The ranking of castles that are often searched on the Internet

22.February.2018 | SPOT

Hankyu Kotsusha released the ranking of Japanese castles that are often searched on the Internet.

お城

Thinking about the history of a castle by viewing the castle keep, stone walls, well and the background view of the castle is very fun. Japanese castles which can be enjoyed in every season are popular among many people. Presentations using latest technologies such as AR, VR and projection mapping and various events are held at many castles.

 

In this article, I will introduce to you the most popular castles of Japan.

姫路城

 

1st place – Himeji Castle <Hyogo Prefecture>

Himeji Castle located in Himejishi, Hyogo Prefecture was designated as a national treasure and an important cultural property in addition to being designated as Japan’s first world heritage site in 1993. The castle is also known as “Shirasagi (white heron) Castle” because the exterior of the castle looks like a white heron spreading its wings.

The castle has many interesting spots in addition to the castle keep such as “Kesho Yagura” which Senhime (a princess) used as a resting place and “Okiku Ido (water well)” where a person named Okiku was thrown into the well.

 

Himeji Castle’s sightseeing/touring information:
http://www.hankyu-travel.com/kinki/hyogo/himejijo/?p_baitai=9599

 

竹田城

 

2nd place – Takeda Castle <Hyogo Prefecture>

This castle is located at the top Gojo Mountain (353.7m) in Asagoshi, Hyogo Prefecture. The castle was closed about 400 years ago and only the stone walls remained. The castle is also known as “the sky castle” since it looks like it is floating on the clouds when a thick mist moves in. The castle is designated as “the holy ground of couples” and therefore many couples visit this castle.

Takeda Castle’s sightseeing/touring information:
http://www.hankyu-travel.com/kinki/takeda_castle/?p_baitai=9599

 

松本城

3rd place: Matsumoto Castle <Nagano Prefecture>

Matsumoto Castle located in Matsumoto-shi, Nagano Prefecture is the oldest remaining five layered castle keep in Japan and is designated as a national treasure. Many people say that the charm of this castle is the beauty of the exterior coated with white and black plaster. The mountains surrounding this castle are very beautiful. Inside the castle, you can meet with the staff of the castle called “Omotenashitai” wearing armor and clothes of ninja and take photos with them.

Matsumoto Castle’s Sightseeing/touring information:
https://www.hankyu-travel.com/kokunai/castle/kanto.php?p_baitai=9599&#Anc01

 

江戸城

4th place: Edo Castle <Tokyo>

The area around this ruined castle is used by the imperial family. The castle used to be the residence of Ieyasu Tokugawa. You must make a reservation or apply for a ticket on the same day you visit the area (first-come-first-served basis) if you want to view the residence of the imperial family. Higashi Gyoen has a castle keep, Fuijimiyagura (observation deck) and Tokagakudo (music hall). The area has many other interesting points such as the main gate called Otemon, Futae Bridge which is popular as a photo-taking spot, Sakuradamon where “Sakurada Mongai no Hen” (historical incident) occurred and the statue of Masashige Kusunoki.

Edo Castle’s sightseeing/touring information:
https://www.hankyu-travel.com/kokunai/castle/kanto.php?p_baitai=9599&#Anc02

 

彦根城

 

5th place: Hikone Castle <Shiga Prefecture)

The castle keep, Tsukeyagura and Tamonyagura (observation decks) of Hikone Castle which is located in Hikoneshi, Shiga Prefecture are designated as national treasures. The castle was built to prepare for war, so you can view hidden rooms and Hazama (holes to shoot arrows and fire guns from) in the castle keep. About 400 Japanese plum trees are planted inside the grounds of the castle. The trees bloom in mid to late March every year.

Hikone Castle’s sightseeing/touring information:
https://www.hankyu-travel.com/kokunai/castle/kinki.php?p_baitai=9599&#Anc04

 

大阪城

6th place: Osaka Castle <Osaka>

Osaka Castle located in Osaka-shi, Osaka is a popular sightseeing spot which was designated as a cultural property in 1997 after it was rebuilt and renovated. The castle consists of 8 floors included a museum and observation deck. There are many interesting things to see in this castle such as exhibition rooms, a theatre and a museum. You can view the city of Osaka from the observation deck which is located on the top of the castle.

