Three parts were saved and still stand today: a short section of wall, the Nijū yagura, and the tenshu.
In recent years, parts of the castle have been reconstructed to augment the parts that remain, all of which have been named Important Cultural Properties by the National Government. It is also a popular place to visit because it is the only yamashiro, or mountain castle, to have an original tenshu. The castle is on a mountain and the road up to the summit does not go all the way, so to get to the castle, one must hike up a mountain path.
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