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Himeji Castle

The most impressive of Japan’s scant dozen original castles, Himeji-jo is also known as the “white egret castle” or the “white heron castle” for its stately white walls. The main tower is particularly interesting, but the grounds are worth exploring in their entirety. The castle buildings were renovated recently and were re-opened in March 2015…

Type: Castles  |  Category: Kansai  |  Tags: , ,

Hiroshima Castle

Hiroshima Castle, also called the Carp Castle, is a good example of a castle built on a plain in the center of a city as opposed to hilltop and mountaintop castles. Its main keep is five stories tall, and its grounds are surrounded by a moat. Also within the castle’s precincts are a shrine, some…

Type: Castles  |  Category: Western Honshu  | 

Inuyama Castle

The main attraction of the small town of Inuyama near Nagoya is its historic castle. Built in 1537 and surviving all natural disasters, wars and ownership changes, it is known as the oldest castle in Japan and was designated as a National Treasure in 1952. It is also the only privately-owned castle in the country…

Type: Castles  |  Category: Central Honshu  |  Tags: ,

Kochi Castle

Kochi Castle is one of only twelve Japanese castles to have survived the fires, wars and other catastrophes of the post feudal age. It was first constructed between 1601 and 1611, but most of its main buildings date from 1748 when they were reconstructed after a fire. The castle used to be the seat of…

Type: Castles  |  Category: Shikoku  |  Tags: , ,

Kumamoto Castle

A large and extremely well fortified castle, Kumamoto-jo’s history dates back to 1467, when the original fortifications on the site were first built. It is considered one of the three premier castles in Japan, along with Himeji Castle and Matsumoto Castle. Thirteen structures in the castle complex are designated as Important Cultural Property. The castle…

Type: Castles  |  Category: Kyushu  |  Tags: ,

Matsue Castle

Completed in 1611, a few years after the final battle of feudal Japan, Matsue Castle is one the dozen original castles left in Japan, meaning that its main tower has survived to this day through fires, earthquakes and the anti-feudal demolitions of the Meiji Period. Sometimes called the “black castle” after its dark, austere exterior,…

Type: Castles  |  Category: Western Honshu  |  Tags: , ,

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle is one of Japan’s few original castles standing, and is, very justifiably, one of only four listed as national treasures. Of these, it is the second oldest. Known as the “Crow Castle” due to its unusual black colour, Matsumoto Castle was built during the late 16th century. The internal gun museum and an…

Type: Castles  |  Category: Central Honshu  |  Tags: , ,

Matsuyama Castle

Constructed between 1602 and 1628, Matsuyama Castle is one of Japan’s twelve “original castles” which have survived the post-feudal era since 1868 intact. It is also one of the most interesting castles in Japan. Perched atop Mount Katsuyama, a steep hill in the city centre, the castle’s main circle of defense (Honmaru) is accessible through…

Type: Castles  |  Category: Shikoku  |  Tags: ,

Nijo Castle

Construction of Nijo Castle was begun in 1601 by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and it is now listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. The architecture was ostentatious for its day – designed to illuminate the Shogun’s growing strength in contrast to the emperor’s dwindling power. Don’t miss the ‘nightingale floors’,…

Type: Castles  |  Category: Kyoto  |  Tags: , , ,

Osaka Castle

One of Japan’s most famous castles, Osaka castle played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century under the rule of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The imposing castle structure towers five stories on the outside and eight stories on the inside, and is built on a tall stone foundation. Equally attractive are the…

Type: Castles  |  Category: Kansai  |  Tags: ,

Shuri Castle

Originally built in the late 1300s, Shuri Castle was the palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom and played an integral role in the political unification of Okinawa Hontou. Although it was destroyed in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, the reconstructions are beautifully done and convey a sense of the glory of days gone by. The…

Type: Castles  |  Category: Okinawa  |  Tags: , ,