Japan represents the embodiment of resilient community values and elegant living. To witness Japan is to immerse oneself in the still-present ancient way of life and admire the technological advancements that have permeated every aspect of Japanese society. If you have the opportunity to visit Japan, aside from experiencing its highly recommended cherry blossom season and its lesser-known autumn colors, exploring its castles should be on your agenda. The castles in Japan embody its rich heritage, serving as quiet guardians of the legacy of Japan, the land of samurais and geishas. The architecture in Japan is synonymous with its pagoda-style temples and castles, making them a top priority on your itinerary.
The Finest Castles in Japan
There is no need to stress about the vast number of castles in Japan. We have carefully chosen and compiled a list of the most popular castles for you. Add them to your must-visit places in Japan and don’t forget to capture them with your cameras!
1. Himeji Castle
Perched on a hill, Himeji Castle, commonly known as the White Heron Castle, stands in Hyogo. Adorned with 83 buildings beautifully painted in pristine white, this exquisite castle is nearly 400 years old. Himeji Castle showcases traditional Japanese architecture, with its pinnacle structure towering over the tiered buildings. Constructed as a fortress by the samurai warrior Akamatsu Norimura in 1333, the castle has undergone numerous structural enhancements under various clans throughout the centuries. Remarkably, the castle survived the bombings of World War II. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is one of the original castles in Japan.
Location: Himeji Castle, 68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyogo PrefectureVisiting Hours: 9 am to 5 pm (during late April to August, the closing time is extended by one hour)Entrance Fee: 1000 yen for Castle only, 1040 yen includes a visit to the nearby Kokoen Garden
2. Osaka Castle
The Osaka Castle was constructed on the grounds of the former Ishiyama Honganji temple and castle. Despite enduring significant damage during the intense bombings of World War II, the castle has been meticulously restored to its former grandeur with a few modern upgrades. The castle tower even boasts an elevator! Complementing the castle are secondary citadels, turrets, stone walls, gates, and a moat. The Nishinomaru Garden, enveloping the western citadel, is adorned with approximately 600 cherry trees and is a popular hanami spot during the cherry blossom festival season.
Place: Osaka Castle, 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka PrefectureWorking Hours: 9 am to 5 pm: extended hours during various holidays and special exhibitionsAdmission Fee: 600 yenNishinomaru Garden-Working Hours: 9 am to 5 pmAdmission Fee: 200 yen (350 yen in the cherry blossom season)
3. Matsumoto Castle
One of the iconic original castles in Japan, Matsumoto is a “hirajiro” castle. Hirajiro refers to a castle built on flatland instead of hills or mountains. The castle is commonly known as the “Crow Castle” due to its beautiful black exterior that radiates charm and grandeur. Located in Nagano, it is easily accessible from Tokyo by train. This 16th century castle was constructed as a fortress when peace had not yet prevailed in the region.
The wooden paneling gives it an authentic old-world atmosphere unlike other castles in Japan. The observation deck on the sixth floor provides a captivating view of the city. Matsumoto Castle is a popular destination during cherry blossom season. The sprawling open grounds and park are adorned with the iconic and beloved cherry blossom trees, which will make your Instagram profile enviable.
Place: Matsumoto Castle, 4-1 Marunouchi, Matsumoto, Nagano PrefectureWorking Hours: 8: 30 pm to 5 pmAdmission Fee: 610 yen
4. Shuri Castle
This maroon castle will welcome you in all its captivating glory in Okinawa. The monarchs of the Ryukyu Kingdom ruled from the Shuri Castle. Constructed in 1429, it is the largest castle on the island. A world UNESCO heritage site, the castle has intricate grounds and features a replica of the King’s Crown and throne for visitors to appreciate the splendor of the medieval ruling dynasty. Tourists can acquire a wealth of information from the displays along the castle walls, particularly about its maritime connections with mainland China.
Location: Shuri Castle, 1 Chome-2 Shuriken Jocho, Naha, Okinawa PrefectureVisiting Hours: 8:30 am to 5 pmEntrance Fee: 820 yen
5. Matsue Castle
Another one of the ebony castles, Matsue is located in the Shimane Prefecture. It still preserves its original towers and is therefore one of Japan’s authentic castles. The castle was finished in 1611 at the conclusion of the feudal war era in Japan. Extensive renovations in the 1950s restored this somewhat austere-looking castle, and it now houses a museum with numerous medieval artifacts. Visitors can also enjoy a boat voyage down the Horikawa River, where the boatmen and women share the history of the place.
Location: Matsue Castle, 1-5 Tonomachi, Matsue, Shimane PrefectureVisiting Hours: 8:30 am to 6:30 pmEntrance Fee: 560 yen (50 percent discount for foreign tourists)
6. Nagoya Castle
Nagoya Castle is located in the city of Nagoya, which is the fourth largest city in the country. The castle was constructed during the Edo period and suffered significant damage during the air raids of 1945. The castle is currently closed for renovation, which is scheduled to be completed by the year 2022. It is believed that the castle was a present from a military governor named Imagawa Ujichika to his son. The castle features two moats and beautiful grounds adorned with numerous cherry blossom trees. It is considered one of the finest examples of Shoin architecture.
Place: Nagoya Castle, 1-1 Honmaru, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi PrefectureOperating Time: 9 am to 5.50 pmFee to Enter: 500 yen
Suggested Content: Cherry Blossoms Are In Full Bloom & So Is The All New Spring Flower Cruise In Japan
7. Hirosaki Castle
Located in the beautiful surroundings of Hirosaki Park, this castle was built in 1611. In 1627, the original tower with five floors was struck by lightning and burned down. Construction resumed in 1810 and a tower with three floors was constructed. Hirosaki Park is home to over 2500 cherry blossom trees. Every year, the Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern Festival is held, attracting many visitors. Take a boat ride along its moats filled with cherry blossoms and enjoy the various picnic spots.
Place: Hirosaki Castle, 1 Shimo Shirogane Cho, Hirosaki, Aomori PrefectureOperating Time: 9 am to 5 pmFee to Enter: 310 yen
Further Reading: Getting A Japan Visa Will Now Be Easier Than Buying A Movie Ticket!
A visit to Japan would not be complete without exploring its castles. Dress up in a traditional Samurai warrior or a beautiful Kimono (whichever you prefer) and experience the castles of Japan like a true Japanese. Plan your trip to Japan now! Don’t forget to share it with your friends.
Interested In Booking A Vacation Package?
Book unforgettable vacations on Fred and Fuzzys with 650 verified travel agents for 65 domestic and international destinations.