Osaka Castle’s sightseeing/touring information:
https://www.hankyu-travel.com/kokunai/castle/kinki.php?p_baitai=9599&#Anc01

 

上田城

 

7th place: Ueda Castle <Nagano Prefecture>

Ueda Castle was built by Masayuki Sanada in 1583. Seasonal events such as “Senbonzakura Matsuri” where you can view about 1000 cherry blossom trees and “Keyaki Namiki Koyo Matsuri” where you can view lit up zelkovas are held every year.

Ueda Castle’s sightseeing/touring information:
https://www.hankyu-travel.com/kokunai/castle/kanto.php?p_baitai=9599&#Anc03

 

五稜郭

8th place: Goryokaku <Hokkaido>

Goryokaku located in the center of Hakodate, Hokkaido is a western-style castle which was built during the Bakumatsu Era (late Edo Era) as an administrative institution of Edo Bakufu (government). There are 5 tipped areas called “Ryoho” and the castle is shaped like a star. The inside area of the fortress is 3 times bigger than Tokyo Dome (125,500 square meters). You can also see the interior of Hakodate Bugyosho located in the center of the castle grounds.

Goryokaku’s sightseeing/information tour
https://www.hankyu-travel.com/kokunai/castle/hokkaido-tohoku.php?p_baitai=9599&#Anc01

 

熊本城

9th place: Kumamoto Castle <Kumamoto Prefecture>

This castle is located in the center of Kumamoto-shi. It has big/small castle keeps and the building consists of 6F and B1F. You can view the city of Kumamoto and Aso Mountain from the top of this castle. “Syoku no Ma” shining in gold which is located inside Hongan Goten was renovated, so this is a “must see.”

Kumamoto Castle’s sightseeing/touring information
https://www.hankyu-travel.com/kokunai/castle/kyushu-okinawa.php?p_baitai=9599&#Anc02

 

名古屋城

10th place (tie): Nagoya Castle <Aichi Prefecture>

A castle which Ieyasu Tokugawa built to conquer Japan. The interior of the castle keep (B1F to 7F) can be viewed and you can observe many historical items such as important cultural assets, body armor, head armors, katanas and hagbuts. An event where you can experience the lifestyle of a domain lord can be experienced. The most recommended item is the life size golden dolphin which you can ride.

Nagoya Castle’s sightseeing/touring information:
https://www.hankyu-travel.com/kokunai/castle/chubu-hokuriku.php?p_baitai=9599&#Anc05

 

二条城

10th place (tie): Nijo Castle <Kyoto>

This castle which was designated as a world’s heritage site in 1994 was built as an accommodation for Ieyasu Tokugawa in 1603. It is also known as the place where Taiseihokan (historical event where the government of Japan was renewed) was held by the Tokugawa Family’s 15th general Yoshinobu Tokugawa. The national treasure, Ninomaru Goten using 800 tatami mats (3,300 square meter) has 33 rooms and the wall paintings are very beautiful.

Nijo Castle’s sightseeing/touring information
https://www.hankyu-travel.com/kokunai/castle/kinki.php?p_baitai=9599&#Anc06

 

弘前城

10th place (tie): Hirosaki Castle <Aomori Prefecture>

This castle is built inside Hirasaki Park located in Hirosakishi, Aomori Prefecture. A part of the castle was burnt down by a lightning strike in 1627 but was rebuilt in 1810. Observation decks called “Tatsumi Yagura,” “Hitsuji Saru Yagura” and “Ushitora Yagura” can be observed in addition to the castle keep. Each observation deck is located in a different direction (south east, south west and north east)

Hirosaki Castle’s sightseeing/touring information:
https://www.hankyu-travel.com/kokunai/castle/hokkaido-tohoku.php?p_baitai=9599&#Anc02

 

 

Let’s feel the history of Japan by visiting the castles noted above.

