Travel

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

In September 2012 I started a short “castle tour” through Shikoku on a long weekend. In previous journeys I already went to Matsuyama, Kochi, Marugame and Takamatsu Castles. My destination this time was Ehime Prefecture and after visiting Imabari Castle, I was off to Uwajima Castle.

 

Visited: September 23rd 2012

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

Uwajima Castle (宇和島城) is located in Ehime Prefecture, Shikoku (map). It’s one of the very few original castle structures that are still left in Japan. Only 12 castles (and yes, I’ve been to all of them!) have managed to retain their original Edo period main tower. Uwajima Castle is one of them.

 

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

History of Uwajima Castle:

Lord Toyotomi Hideyoshi provided Todo Takatora some land in Uwajima and being an excellent castle-builder he started the construction of Uwajima Castle there in 1595. It took almost 6 years (1596-1601) to complete the main tower and related structures.

After the Battle of Sekigahara (1600), Todo Takatora relocated to Imabari and built Imabari Castle there. He left Uwajima Castle in the hands of Tomita Nobutaka.

From 1615 the castle was ruled by the Date Family. Date Munetoshi performed some repairs and expansion to the original castle buildings, adding some turrets, stone walls and gates in 1671. However, the fundamental structure as the work of the great castle builder Todo Takatora remains until today.

Unlike most other castles in Japan it has survived the “Meiji Era” as well as wars, fires, typhoons or earthquakes.

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

Uwajima Castle was registered as an Important Cultural Property in 1934.

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

You can see the Date family crest everywhere around the castle. It’s a rather cute one with two birds facing each other.

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

You can take a break surrounded by white sheets with the Date family crest while having a look at the beautiful castle tower.

 

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

The Main Tower of Uwajima Castle

The main tower has three tiers and is about 15.8 m high. It was reconstructed by Date Munetoshi around 1666.

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

The castle tower is rather small compared to the one of other castles. Some even say it looks kind of “cute” – and it surely does!

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

A close-up of the upper part of the castle tower.

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

Here you can see a few miniature replicas of the castle tower.

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

As with all original castles, everything is wooden inside and it’s difficult to climb up the stairs. Personally I really love it, though. Often the ceiling is so low that you have to be careful not to hit your head (especially when climbing the stairs).

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

On the top floor you can take a rest and enjoy the old black-and-white shots of the castle.

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

As you can see in the photo there was still another building (on the right) that is gone now. The tower looks exactly the same, though.

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

A photo of the castle tower taken from a higher point so you can see Uwajima City in the background.

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

Shown on this photo is the Ote Gate (追手門) which is gone now. The photo was taken in the early years of the Meiji Period (1868~).

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

The “Black Gate” (黒門) and the “Black Turret” (黒門矢倉) are also gone now. The photo was taken during the Meiji Era.

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

From the top floor of the castle you’ll have a great view! It only has 3 floors, but as it’s on a hilltop it offers a beautiful panorama view.

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

You can see the mountain range and a part of Uwajima City.

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

You can also see the ocean and a few smaller islands sitting in the beautiful Bungo Channel.

 

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

Yamazato Soko (Warehouse)

Very close to the castle’s main tower is the Yamazato Soko (山里倉庫, Castle Hill Museum). It is a warehouse and was originally built in the third fortress as an arms storehouse in 1845.

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

There aren’t many arm storehouses that remained, so this one is quite special. It was transferred to its current location in 1966 and is now a museum featuring items connected to the local history.

Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture

Please note: While the castle tower can be visited every day, the museum is closed on Mondays!

 

Travel Tip:

I left Takamatsu in the morning to visit Imabari Castle and still had enough time to go to Uwajima Castle afterwards without being rushed. If you need to, you can easily do Imabari and Uwajima Castles in one day!

 

Tourist Information:
Opening Hours:
9:00-16:00 (Oct – Mar); 9:00-17:00 (Apr – Sept)
Holidays:
Always open, only the “Warehouse” Museum next to the castle is closed on: December 29th – January 3rd; Mondays (or Tuesday if Monday is a national holiday)
Entrance fee:
200 yen
Time required:
at least 1h
Contact:
〒798-0060 Ehime-ken, Uwajima-shi, Marunouchi, 1 Chome−1 // (+81)089-522-3934
Access:
About 20 mins walk from JR Uwajima Station.
Please note: Prices as well as opening hours / holidays are subject to change. Please make sure to follow the provided link to the official website to check out the latest updates.

15 Comments

    • It certainly is similar to Inuyama Castle size-wise. Personally I like both, but I simply adore castles that are close to the ocean, so Uwajima Castle might be the winner. *g*

  • I saw Uwajima castle when I revisited Kyushu. I stayed overnight in Uwajima, which is a pleasant town. It also has a lovely park, Tensha-en, thanks to one of the Dates, and a small Date museum. There is a very old fertility shrine, Taga-Jinja, with the usual symbols. I think Uwajima was worth staying a bit longer than just for the castle.

    Of course, I like to take my time to see things.

    I will go to Inuyama Castle this November, and look forward to it.

    • Oh, I actually stayed overnight in Uwajima and went to the fertility shrine and some other sights on the next day. I wanted to write about it in a separate blog post, though.

      I hope you’ll enjoy your trip in November. Inuyama Castle is really nice! :D

        • Actually, this was the second time I visited Matsuyama. Of course, it is an agreeable city, and the castle is impressive, though partially rebuilt. The gardens I found disappointing. I stayed at a hotel across from the Dôgo Onsen. Their restaurant did a great katsuo tataki. Fun shopping arcade near by.

  • One of my favourite castles in Japan thanks to its location! Sounds if you haven’t had the chance to visit the terrace fields in nearby Yusu though… that’s a nice place as well.
    As a geographer, I have to throw in a small correction — you can’t see the Seto Inland Sea from the castle. Instead you can enjoy a nice view on Bungo Channel separating Shikoku from Kyushu – a picture-perfect ria coast.

    • Thanks for the correction! :D

      I had a chance to explore Uwajima City, but not Yusu. I’ll be back in Shikoku in the future, so eventually I hope I’ll get to go there as well.

  • Big fan of Uwajima Castle. Did you get to explore the town at all? Dekoboko Museum or see the bull sumo? I missed the bull sumo when I went and would love to see your photos/thoughts from it. That is if you went!

  • Zooming,

    I was just piddling around on Ken’s site and decided to look at “ZoomingJapan” since I’d read your comments there and WOW, what a surprise I found. I love the pictures and descriptions of the lay of the land and the views. I really like this blog and have just begun to explore… so much to see here! I look forward to visiting more often now, and thank you for all of your hard work; it will certainly widen my horizons and brighten my e-travels greatly. I’m really looking forward to this new adventure. P.S. Love the kitty cursor!