Japanese Castles: Ozu Castle, Ehime Prefecture, Shikoku
Ozu Castle 大洲城
Also known as Jizogatake Castle, the castle in Ozu, Ehime on Shikoku is, like most Japanese castles, a reconstruction of the original, but with an unusual difference.
Whereas most are constructed out of ferro-concrete, Ozu Castle is reconstructed out of traditional materials using traditional methods.
History of Ozu Castle
Located on a bluff overlooking the Hijikawa River, a castle was built here in the early 14th century by Utsunomniya Toyofusa after he was appointed Governor of Iyo Province.
During the Warring States Period (mid 15th to mid 16th century) and up to the Edo Period, Ozu Castle changed hands many times and the castle's current design probably dates from the late 16th century.
The Kato Clan held the castle from 1617 until the beginning of the Meiji Period when the castle was abandoned. In 1888 the keep was torn down, but the four castle turrets, or yagura, were spared. The reconstruction was completed in 2004.
Ozu Castle is unusual in several respects, one being that the keep has four floors, an unlucky number in Japan, as it is associated with death.
Also unusual is the corridors that connect the keep to two of the turrets. However the most unusual is that it was reconstructed using wood and traditional materials in the traditional way, possible because of a model of the castle from the Edo Period, and Meiji era photos were still available for reference.
The displays in Ozu Castle do not feature armor and swords like most castles, rather they focus on the construction. As well as the original model there are also displays showing the original castle being constructed and cut-away models detailing the construction methods used.
For anyone interested in the architectural and engineering aspects of Japanese castles, Ozu Castle is a must see. From the top floor there are great views over the surrounding area.
930 Ozu, Ozu, Ehime 795-0012
Tel: 089 324 1146
Hours: Open from 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week, all year round.
Admission: Entrance is 500 yen or 800 yen combined with Garyu Sanso, a nearby villa.
Ozu Castle Access
Ozu Castle is slightly less than 2 kilometers from the JR Iyoozu station on the Yosan Line, 40 minutes from Matsuyama by Limited Express.
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