 

■Information

Hankyu Kotsusha’s touring site:

https://www.hankyu-travel.com/?p_baitai=9599

 

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    ▶︎Nanatsudaki Falls (七つ滝)

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    Fushimi Port Park

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    Kan’in-no-miya Residence

    Address: 3 Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo War, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture

    Official Website: https://kan-in-nomiya-teiato.jp/eng/

     

     

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    Photos: @macchan358

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    ▼Kyoto Station

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    Kyoto Station Building Official Website: https://www.kyoto-station-building.co.jp/

     

    ▼Kyoto Tower

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    *Opening hours subject to change without notice

    Official Website: https://www.keihanhotels-resorts.co.jp/kyoto-tower/

     

     

    Yasaka Shrine

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    ▼Yasaka Shrine

    Address: 625 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture

    Official Website: http://www.yasaka-jinja.or.jp/

     

     

    Kyoto Minamiza Theatre

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    Minamiza has a long history spanning back to 1610 when it was founded. In May this year, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu performed a special concert there entitled Kyary Kabuki Kabuki which made use of projection mapping, fusing history and tradition with the latest cutting-edge technology to provide a concert like no other. The theatre is becoming a new sightseeing spot as it is lit up at nighttime. All of the lights are turned on until 10pm after which just the roof lights are kept on.

     

    ▼Kyoto Minamiza Theatre

    Address: 198 Nakanocho, Higashiyama, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture

    Official Website: https://www.shochiku.co.jp/play/theater/minamiza/

     

     

    Ninenzaka

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    ▼Ninenzaka

    Address: 2 Kiyomizu, Masuyacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture

    Official Website: http://www.2nenzaka.ne.jp/

     

     

    Kiyomizu-dera

    Kiyomizu-dera is a 25-minute walk from Kiyomizu-Gojō Station which is reached via the Keihan Main Line. Registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this ancient Buddhist temple is a very popular tourist destination. What we want those of you to see when visiting in the evening is the beautiful sunset which can be seen from the temple, colouring the streets of Kyoto a gorgeous orange.

     

    ▼Kiyomizu-dera

    Address: 1-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture

    Opening Hours: https://www.kiyomizudera.or.jp/access.php

    Official Website: https://www.kiyomizudera.or.jp/

     

    Taka has visited so many incredible locations in Kyoto, so if you’re planning a trip there and need some recommendations be sure to follow him on Instagram.

     

    Photos: Taka

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    04.August.2019 | SPOT

    The Buddhist temple Tenjō-ji is located on Mount Maya at the heart of the mountainous area of Mount Rokko. This month, something very special is happening at the temple. An elusive door housed there is opened only once every 33 years, and this month from August 1 to 15, it is open.

    Tenjō-ji is the only temple in Japan that has a building dedicated to Maya-bunin, the mother of Buddha. Its long history begins with Hōdō Sennin, an Indian high priest who build the temple at the behest of Emperor Kōtoku. In Japan, Maya-bunin is worshipped as as symbol of easy childbirth and child-rearing. Mount Maya, the mountain on which Tenjō-ji sits, is named after her.

    Mount Maya, located in Kobe’s Nada ward, is a 702 meter tall mountain and one of the major peaks of Rokkō Mountains. It is close to the town areas of Kobe, and from the mountain peak one can see Kobe, Osaka, the Kii Peninsula, Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge and more, making it a popular tourist destination. It’s also frequented by Kobe locals who visit with their families to eat bento, as well as couples looking to catch a glimpse at the gorgeous nightscape atop the mountain apex.

    Inside the secret door now open at the temple until August 15 are three hidden Buddhist idols: the Eleven-Faced Avalokitesvara, Acala, and Vaiśravaṇa. This is very much a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so if you’re lucky enough to be in Japan right now, you won’t want to miss this extremely special occasion. If you do, you’ll have to wait another 33 years!

     

    While it is open there will be talks and faith healing by the priests three times a day (10:30/12:00/14:00), exclusive celebratory merchandise, limited-time goshuin stamps, and more.

  • Stay in a Traditional Japanese Hotel in Kosuge Village Where the Population is Just 700

    04.August.2019 | BUSINESS / SPOT

    NIPPONIA Kosuge Genryū no Mura is a new hotel opening in the village of Kosuge in Kitatsuru District, Yamanashi Prefecture on August 17. The hotel is renovated from an old Japanese-style house that was originally used for local personages and was constructed over 150 years ago.

    Kosuge is about two-hours from Tokyo and is completely enveloped in the natural environment with 95% of the land occupied by trees and nature. Its population is around 700 which is a mere third of its peak population. It is currently faced with a serious depopulation problem due to its ageing population.

    The hotel will open in an effort to pass on the beautiful landscapes and culture of the village to the next generation. It hopes to aid in solving the problem of its declining population and empty houses while acting as a means to bring in tourism and sightseeing.

