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Top 6 of Japan's Most Impressive Original Castles

Japan boasts its fair share of spectacular castles, enough to give any European nation a run for its money. But did you know there are only 12 ‘original’ castles still standing in Japan? An ‘original castle’ is one that’s survived intact since feudal age in 1867. Managing to withstand the ravages of war and unrelenting weather, Japan’s original castles are displays of the nation’s great architects and rich royal legacy.

Top 6 of Japan's Most Impressive Original Castles

CONTENTS

  • The Black Castle of Matsue

  • Kochi Castle

  • Matsumoto Castle

  • Hikone Castle

  • Inuyama Castle

  • Himeji Castle

  • The Black Castle of Matsue

    The Black Castle of Matsue

    The Black Castle of Matsue

    In the north of Shimane’s prefectural capital sits Matsue Castle, known colloquially as the black castle thanks to its striking black wooden panels which wrap around the bottom half of the building. Six-stories tall and with a history that dates back over 400 years, it’s one of Japan’s historical gems. The castle came to be at the turn of the 17th century when powerful daimyo lord Horio Yoshiharu relocated from Shizuoka Prefecture to Shimane. Under Yoshiharu’s good name, grandson Tadaharu built the castle and laid out the foundations for what later became the surrounding Matsue City. The castle design took inspiration from the outline of a watchtower, and from the top of the building today you can still admire incredible panoramic views of the city. An excellent place to visit for a half day adventure the castle grounds are also home to a small Shinto shrine and the western style Kounkaku mansion which houses a folklore museum and tea house.

    Matsue Castle
    Address
    Shimane Pref. Matsueshi Tonomachi 1-5
    Phone
    0852214030
    Remarks
    【URL】https://www.matsue-castle.jp/
  • Kochi Castle

    Kochi Castle

    Kochi Castle

    First constructed between 1601 - 1611, Kochi Castle is one of Kochi Prefecture’s major attractions. It was rebuilt in the 18th century following a devastating fire but remains one of the country’s last 12 original castles. It was initially home to the Yamauchi lords, rulers of the region, which at the time was known as Tosa. What makes this building so unique is that its donjon (main tower) was a multipurpose space used for military purposes and as a residence for the lords. The interior of the caste remains relatively untouched since the Edo Period, and if you scale the castle to the top floor lookout point, you’ll be gifted with spectacular views of the surrounding Kochi area, making it worth a visit for both history buffs and general tourists alike.

    Kochi Castle
    Address
    Kouchi Pref. Kouchishi Marunouchi 1-2-1
    Phone
    0888245701
    Remarks
    【URL】http://kochipark.jp/kochijyo/
  • Matsumoto Castle

    Matsumoto Castle

    Matsumoto Castle

    One of the nation’s most photogenic landmarks, you’ll find Matsumoto Castle right in the heart of Nagano Prefecture. The castle was the seat of government for Matsumoto Domain during the Edo Period and was built in the 16th century. Today it’s a major tourist attraction thanks in large park to its stunning surroundings. In spring pink cherry blossoms frame the picturesque castle as do firey red and orange leaves in autumn. Given that the castle town of Matsumoto which surrounds it is relatively humble in size, this is the perfect jumping off point for exploring the wider area.

    National Treasure Matsumoto Castle
    Address
    Nagano Pref. Matsumotoshi Marunouchi 4-1
    Phone
    0263322902
    Remarks
    【URL】https://www.matsumoto-castle.jp/
  • Hikone Castle

    Hikone Castle

    Hikone Castle

    Standing proud in Shiga Prefecture, Hikone Castle is one of only four castles in Japan that boasts its original keep. Built in 1622 by the Ii Clan, it’s withstood the times of political transition, wild weather and the everyday wear and tear of almost 400 years of existence to remain one of the nation's most beautiful castles. The castle grounds are also home to many attention-worthy landmarks including Genkyu En Garden, a tea ceremony garden once used by lords entertain guests, Rakurakuen Palace, the home of the Ii family and cherry blossoms trees that during spring bring an other-worldly atmosphere to the place.

    Hikone Castle
    Address
    Shiga Pref. Hikoneshi Konkichou 1-1
    Phone
    0749222742
    Remarks
    【URL】http://www.hikoneshi.com/jp/castle/
  • Inuyama Castle

    Inuyama Castle

    Inuyama Castle

    Sitting atop a small hill next to Kiso River, in Aichi Prefecture, Inuyama Castle was the creation of Oda Nobuyasu, Oda Nobunaga’s uncle who built the castle 1537 during the Muromachi period. Size-wise the castle may be humble, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in craftsmanship. A majority of the main keep's was built almost entirely with wood and rocks, perhaps one of the reasons it’s truly stood the test of time. Inside you can scale the stairs to reach the castle’s peak, which offers excellent views of the surrounding castle grounds and nearby Kiso River.

    A National Treasure, Inuyama Castle
    Address
    Aichi Pref. Inuyamashi Inuyama Kitakoken 65-2
    Phone
    0568611711
    Remarks
    【URL】https://inuyama-castle.jp/
  • Himeji Castle

    Himeji Castle

    Himeji Castle

    A list on Japanese castles wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Himeji Castle, one of the nation’s iconic and beautiful landmarks. Located in Hyogo Prefecture, this elegant, piece of historic architecture is not only striking in its bold, white beauty, massive size and stunning surrounds, but it’s an unparalleled feat of design ingenuity. Unlike many other castles of its age, Himeji was never succumbed to war, earthquake or fire and remains as breathtaking as ever. It dates back all the way to 1333 and is easily the most visited castle in the country. It’s impressive any time of year, but especially so in spring when the surrounding cherry blossom trees engulf the base of the castle in soft pink flowers.

    Himeji Castle (Shirasagijo)
    Address
    Hyogo Pref. Himejishi Honmachi 68
    Phone
    0792851146
    Remarks
    【URL】http://www.city.himeji.lg.jp/guide/castle/
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