Travel

Authentic and Majestic: Ozu Castle in Ehime

In September 2012 I had a long weekend and decided to go on a small castle tour through Ehime Prefecture. After visiting Imabari Castle and Uwajima Castle, the next one to explore was Ozu Castle.

smilie Visited: September 24th 2012 smilie

Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture

Getting to Ozu Castle

Ozu Castle (大洲城) is located in Ozu City, Ehime Prefecture (map) on Shikoku.

You can see the castle already from within the train. From JR (Iyo) Ozu Station it’s a short (~ 20 mins) and pleasant walk towards the castle with many chances to take nice photos along the way!

Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture

History of Ozu Castle

Ozu Castle is also known as Jizougatake Castle (地蔵ヶ嶽城) and was built by Utsunomiya Toyofusa in 1331.

The current reconstruction of the castle is based on a structure that dates back to the Keicho Era (1596-1614). Among the many lords of the castle were Wakisaka Yasuharu, Kobayakawa Takakage, Todo Takatora (see also Imabari Castle) and Toda Katsutaka.

After the Meiji Restoration a fire destroyed the main turret.

Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture

The Current Main Keep (2004)

In 2004 the keep was reconstructed after old photos of the Meiji Era and wooden models have been studied carefully. These historical materials made it possible to rebuild it as precisely as possible.

Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture

They also tried to use the same material as back then such as wood and mud.

Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture

Inside the castle’s keep is a small museum. You’ll also run into “Ryoma Sakamoto” a lot who was born in Shikoku (Tosa, Kochi Prefecture to be precise).

Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture

As you can see I visited in late September 2012.

Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture

Most castles usually exhibit armor and weapons, but Ozu Castle focuses on architecture with a lot of wooden models.

Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture

This lovely done model shows the construction of Ozu Castle back in the Keicho Era.

Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture

This model of a roof section shows how complex Japan’s old building techniques were.

Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture

This is my entrance ticket to the castle.

Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture

From the castle grounds you have a great view over Ozu City. The large Hijikawa River runs through the city.

Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture

I mentioned earlier that you can see the castle from within the train, but you can – vice versa – also see the trains from up there.

Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture

The castle grounds are spacious, so there’s more to see than just the main keep.

Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture

A lot of the castle walls still remain.

Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture

And there’s also a tiny garden where you can relax and enjoy the view of the castle.

Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture

Besides the castle’s main keep and the walls, there are also some small yagura left.

Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture

Ozu City is a pleasant and quiet city that deserves to be explored. If you have the time, you should do so after visiting the castle!

Stay tuned. I’ll show you around in Ozu City next time. :D

 

T O U R I S T     I N F O R M A T I O N
Opening Hours: 9:00-17:00 (enter before 16:30)
Holidays: no closing days
Entrance fee: 500 yen (adult); 200 yen (children until jr. high)
Time required: at least 30 mins
TEL: (+81)0893-24-1146
Website: http://www.city.ozu.ehime.jp/
Access: JR (Iyo) Ozu Station: Either walk for 20 mins or take a taxi (~ 5 mins).

8 Comments

    • If you start early, very early, you might be able to pull it off, but I can’t recommend it.
      Especially Uwajima City has so much to offer that you don’t want to stay for the castle only! ;)
      Ehime Prefecture has so many great things to offer. I previously also visited Matsuyama City. You could easily spend a whole week in Ehime Prefecture. :)

  • Another well done piece and I especially liked the pictures that showed the Castle construction. I was wondering J., why didn’t the Japanese build the turrets out of stone? Could it be because the Japanese hadn’t used the arch in the construction of buildings and their methods couldn’t support the added weight of stone? Did the Japanese not use brick techniques or concrete during that period? Did the Japanese of olden days built any Castles using the Arch? I remember seeing many arches internal to the Roman fortifications and not just in the bridges or aqueducts. I’ve seen some Japanese bridges using arches, though I’m not sure of their age. Do you see any evidence of arches used inside the Japanese castles in wood or stone during that time period? :D Thanks again for great photos!!

    • I’m not an expert when it comes to castle architecture I fear. You should certainly check out “Japanese Castle Explorer” as he writes about architectural features of the castles as well and knows much more about it than I do! ;)

      Of course stones have been used. They play a big role. Almost all castle walls, the moats etc. are made using stones.
      As for the main tower it depends when it was build as methods have changed throughout the centuries. Why do you think so many castles were destroyed during fires? A lot of wood has been used, especially inside and if you ever visit the original castle towers (only 12 are left in Japan), you can observe that very well.

      Original Japanese castles have mostly extremely low ceilings, so I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen what you would consider as arches. ^^;

      I’m sorry that I can’t (at least not with 100% confidence) answer your questions to your satisfaction, but maybe you’ll like this article about “Japanese Castle Architecture“. :D
      You would think I’d know more about Japanese castle architecture considering how many castles I’ve visited, but like I said only 12 of them were still in their original state.

  • Thanks for those great links. I found most of my answers at the second link and it gave me the hints I needed to query for the the rest of my answers. It appears that there was a good reason for the towers being built with wood: to withstand the earthquakes. Most importantly, the Japanese didn’t have to fear invasions like the Europeans did, so their castles didn’t contain the entire village/city inside massive walls and gates and didn’t need to be so massive, though some certainly are huge!

    The Japanese didn’t have concrete, since apparently that is something rather unique to the Romans (that they mysteriously perfected). Even today we are discovering that the Roman concrete was superior even compared to its modern day cousin: Portland concrete. They have discovered that the Roman concrete was able to withstand earthquakes, while stone structures alone couldn’t. Also, I found out that use of the curved arch was very helpful in resisting lateral shocks caused by earthquakes, but the Japanese didn’t use that particular architectural feature inside their buildings.

    I always loved the beauty of the Japanese castles, but had considered their protective capabilities less in comparison to the fortifications of Europe and the Middle East, but I found out that each type of building style worked very well to accommodate the people, situation and terrain that existed in each environment. Thanks again for the help J.!!

    • Hey Bud!
      Glad you were able to find what you were looking for!
      Very interesting indeed. Thanks for adding some extra information about the Romans. Surely didn’t know about that.
      I remember some Roman buildings in my hometown that still stand there nowadays (well, ruins). Yeah, the Roman Empire was huge! They even came to Germany!

      The Japanese had some unique techniques to defend their castles – or to find out when enemies were intruding.
      Did you ever hear about the “nightingale floors” of Nijo Castle in Kyoto? And that’s just one example. Gotta love those “nightingale floors”!! :D

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