Castles in Japan may not fit the Western concept of an ancient citadel, but although they are completely different from castles in Europe, they were built for very similar reasons. They began to appear in the Land of the Rising Sun during the 15th century, when the country dissolved into warring states. Later, they were built as places of government and as homes for feudal lords, or daimyo. At one time there were as many as 5,000 castles in Japan; today there are about a hundred, of which only a dozen from feudal times. These wooden and stone structures offer visitors a rare glimpse into Japan’s feudal past.
1. Himeji Castle
Considered the most impressive of the feudal castles in Japan, Himeji Castle is located west of K? Be, the capital of Hy Prefecture? Go. The fortress is commonly referred to as the White Heron Castle because the castle’s white clad towers resemble a snow heron in flight. Built in 1601 on the site of a previous castle, the hilltop castle consists of 83 structures centered on the Tenshu-gun, a complex of turrets and connected buildings. The Main Keep is a six-story structure that can be seen from almost anywhere in Himeji Town. The castle has been featured in several films, including the James Bond adventure film “You Only Live Twice” and “The Last Samurai”, starring Tom Cruise.
2. Matsue Castle
Matsue Castle is the only one remaining in the San’in region, on the southwest coast of the main island of Japan, and is unique in that it has never seen military action, although it was built in a defensive watchtower style. Built in 1611, the perched fortress was completed after the last great feudal war. Most of the castle complex was dismantled in 1875, and only the keep and the ishigaki, or stone walls, remain. Reconstruction of the fortress began in the 1950s. The castle’s nickname, “La Tour Noire”, reflects the striking ebony color of the tower. Visitors can tour the keep and grounds, and boat tours of the outer moat are also offered.
3. Matsumoto Castle
Located in a mountainous region northwest of Tokyo, Matsumoto Castle sits on a stone structure surrounded by a large moat. Built in 1590, the multi-story castle is adorned in black, earning the fortress its nickname: Castillo de los Cuervos. The castle’s main dungeon, or dungeon, is the oldest in Japan and offers stunning views of the Hijiri K? Gen. Although Matsumoto is a hirajiro, a simple castle, it was built for fortification. There are openings for shooting arrows or dropping rocks at invaders throughout the dungeon.
4. Hirosaki Castle
Hirosaki Castle, located on top of a hill in northern Japan, is known for its original five gates, fortified moat, and expansive grounds. Completed in 1611, the original five-story keep was destroyed by fire in 1627. A three-story watchtower was later restructured to serve as the main keep. The surrounding park, gates and moat are even more eye-catching than the keep and provide visitors with a relaxed, landscaped atmosphere. With over 2,500 cherry trees, the park hosts one of the largest cherry blossom festivals in Japan each spring.
5. Hikone Castle
Hikone Castle gives visitors a real taste of what Japan’s castle complexes looked like in their heyday. The gardens, gates and the houses of the original guards have been as carefully preserved as the main tower. The Hikone Complex contains structures and materials collected from other castles across the country. After 20 years of construction, the hilltop castle was completed in 1622. The castle remained under the control of the feudal lords daimyo II until 1868. The nearby Hikone Castle Museum displays II Dynasty treasures such as artefacts. armor and musical instruments.