Matsumae Castle

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Matsumae Castle
Matsumae, Hokkaidō, Japan
Type Hirajiro (flatland castle)
Height Three stories
Site information
Condition The original gate to the inner citadel (itself a reconstruction) and remnants of the stone walls and embankments remain
Site history
Built 1606
Built by Matsumae clan
In use 1596 to Meiji Restoration
Materials Earth, stone, and wood
Demolished 1949

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. Retrieved 2013-12-14. 
  2. ^ Hinago, Motoo (1986). Japanese Castles. Kodansha International Ltd. and Shibundo. p. 130-131. ISBN 0870117661. 

Additional 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