Castles in Japan was built to guard important sites such as bridges and ports, or even the place to live of ancient lords, or base during civil war time. Below are some castles of Japan that are worth visiting because of their popularity, beauty of architecture features, as well as the richness of history and culture of Japan that every castle bears.

1. Himeji Castle

Was built in 1333 and located in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, Himeji castle is considered as one of the largest castles in Japan also the most visited one. In 1993, it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site in Japan and also seen as one of three premier castles along with Kumamoto and Matsumoto castle.

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle. From Wikipedia

Access:
– 15mins by car from Tohori Ramp (via Chugoku Expressway) or Hanada IC (via Sanyo Expressway)
– 20mins walk from JR Himeji and Sanyo Himeji stations.

Address:
68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture

Hours:
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (last entry 4:00 p.m.)
9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. in summer (April 27–August 31) (last entry 5:00 p.m.)
Closed December 29, 30

Fees:
Adults 1,000yen; Students
Elementary, Junior High, and Senior High School) 300yen

Website:
http://www.himejicastle.jp/en/ 

2. Kumamoto Castle

Considered as one of three premier castles in Japan, located in Chuo-ku, Kumamoto in Kumamoto Prefecture, Kyushu island, this castle was built in 1467 on the top of the hill. In 1960, this large castle was undergoing a reconstruction. However, some parts inside the castle still remain original.

Kumamoto Castle

Kumamoto Castle. From Wikipedia

Access:
– 15mins by tram ride from JR Kumamoto Station
– 30-40mins walk from Kumamoto Station

Address:
1-1 Honmaru, Chuo Ward, Kumamoto, Kumamoto Prefecture

Hours:
8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (until 5:00 p.m. from December to February), admission ends 30 minutes before closing time.
Closed December 30, 31.

Fees:
500yen

Website:
http://www.manyou-kumamoto.jp/castle/

3. Matsumoto Castle

Located in Matsumoto city, Nagano Prefecture, it is also often said as a ‘crow castle’ due to its black color. The uniqueness of this castle is, instead of built in the hilltop or between the rivers, it was built on the plain.

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle. From Wikipedia

Access:
– 15mins walk from JR Matsumoto Station.
– 5mins by bus on the “Town Sneaker” Northern Course bus loop line from JR Matsumoto Station.

Address:
4-1 Marunouchi, Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture

Hours:
8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (until 6:00 p.m. around Obon and Golden Week), admission ends 30 minutes before closing time.
Closed from December 29 to January 3.

Fees:
610yen

Website:
http://www.matsumoto-castle.jp/splash 

4. Hikone Castle

Located in Hikone city, Shiga prefecture, this castle was built during Edo period and considered as one of the original castles in Japan. It is also listed as one of national treasures. Some parts inside this castle are also considered as a national cultural asset.

Hikone Castle

Hikone Castle. From Wikipedia

Access:
15mins walk along the straight main road from Hikone Station.

Address:
1-1 Konkicho, Hikone, Shiga Prefecture

Hours:
8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (entry until 5:00 p.m.)

Fees:
600 yen (castle and garden); 1,000 yen (castle, garden and museum)

Website:
http://www.hikoneshi.com/jp/castle/

5. Inuyama Castle

Located in Inuyama city, Aichi prefecture, Inuyama castle is one of castles which was built before Edo period that still exist until now, therefore it was considered as one of oldest castles. You can see Kiso river, a river between Nagoya and Gifu, from the top of this castle. There are Artifacts Museum and Exhibition Rooms in the entry of this castle which show the history and culture of the city.

Inuyama Castle

Inuyama Castle. From Flickr

Access:
15-20mins walk from either Inuyama Station or Inuyama-Yuen Station.

Address:
Kitakoken-65-2 Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture

Hours:
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (last entry 4:30 p.m.)
Closed from December 29 to 31

Fees:
500 yen (1,200 yen for combined entry to Urakuen)

Website:
http://www.inuyamajohb.org/index01.html 

6. Matsue Castle

Matsue Castle is one of the rare original castles in Japan, meaning that its castle tower has survived the wars, fires, earthquakes and anti-feudal activities of the post-feudal era (since 1868).

