Bitchu-Takahashi – Secret mountain castle

Matsuyama Castle

For some reason completely unknown to most tourists, including Japanese tourists, Bitchu-Takahashi (備中高梁) presented one of the most surprising castles we have ever visited. After visiting nearby cities and towns such as Okayama and Kurashiki, Bitchu-Takahashi  was a breath of fresh air. It’s an average town, but with a scattering of fascinating and traditional relics and architecture.

Budget travel tips

  • Many people find the town hard to get around, so first head to the Information Center, a minute up the road from the station. Pick up a map here and let the lovely assistants tell you the best way to get to the castle for you or your group.
  • Also recommended to buy the combination ticket for local tourist spots in the area at the Information Center. This will save you a few bucks and includes some nice shrines and museums.

Things to do

Bitchu Matsuyama Castle (備中松山城)

One of the least visited of the original castles in Japan, there were never more than a dozen people when we were there. Have a walk up to enjoy some mountain shrine and temple complexes, and some great views over the mountains. Our favourite castle in Japan, mainly due to how authentic and unspoilt it is.

Open: 9am to 5pm

Price: 300 yen

Takahashi Old Town

Take a stroll around the old town, which also has some interesting shrines. You really need to get the combination ticket mentioned above to enjoy it all in a day, otherwise you will be spending a bit too much for some of the rather small tourist spots here. But if you are short for time or money and have done enough shrine etc, it would be perfectly fine to just walk through the old town, then up to the castle.

Takahashi Museum of History

A quaint old museum, which seems to be set in some old school building. Full of all kinds of antiques and odd pieces from the past few centuries of Japan. A nice mix, from 1970’s electronics to old wooden carts.

Open: 9am to 5pm

Price: 300 yen

How to get there

With a Japan Rail Pass or Chugoku pass

From Okayama, take a Limited Express train to Bitchu-Takahashi station (35 mins).

Without a pass

From Okayama, take the JR Hakubi Line to Bitchu-Takahashi station (50 mins, 840 yen).

Recommended hostels and cheap hotels

It’s slim pickings here, so most people stay in Okayama or Matsue and visit here in-between. There are lots of budget options in these cities.

Sauna and Capsule Hotel Hollywood 

Right outside the station, this cheap capsule hotel (men only) does the job. Clean, quiet and English signs to help those not familiar with capsule hotels or Japanese spas. Check prices at Agoda and Booking.com.

Compare more at HostelWorldBooking.com and Agoda.

Map

Got a comment, a tip or some advice?