A park on the site of a leading example of an Edo period (1603-1868) castle, featuring stunning palace-style architecture and flowers that change through the four seasons.
In 1604, the feudal warlord Mori Tadamasa, who was said to be a master of castle construction, began the 12-year process of building Tsuyama Castle in a domain that had previously been called Tsuruyama. Kakuzan Park has been developed on the site of that castle. Originally, Tsuyama Castle was a leading example of the flatland-mountain style of castle, which made use of hills located on plains, and was designed for use in battle, featuring a five-level castle keep, as well as arrow and gun loops, and holes through which stones could be dropped, making it a castle that symbolized the heyday of Japanese castle construction techniques.
Moreover, although it was designed for battle, a number of turrets stood within its walls, the largest of which the Bitchu-yagura is believed to have been where the feudal lord and his family lived; this turret contained tatami mats throughout, which is almost entirely without precedent in ordinary turrets, and it also featured the ceiling coverings characteristic of the goten (palace) style of architecture. However, all such buildings were torn down as a result of the 1873 Ordinance for Disposal of Castles.
It was subsequently developed in 1900 as the ruins of Tsuyama Castle, and was reborn as Kakuzan Park. In 2005, a replica of the unusual Bitchu-yagura was built to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the commencement of the construction of Tsuyama Castle, becoming a place where visitors could take a step back in time.
Today, visitors flock to the park throughout all four seasons, not only for the Tsuyama Cherry Blossom Festival, which is the biggest event in Tsuyama, but also to see the impressive displays of wisteria and Hirado azalea (May), red spider lily (September), and autumn leaves (November). The several thousand cherry trees are particularly splendid, and the park has been chosen as one of the top 100 sites in Japan for cherry blossom viewing. In addition, it was designated a national historic site in 1963.
Address: Sange , Tsuyama City, Okayama
Hours open to visitors: 08:40-19:00 (October-April: until 17:00; April 1-15: open 07:30-22:00 during the Tsuyama Cherry Blossom Festival)
Admission Fee: 300 yen for those aged 16 or above (free entry to the Bitchu-yagura turret)
Closed: December 29-31
Directions: 10 minutes on foot from Tsuyama Station (1 hour 50 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station) on the JR Tsuyama Line. (Car) About 15 minutes from the Tsuyama or Innosho interchange of the Chugoku Expressway (2 hours from Shin-Osaka Station; free car park available)