    The hotel serves as just the first part of this village revitalisation project. It features 4 guest rooms called OHYA as a restaurant that seats 22.

    There are three rooms in the main building and one in the basement. Each is designed with privacy in mind and each has its own concept.

    OHYA 1

    From the rooms guests can enjoy the view of the gorgeous Japanese-style gardens surrounding the hotel.

    The restaurant menu concept is titled 24 Sekki, which denotes the twenty four seasonal turning points of the old Japanese calendar, and is made using carefully local ingredients so that guests can enjoy an authentic Kosuge experience.

    All the staff at the hotel are local villagers. The majority of the ingredients used in there are grown and produced by the farmers of Kosuge. The hotel also offers other services for guests to  get to know the area better such as nature walks and bike rides through the village. You are made to feel like one of the locals.

     

    A second building will be renovated in May 2020 to accommodate two more rooms. There are 70-100 vacant buildings in Kosuge, so there are plans in place to receive permission from landlords to make further repairs, improvements and renovations.

     

    If you’re travelling to Japan and are looking for a truly remote experience then why not visit the quaint little village of Kosuge in Yamanashi Prefecture?

  • See Traditional and Modern Japanese Culture Collide With Yukata, DJs & More at Tokyo’s Hamarikyu Gardens

    30.July.2019 | SPOT / Uncategorized

    The three-day Hamarikyu Oedo Cultural Festival will take place at the beautiful Hamarikyu Gardens in Tokyo from August 23 to 25. It will be produced by international fashion designer and stylist Junko Koshino.

     

    The boisterous festival is a coming together of Japan’s traditional Edo period and modern times which will be celebrated with a myriad of exciting experiences.

    The centrepieces of this year’s event are the DJ performances and Yukata Fest which will take place around the two 6-meter tall pillars in the garden’s plaza. DJ KOO will appear as a special guest on Friday August 23rd while Japanese models Arina Urahama, Sayaka Shimizu and YORI will take the spotlight on Saturday 24th wearing Edo-style outfits with a contemporary pop spin all made by Junko Koshino.

     

    During the Yukata Fest, there will be taiko drumming along to the DJ performance. Three people from the Eitetsu Fu’un no Kai―a group supervised by famous Japanese musician Eitetsu Hayashi―will be the drummers. The Fest will mash together traditional Japanese music with modern DJing.

    Expect to be thrilled with an up-close performance of kendo swordsmanship, iai―the art of drawing one’s sword―and a showcasing of naginata, a type of long pole weapon. There will also be a play area where you can play karuta with the Hyakunin Isshu one-hundred poems which was popular during the Edo period, blow bubbles, and more.

    And of course, there’ll be plenty of Japanese food to tuck into as well served at one of the many booths. This includes namie yakisoba, a local speciality soba noodle dish adored by the people of Fukuoka which will be served as part of maintaining the culture, a Fukushima no Sake standing bar which has won the top award in the Shinshu Kanpyokai 7 years in a row, and so on.

    Specially prepared traditional Japanese wagashi confections produced by Junko Koshino will also be sold as part of a collaboration project with Ito En who are sponsoring the event and holding a special tea party. They are limited in availability, and those lucky few who do get a spot will be able to enjoy tea and sweets while enjoying a view of the spectacular Japanese-style gardens at the Nakajima No Ochaya cafe.

    Visitors will also be able to pick from a wardrobe of bright and colourful yukata, including some designed by Junko Koshino, at one of the booths at the festival and have them fitted on from them. Those who arrive already dressed in a yukata will receive free entry to the festival!

    You’ll completely forget you’re in the boisterous city of Tokyo while at this traditional x modern fusion of a festival. If you’re in Japan this summer, then don’t miss out. More details of the festival and its content can be found on the official website below.

  • 3 Must-Visit Places in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture – MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON

    28.July.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    Aichi Prefecture is located in the centre of Japan’s Honshu island. It is home to countless shops, astounding castles, and many sightseeing spots. Mother nature is a huge part of Aichi’s beauty where she has provided plenty of places for enjoying the outdoors.

     

    Instagrammer NAMIKO, who travels all over Japan to visit tourist and sightseeing spots, is here today to showcase three unmissable places to visit when travelling to Aichi using photos she has posted.