Matsue Castle

Matsue Castle. From Wikipedia

Access:
– 30mins walk from JR Matsue Station
– 15mins walk from Ichibata Dentetsu’s Matsue-Shinjiko-Onsen Station.

Address:
1-5 Tonomachi, Matsue, Shimane Prefecture

Hours:
8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (until 5:00 p.m. from October to March), admission ends 30 minutes before closing time.

Fees:
560 yen (castle only, 50% off for foreign tourists); 1,160 yen (also includes samurai residence, Hearn residence and Hearn memorial museum); 920 yen (also includes two more sites of your choice from the three sites listed above)

Website:
http://www.matsue-tourism.or.jp/m_castle/ 

7. Matsuyama Castle

Just like Matsue Castle, Matsuyama Castle is one of the castles that survived the post-feudal era since 1868 intact. It is also one of the most complex and interesting castles in the country, since it’s located on Mount Katsuyama, a steep hill in the city center that provides visitors with a bird’s eye view of Matsuyama and the Seto Inland Sea.

Matsuyama Castle

Matsuyama Castle. From Wikipedia

Access:
It takes 15mins to the Castle by ropeway or chairlift. The closest tram stop to the ropeway and chairlift station is “Okaido” in front of the covered arcade, from where it is a 5mins walk to the lower ropeway station. Okaido can be reached by tram line 5 from JR Matsuyama Station (10 minutes, 160 yen) or by tram line 2 or 3 from Matsuyama-shi Station (5 minutes, 160 yen).

Address:
1 Marunouchi, Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture

Hours:
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (until 4:30 p.m. in December and January; until 5:30 p.m. in August), admission ends 30 minutes before closing time
Closed on December 29

Fees:
510yen

Websites:
http://www.matsuyamajo.jp/ 

8. Hirosaki Castle

Was built in 1611 by the Tsugaru Clan, the castle is a three-story castle tower, fortified moats, castle gates and some corner turrets (yagura) survived or were reconstructed. The castle is located in Hirosaki Park, a spacious public park of about 0.6 square kilometers.

Hirosaki Castle

Hirosaki Castle. From Wikipedia

Access:
15mins by bus ride west of JR Hirosaki Station by the Dotemachi Loop Bus.

Address:
1 Shimoshiroganecho, Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture

Hours:
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (longer hours during cherry blossom festival)
Closed from November 24 to March 31

Fees:
310 yen (castle only); 510 yen (castle, botanical garden and Fujita Memorial Garden)

Website:
http://www.hirosakipark.jp/en/ 

9. Aizuwakamatsu Castle

Also known as Tsuruga Castle, was built in 1384 and changed hands many times between the different rulers of the Aizu region. It was destroyed after the Boshin War of 1868, a rebellion against the newly formed Meiji government, which had taken over control from the Tokugawa shogun and put an end to Japan’s feudal era. Tsuruga Castle was one of the last strongholds of samurai loyal to their Shogun.

Tsuruga Castle

Tsuruga Castle. From Flickr

Access:
20mins by bus from Aizu-Wakamatsu Station.

Address:
1-1 Otemachi, Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture

Hours:
8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (admission until 4:30 p.m.)

Fees:
410yen

Website:
http://www.tsurugajo.com/language/eng/ 

10. Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle was built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo Period (1603-1867). After the Tokugawa Shogunate fell in 1867, Nijo Castle was used as an imperial palace for a while before being donated to the city and opened up to the public as a historic site. Its palace buildings are arguably the best surviving examples of castle palace architecture of Japan’s feudal era, and the castle was registered as an UNESCO world heritage site in 1994.

Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle. From Wikipedia

Access:
– 15-20mins from Kyoto Station, by train Karasuma Subway Line to Karasuma-Oike Station and transfer to the Tozai Line to Nijojo-mae Station.
– 15-20mins by Kyoto City Bus.

Address:
541 Nijojocho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture

Hours:
8:45 to 5:00 p.m. (admission until 4:00 p.m.).
Entry to Ninomaru from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Tuesdays in Jan, Jul, Aug and Dec (or following day if Tue is a national holiday)
December 26 to January 4

Fees:
600yen

Website:
http://www2.city.kyoto.lg.jp/bunshi/nijojo/english/ 

 

 

 

Thumbnail image is from Wikipedia