Katsuyama Castle Museum: Art, History and Dragons

The tallest of its kind, Katsuyama Castle Museum watches over Katsuyama City and the Kuzuryu River, whose namesake, a nine-headed dragon deity, is depicted as nine separate dragons crawling upon the castle walls.  Priceless art collections are held within, but for a mere 500 yen, visitors can enjoy them as well as a wonderful view from the top.

Top Floor

Upon entering the castle, the recommended course is to take the elevator to the top floor.  Here, visitors can view a diorama of the Katsuyama area, see into the lives of people who lived at Heisenji Hakusan Shrine, and view a depiction of the goddess who inspired a monk to build the shrine. URL

An amazing 360 degree view of Katsuyama and the surrounding areas is just outside on the castle’s balcony.  It’s perfect for photos, and visitors can even use powerful binoculars free of charge.

Fourth Floor

On the 4th floor, visitors will find displays of the founder’s personal China art collection, including ancient personal stamps, called inkan in Japan, a culture that continues even today.

Displays outline Katsuyama’s history, one showing how small Japanese people used to be.  A kago which was used to carry wealthy individuals around is barely large enough for a modern child to ride in.

Third Floor

Various displays related to samurai include guns, swords, bows, body armor, and even a helmet that is suspiciously similar to a popular comic book hero.  Who knew that Batman had a time machine and masqueraded as a samurai in ancient Japan!

Second Floor

Much of the second floor is home to the “Four Seasons of Japan” mural by Toshimitsu Imai.  Golden shachi, or tiger-headed dolphins top this castle and replicas can be found here.  Perhaps they are an homage to those found atop Nagoya Castle.

There is also an authentic yagura, or a scaffold-like stage that is used in local festivals.  Visitors can climb up into, and play the drum that sits there.  It is easy to feel the excitement of a Japanese matsuri when vigorously striking the drum.

Finally, on the first floor, visitors can see a statue of the castle founder and a diorama of the castle before completing the tour.

Main collections displayed at the Katsuyama Castle Museum:

・Folding screen depicting a map of the Battle of Kawanakajima

・Folding screen depicting a map of the Battle of Shizugatake

・Private embroidery collection from the China Qing Dynasty

・Nishiwaki Goseki Calligraphy Collection

・”Four Seasons of Japan” mural by Toshimitsu Imai