Takamatsu Castle is a place that I had been very close to visiting but never really had the “time” to visit until 2016. I have seen it many times but I have never actually entered the castle grounds, until the 2016 Setouchi Triennale. I heard from David Billa over at Setouchi Explorer that they were having a summer event and found out that there was free admission at night. I was really lucky to go at night as it was a magical experience.
Takamatsu Castle is also called Tamamo Park. The castle is no longer standing and only 3 turrets have been reconstructed. The exterior castle walls are really nice and the moat is pretty beautiful at the right times. The Takamatsu-Chikko Station side is the main side and you will almost always see it if you are exploring the city. If you don’t plan to go into the castle grounds, the north side is a must see as you can see one of the turrets along the castle walls as well as a second one on the coast. It is fun to take photos of the turret looking out into the harbour as the ferries come in and out of Takamatsu. The south and east sides of Takamatsu Castle is not really interesting.
Inside the castle walls is Tamamo Park. The park is really beautiful but it is like any other garden in Japan. I cannot comment on what you can or cannot do in the day, as I went at night after any daytime activities would be closed. It is a little difficult to navigate the park at night as many areas are really dark with no lights. They do thankfully light up the main path around the park so you don’t have to worry too much.
At night, there are often different events and I was really happy to visit in August. The event may change and I have no idea how often they have it. They usually have events at the same time special events are held within Takamatsu, especially during the Setouchi Triennale. You have to check their homepage to really find out when it is open at night and when it is not.
The best point of going at night is that you get to see the “light up & mist shower”. When you see pictures, you will realize why you should go. They take the central stream in the middle of the garden and they pump a mist through it; the beautiful mist is lit up to make it look like a mysterious fog. I was giddy like a boy in a chocolate factory taking photos here and there and hoping that they would turn out well. I was also enjoying it as much as I could and spent a lot more time than I really needed to.
At night, you can easily walk around the entire park but you cannot do everything. There are buildings that you can enter for various activities but they will be closed at night. You can easily go twice as the night events are often free, but sometimes they are not. You really just have to check the official website, but unfortunately that is not in English.
Tamamo-jo, Takamatsu Castle, Tamamo Park, or whatever you choose to call it, is a beautiful place. I was really happy that I was able to visit this park at night and see the mist. I don’t know if I’d go again as there is a lot of other things that I would rather do, but on my next trip to Takamatsu, you can be sure that it will be on my list of things to possibly do while I’m in town.
- Tamamo Park (Official Site – Japanese Only)
- Takamatsu Castle (J Castle)
- Takamatsu Castle (japan-guide.com)
- Takamatsu Castle (Takamatsu Official City Website – English)
- Tamamo Park (Life Takamatsu)
Thanks for the shout out.
The main turret, the Tsukimi Yagura, is actually the original. I forgot the details of the other ones, but I think that they’re also the originals, but have been dismantled and then rebuilt at some point. I know that the one outside the walls has been moved too.
The overall layout of the castle grounds was much larger and quite different under the Matsudaira rule.
I have never seen the mist, it may be a new feature this year.
When they visit Tamamo-jo/koen sometimes some people totally overlook the main building because it’s not a “castle”.
One must not forget that a “castle” in Japan is quite different from a castle in Europe. (in Europe it’s one building, in Japan, it’s many buildings within walls).
Also, the building while recent (during the Taisho period) is a fascinating one as it mixed traditional and modern architectural styles.
It’s not always open, though, only when it hosts events.
How could I not give a shout out as you did steer me there for the night show. 🙂
There are so many little details that just can’t be discovered until you have more time to look them up. Never easy to find the information in English.