Top 10 Japanese Castles to Visit in 2019

27.April.2019 | SPOT

Japan is home to many castles, but which are the most searched for online? Hankyu Travel International has answered this very question by ranking the top 10 most searched Japanese castles over the past year.


Japan’s castles are ever-popular, lauded and enjoyed for their elegant architecture, their natural surroundings which transform with each passing season, and their eventful histories.


In recent years they have enjoyed much social media attention on websites like Instagram and are one of the big tourist spots with foreigners visiting the island nation. Some castles have even incorporated the latest cutting-edge technology, like AR and VR, to provide modern tour guide service. The appearance of the castles change with every era, and for each one the Japanese castle boom never lets up.

1st Place: Himeji Castle (Hyogo Prefecture)

Himeji Castle hails as Japan’s first designated World Heritage Site. It has also been appointed a national treasure and Important Cultural Property. It continues its reign from last year by once again taking the No. 1 spot. It is known by its nickname Shirasakijou (White Heron Castle) as its graceful exterior is like that of the spread wings of a white heron. Visitors not only enjoy the castle’s appearance but its history too which told by the display items situated up and down its floors, from the basement up to the sixth. Waiting atop the apex is a vantage point to take in the sights and scenery spread around and beyond the castle grounds. What’s more, is that every day from sunset to midnight the castle is illuminated with lights, offering a completely different visiting experience for people in the evening. Besides the main castle, Some of its iconic spots include the Keshou Yagura where Senhime, or Lady Sen, was said to use as a resting place. There is also Okiku’s Well which features in the Japanese ghost story Banshō Sarayashiki.


Himeji Castle Website:

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2nd Place: Takeda Castle (Hyogo Prefecture)

Takeda Castle is located in Hyogo Prefecture’s city of Asago on a mountain 353.7m above sea level. This ruined castle was abandoned some 400 years ago and is now just home to its old stone walls. Surrounding the castle is a bellowing bed of thick fog which looks like a sea of clouds. This has led the castle to be nicknamed the “castle in the sky,” and in recent years it has enjoyed bustling popularity. In the plaza in front of the Tenku no Shiro Information Center, which is attached to Takeda Station, a special ice cream called “Mofu Mofu Soft” is sold on weekends and during holidays which is wrapped in a big fluffy serving of candy floss to look like the mountain and fog. Its Instagram-worthy appearance makes it popular with tourists. The closest cat park to the castle is about a 20-minute walk, so put on some comfy trainers or mountain climbing shoes and begin your ascent.


Takeda Castle Website:

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3rd Place: Matsumoto Castle (Nagano Prefecture)

In Nagano Prefecture’s special city of Matsumoto you will encounter the famous Matsumoto Castle. It is admired for the beauty in its outer walls which are covered in white plastering and black lacquering. It is also a must-visit for its view of the Japanese northern Alps. Various smartphone apps have been developed related to Matsumoto Castle including a quiz game (国宝松本城クイズ) as well as Street Museum (ストリートミュージアム) which offers a VR experience of the Edo period. There are also people dressed in armour and ninja gear in the castle, so be sure to track one down and have your photo taken with them.


Matsumoto Castle Website:

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4th Place: Nagoya Castle (Aichi Prefecture)

It is said that Nagoya Castle was constructed in order for Tokugawa Ieyasu to unify the whole of Japan. It is just a 10-minute train ride from Nagoya Station. Since June 2018 the Honmaru Palace has been on full display to the public, and visitors can also visit the Jourakuden which was built in full luxury for the third Tokugawa shogun Iemitsu to stay in. The newly-opened Kinshachi Yokocho is also drawing attention, a commercial facility connected to the Nagoya Castle area which recreates the castle town. In 2018, 2.2 million people visited Nagoya castle. The castle has been ranked third place many times and has moved up to 4th this year from its last position in 10th place.


Nagoya Castiel Official Website:

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Details on 5th-10th place can be found on Hankyu Travel’s official website here. Use this valuable reference when planning your next trip to a Japanese castle.