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Goin’ Japanesque!

4 Castles You Must See and Why

Have you ever seen a Japanese castle? Not online—but in real life? If you see one for real, you’re overwhelmed by its impressiveness and beauty. Today we carefully selected 4 castles you must absolutely visit out of so many that are out there, and have reasons for why. Think back on what you learn here as you go for your own visit.


1. Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle was built around 1593 to 1594. It’s currently designated as a national treasure and has the oldest castle towers that are five-stories, six-floors (five-stories outside, 6-floors built inside) in Japan. The towers were preserved from the Sengoku Period (1467 – 1603) and the building is about 10 stories high. It’s impressive.


<Why We Recommend>

Matsumoto Castle is unique for the black used on its outer walls. It’s said to be a sign of the architect, Ishikawa’s, loyalty to Hideyoshi Toyotomi. When it’s lit up at night, the contrast of the black and the white is so cool!

It’s famous as a castle for battling and has spaces for unleashing arrows upon enemies and dropping rocks. The stairs inside are famous for being extremely steep. Be sure to climb up to the tower for a complete look of the city Matsumoto. Information: Map


2. Himeji Castle

Along with Horyu-ji Temple in Nara, Himeji Castle is famous for being the first place in Japan registered as a UNESCO site. Of course, it’s also a designated national treasure. The large towers are five-stories on the outside and seven-floors on the inside with one basement floor and six above-ground floors. It’s never experienced either a battle or fire in its 400+ history, a rarity for castles. For that reason, it’s in great condition and also called by “Shirasagi Castle” (White Heron) because of its beauty resembling a white heron spreading its wings.

The six-year large-scale restoration project that began in 2009 is also over and it was opened to the public in late March 2015. The whiteness is back to its former glory following the restorations and it’s fresh and beautiful like it’s been remodeled. As such, a ton of people visit here.

<Why We Recommend>

This whiteness will darken in several years. As such, castle fans say now’s your chance to see Himeji Castle completely white in your lifetime. Go now! Information: Map


3. Kumamoto Castle


And you can’t forget about all those who say that Kumamoto Castle is No. 1 in Japan, different from all the other castles. And the reason why is because it has so many sights to see. Here are some places you must visit.


<Places of Note>

#1 is Uto-yagura. A ‘yagura’ is normally used for storing weapons and as the firing spot for bows and arrows. Uto-yagura is like a castle tower but also different. This splendid watchtower built on a stone wall 20m high is not like any others. While the towers burned, the uto-yagura stayed clear of the flames and is the same now as it has been for over 400 years.


<Places of Note>

#2 is Niyo no Ishigaki. This stone wall for Kumamoto Castle is called the Warrior’s Return because battling samurai could never climb it. It’s well-known for the way the rocks are stacked in a new and old way, and its incline. This newly thought way of stacking rocks led to a steeper incline.


<Places of Note>

#3 is the Shokun no Ma inside the center palace. The 60 decorative paintings on the ceiling and the amazing craftsmanship of the wooden architecture is worth a look in this room. Even if you don’t know the history, you’ll be fascinated by its splendor. Information: Map

Related: So Beautiful…! Meguro Gajoen: An Invite to a Secret Spot Full of Japanese Traditions
Related: Kanaguya Hot Springs Hotel: How Often Do You Get to Stay in a Cultural Asset!


4. Takeda Castle


The castle ruins of Takeda offer a slightly different castle. It’s the best castle atop a mountain in Japan.


<Why We Recommend>

All that remains now is a stone wall but it’s called the Castle in the Sky from this view and is known as the Machu Picchu of Japan. This unique spot is sure to be a fresh hit with those who don’t care for castles as well as big castle fans. Information: Map

Related: Laputa Road: Magnificent Scenery of Japan that You Won’t Find on Tourism Sites

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