My second sightseeing stop in Ozu was at the city’s castle. Ozu Castle is on a hilltop above the Hijikawa River and was first constructed in the early 1300s but its buildings have been damaged and rebuilt several times since then. The most recent destruction was in 1888 when the castle’s main tower had to be demolished due to about 20 years of bad maintenance that had made it unsafe. In the 1950s reconstruction of the main tower began, though work on the tower would occur in phases and it wouldn’t be until 2004 when the project was finally finished. Whereas many other rebuilt castles in Japan are made of ferroconcrete, Ozu Castle’s main tower was mostly constructed with wood. Old photos and an old model of the castle allowed architects to reconstruct the tower to almost exactly how it looked in the past, and the people working on the tower even used traditional building techniques to help keep the structure faithful to its original design.
The interior of Ozu Castle has exhibits on the history of the castle and the town, and gives visitors a better look at the carpentry used in the castle’s construction. When I was at the castle there was a TV/film crew wandering around and it looked like there were in the early planning stages of whatever production they were working on.
From the top of the castle there are some nice views of Ozu and the surrounding countryside.
By the time I finished my sightseeing at Ozu Castle the shadows were getting really long and I needed to get back to Matsuyama, so I returned to the Ozu train station to catch the next express train heading that way. The train stations in small towns like Ozu aren’t as high tech as the ones in the big cities but there’s something undeniably charming about the stations in these less populated parts of the country. Whenever regular tourism resumes in Japan I’m hoping to visit more small towns like Ozu that are further off the tourist map.