A Castle Tour of Japan

Feb 3, 2018


Source : www.tourist-note.com

©Himeji Convention & Visitors Bureau/©JNTO

 

From the Château de Chambord in France to the Prague Castle in Czech Republic, castles have always caught our eye. Japan also has beautiful castles. With fortresses made of stone and wood, their grandeur is impressed on the minds of those who visit them. Let’s go on a tour of the castles of Japan, starting from the Aomori in the north and ending in Kumamoto in the south.

Hirosaki Castle in Aomori Prefecture

Source : www.tourist-note.com

©Hirosaki city/©JNTO

 

Also known as Takaoka Castle, Hirosaki Castle was the base for the Tsugaru clan who ruled over that area. Built in 1611, Hirosaki Castle is surrounded by a park that hosts 2600 cherry blossom trees and is one of the most famous places in Japan to enjoy Hanami, the flower viewing festival.

Opening hours – Castle 9:00 to 17:00, Botanical Garden 9:00 to 18:00.
*Open longer hours during the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival.
*Closed November 24th to March 31st.
Price – Adults 310 yen, Children 100 yen for the castle only.
Adults 510 yen, Children 160 for the castle and Botanical Garden.
Website – http://www.hirosakipark.jp/en/

Aizu Wakamatsu in Fukushima Prefecture

Source : www.tourist-note.com

This was once the castle of the famous Date Masamune, who was considered one of the greatest warlords in Tohoku. Aizu Wakamatsu changed ownership numerous times throughout its battle-worn history. Also called the Tsuruga Castle, the original structure became unstable and was destroyed in 1874. However, the keep was reconstructed in 1965, built of concrete to keep it standing through the less chaotic times up until now. Inside there is a museum and a gallery for visitors to enjoy.

Opening hours – Castle 8:30 to 17:00.
Price – Adults 410 yen, Children 150 yen.
Website – http://www.tsurugajo.com/language/eng/index.html

Odawara Castle in Kanagawa Prefecture

Source : www.tourist-note.com

Odawara Castle was the base of operations for the Hojo Clan, a powerful clan during the Sengoku Era. The original structure was destroyed in 1703 by an earthquake and although it was rebuilt quickly after, much of it was later disassembled and sold. In 1960 it was restored once again to its former glory and visitors can enjoy a historical museum right on the grounds as well as exhibits filled with armor and swords.

Opening hours – Castle 9:00 to 17:00, Botanical Garden 9:00 to 18:00.
*Closed the second Wednesday of December.
*Closed December 31st to January 1st.
Price – Adults 500 yen, Children 200 yen for the castle keep only.
Adults 600 yen, Children 220 for the castle keep and museum.
Website – http://www.city.odawara.kanagawa.jp/kanko/odawaracastle/

Matsumoto Castle in Nagano Prefecture

Source : www.tourist-note.com

Often called ‘Crow Castle’ for its black walls, the Matsumoto Castle is one of the oldest castle keeps still standing in Japan today. As it was mostly used as a military facility, the inside of the castle is uniquely built for that purpose. The stairs are steep and you will see many areas once used by archers and stone throwers. It is known for its beautiful view of the Japanese Alps and the Moon Viewing Festival in autumn where you can view the moon in its full glory from the sky or the water while enjoying a cup of Sake.

Opening hours – Castle 8:30 to 17:00.
*Closed December 29th to 31st.
Price – Adults 610 yen, Children 300 yen.
Website – http://www.matsumoto-castle.jp/

Inuyama Castle in Aichi Prefecture

Source : www.tourist-note.com

©JTA/ ©JNTO

 

Much like Matsumoto Castle, Inuyama is said to be one of the oldest castles still standing in Japan. Being privately owned by the Naruse Clan made it unique comparatively to other Japanese Castles. Here you can find a steep staircase that goes up four stories where you can enjoy the view of the surrounding area and the Kiso River.

Opening hours – Castle 9:00 to 17:00.
*Closed December 29th to 31st.
Price – Adults 550 yen, Children 110 yen.
Website – http://inuyama-castle.jp/

Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture

Source : www.tourist-note.com

©Himeji Convention & Visitors Bureau/©JNTO

 

Himeji Castle is considered one of most beautiful castles in Japan. Sometimes called the ‘White Heron Castle’ for its bright white exterior and bird-like design, it is probably the largest castle still standing in Japan today. Positioned nearby is Koko-en, a large garden that consists of nine different sections.

Opening hours – Castle 8:30 to 17:00.
*Closed December 29th and 30th.
Price – Adults 1000 yen, Children 300 yen for the castle only.
Adults 1040 yen, Children 360 yen for the castle and Koko-en Garden.
Website – http://www.city.himeji.lg.jp/guide/castle/

Nijo Castle in Kyoto Prefecture

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As the former residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu of the Edo-era Tokugawa Shoganate, the main attraction of Nijo Castle is the Ninomaru Palace that served as the shogun’s abode and office space during his stay in Kyoto. The keep itself was destroyed.

Opening hours – Castle 8:45 to 16:00.
*Closed December 26th to January 4th.
*Closed Tuesdays in the months of January, July, August, and December
**If Tuesday falls on a holiday, it will be closed the following day.
Price – Adults 600 yen, Children 350 yen.
Website – http://www2.city.kyoto.lg.jp/bunshi/nijojo/english/index.html

Osaka Castle in Osaka Prefecture

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Built on the remains of Ishiyama Honganji Temple, Osaka Castle was commissioned by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of the unifiers of Japan. The castle was soon destroyed after Hideyoshi’s death, but then rebuilt by Tokugawa Hidetada only to have its castle tower struck by lightning and burned down. Later in 1931 the castle tower was rebuilt and is now entirely modern inside. With an extensive museum and the Nishinomaru Garden, it’s a must-see for any visitor to Osaka.

Opening hours – Castle 9:00 to 17:00
*Hours extended during certain times in spring and summer. Check the website for more information.
*Closed December 28th to January 1st
Price – Adults 600 yen, Children under 15 free.
Website – http://www.osakacastle.net/english/

Matsuyama Castle in Ehime Prefecture

Source :

©JTA/ ©JNTO

 

Matsuyama Castle’s tower suffered a similar fate to its Osaka counterpart. It was destroyed in a lightning strike. The original five story tower was rebuilt as a three story tower which is what you will find on the property today. With a main keep, you can enjoy the scenery via chairlift that takes you up to the castle which sits on a steep hill.

Opening hours – Castle 8:30 to 17:00
Price – Adults 510 yen, Children 260 yen for the castle only.
Adults 1020 yen, Children 410 yen for the castle and scenic lift.
Website – http://www.matsuyamajo.jp/

Kumamoto Castle in Kumamoto Prefecture

Source : www.tourist-note.com

Kato Kiyomasa, an ally of Tokugawa Ieyasu, controlled Kumamoto Castle. It can be said that his skills in the area of castle design helped keep the castle from succumbing to old age and the country’s numerous earthquakes. On the grounds is the reconstructed Honmaru Goten Palace that features recreations of the lord’s receiving rooms. The Kumamoto Castle took some damage recently from the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes and is being repaired as we speak, so some parts may be closed off to the public until further notice.

Opening hours –8:30 to 18:00 March-November. 8:30 to 17:00 December-February.
*The castle itself is not accessible as well as much of the grounds due to the Kumamoto Earthquakes, but you may still observe the castle from the Ninomaru plaza and Kato shrine.
*Closed December 29th to December 31st
Price – Adults 500 yen, Children 200 yen
Website – http://www.manyou-kumamoto.jp/kumamoto-castle/en/

 

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