     

    Aichi Farm (Aichi Bokujo)

    Running just a 10-minute stroll from Kurozasa Station is Aichi Farm which is home to various farm animals, a place where you can enjoy BBQ food, and more, making it a very popular spot for friends and families looking for a day out.

     

    But the absolute must-see part of your trip here during summer are the sunflower beds which bloom from early July right up to early September. The best times to see them in full bloom are posted on the farm’s official website so be sure to check before packing your outdoor gear and heading out.

     

    ▼Aichi Farm (Aichi Bokujo)

    Address: Minamiyama-977 Komenokichō, Nisshin, Aichi

    Opening Hours: Dependent on the season, check the official website for details

    No Fixed Holidays (Except New Year’s and Tuesdays when the horse riding club is running)

    Official Website: http://www.aiboku.com/

     

     

    Noma Lighthouse

    Nomazaki Lighthouse, or Noma Lighthouse for short, can be found along the coast of a town called Mihama in Chita District. This town bears many sightseeing spots including the aquarium and art museum. The lighthouse can be reached by riding the Meitetsu Chita New Line to Noma Station. You then change onto the Mini Seibu Bus and get off at Noma Lighthouse (野間灯台).

     

    It is the oldest lighthouse in all of Aichi Prefecture and is popular for its “kawaii” appearance. Wanderlust travellers will love basking in the radiant summer sun by the sea and sandy beach when they go to visit Noma Lighthouse.

     

    ▼Noma Lighthouse

    Address: Iwanari-20-1 Onoura, Mihama, Chita District, Aichi

    No Fixed Holidays

    Official Website: https://www.aichi-now.jp/spots/detail/115/

     

     

    Himakajima

    Himakajima is an island in Mikawa Bay which can be reached in just an hour from Nagoya, the capital of Aichi Prefecture. Not only do you have sunny beaches, there’s also a temple, a park for children to play in, the island’s famous giant swing, and lots of other fun places to explore. It’s also known for its octopus and blowfish catches which can be eaten there.

     

    There are plenty of spots for taking great photos too. Since it’s an island located off the coast, any photo you take will look picturesque.

     

    ▼Himakajima

    Official Website: https://www.himaka.net/

     

    If you’re seeking out even more travel recommendations and sightseeing spots around Japan for your bucket list then we highly encourage you to follow NAMIKO on Instagram.

     

    Photos: NAMIKO

  • Kyoto’s Famous Buddhist Temple With Heart Window Holds Wind Chime Festival

    27.July.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    The ancient city of Kyoto enjoys flurries of tourists and sightseers from around the world throughout the year. It is particularly hot during the summertime because it’s located in a valley.

     

    Shojuin is a Buddhist Temple located in a summer retreat that was erected nearly 800 years ago. Hidden at the temple is the 11-faced Buddha statue of Kannon Bosatsu which is open to the public only once every 50 years.

     

    The temple has a long history, and today it is used as a site for yoga, copying the sutras, and other activities when booked in advance. It’s enjoyed by people of all ages.

     

    Today, we are joined by Macchan, an Instagrammer who tours the many sightseeing spots of Kyoto. They have provided photographs of the must-see parts of this ancient temple.

    Shojuin is famous for its beautiful heart-shaped window located in the reception hall as well as its 160 pieces of ceiling art. The decorative window has been around for nearly 1,400 years and has survived disasters. It stands as a symbol of happiness.

    From outside the heart window visitors can enjoy the different flowers through the four seasons. Right now during summer the view is a green spectacle. At nighttime the outdoor garden is lit up beautifully as shown in the photo.

     

    Shojuin is famous for its summer Wind Chime Festival which is currently running until September 18.

    2,000 colourful wind chimes gently sway around the temple with the summer breeze. The chimes are there for their sound and appearance and to elicit that sense of refreshing coolness.

    Even the wind chimes are illuminated in the evenings. They are lit up on weekends only (except August 1 to 18) from 18:00-20:00.

     

    The hypnotic ring of the wind chimes sounds they are calling the wind. If you’re travelling to Kyoto this hot summer, why not plan a trip to Shojuin?

     

    Macchan has lots of other photos on their Instagram where you can feel the vibe of Kyoto. Use it as reference when you’re planning your Kyoto sightseeing.

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