Matsumae Castle

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Matsumae Castle
Matsumae, Hokkaidō, Japan
TypeHirajiro (flatland castle)
HeightThree stories
Site information
ConditionThe original gate to the inner citadel (itself a reconstruction) and remnants of the stone walls and embankments remain
Site history
Built byMatsumae clan
In use1596 to Meiji Restoration
MaterialsEarth, stone, and wood

Matsumae Castle (松前城, Matsumae-jō) is a castle located in Matsumae in Hokkaidō, Japan, and is the northernmost castle in Japan.[1] 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 requiring 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.[2]

All of the castle site is today a public park.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "松前城" [Matsumae Castle]. Dijitaru Daijisen (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2013. OCLC 56431036. Archived from the original on 2007-08-25. Retrieved 2013-12-14.
  2. ^ Hinago, Motoo (1986). Japanese Castles. Kodansha International Ltd. and Shibundo. pp. 130–131. ISBN 0870117661.

Further reading[edit]

  • Schmorleitz, Morton S. (1974). Castles in Japan. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co. ISBN 0-8048-1102-4.

Coordinates: 41°25′47″N 140°06′30″E / 41.429833°N 140.108389°E / 41.429833; 140.108389