Although many castles can be found around Japan, Uwajima-jo is one of only twelve with an original main keep. Sometimes referred to as Tsurushima-jo, it was built by the local feudal lord, Takatora Todo, in 1596. The area was ruled by Hidemune Date (oldest son of Masamune Date) and his descendants, 9 generations in all, from 1615 until the Meiji Restoration.
The main keep is a small, three-story structure, and it sits in a wide clearing on the top of a hill, 80 meters above sea level. It was rebuilt by the second Date feudal lord around 1666. Although not very large, the inside of the keep is definitely worth seeing. There are also sweeping views from the top floor of Uwajima City and its harbor.
In addition to the main keep, there are other original structures: a couple of gates, a weapons storehouse, and many impressive stone walls. In a clearing in front of the keep there are also stones that were once the foundation for other castle structures.
Uwajima-jo sits in a park that is open from 6:00am to 6:30pm from April to September, and from 6:00am to 5:00pm from October to March. Entrance to the park is free. It is a short ten minute walk from Uwajima Station to the bottom of the steps that lead to the castle. Most of that walk is through a traditional Japanese covered shopping arcade. Depending on your pace, it is another ten to fifteen minute climb to the top.
The main keep and a small local museum are open from 9am to 4pm, although the keep stays open until 5pm from April through September. Entrance to the keep is 200 yen and it is open every day of the year. The museum is free and is closed on Mondays (or on Tuesday when a holiday falls on a Monday), and from December 29 to January 3.
A lovely town, Uwajima is off the beaten path and is not well known, so there are rarely many tourists. Uwajima Station can be reached by limited express train in about 90 minutes from Matsuyama Station.
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