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10 Must-Visit Castles in Japan

Posted By on Jun 4, 2014

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There were once around 5,000 castles all across Japan, but today there are sadly only around 50 left. While many are very spread out from each other, it can be hard to decide which ones to visit. Here are 10 of the must-visit Japanese castles.

1. Himeji castle

Not only is Himeji a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it’s a listed National Treasure of Japan. It is Japan’s most complete, and most stunning castle. Because of this, it is the most famous and most visited castle in Japan.

2. Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle is unique as it was built on a plain, rather than on a hill or mountains. Constructed in the 16th century, the castle has survived the test of time and it is one of the 12 original castles left in Japan.

3. Osaka Castle

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Believed to have played a major role in the unification of Japan, Osaka Castle is considered one of the most important structures in all of the country. It miraculously survived the air-raids of WWII and is now one a very popular attraction for tourists, especially during cherry blossom time.

4. Okayama Castle

Also known as the Crow Castle, Okayama Castle maintains its feudal look. The castle was built in 1597, although the main buildings were destroyed during WWII. The castle was later reconstructed in 1966, with a very modern inside.

5. Nagoya Castle

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Nagoya Castle goes beyond the castle itself, as the whole area is a castle-town. After being almost completely destroyed in the air-raids, Nagoya Castle has been slowly been being reconstructed since 1945. The entire castle complex is expected to be completed in 2018.

6. Kumamoto Castle

Kumamoto Castle is located in the Kumamoto prefecture and, together with Himeji and Matsumoto, is considered one of the “three premier castles” in Japan. It was constructed in 1607, but it was burnt to the ground in the late 1800s. Today the structure we see dates back to the 1960s, yet it is still considered one of the best. It just goes to show how great this castle really is.

7. Matsue Castle

Another original castle, Matsue Castle, or the Black Castle, dates back to feudal times. Somehow all of the buildings in the castle complex were destroyed, except for the keep itself. Seen from the outside Matsuejo appears to have five levels, but in reality, its Momoyama watchtower design hides six stories.

8. Hikone Castle

One of Japan’s most graceful looking keeps, Hikone Castle is located on the shores of Lake Biwa in Shiga. It is from the Edo period, and the gardens around the castle grounds are beautiful.

9. Nijo Castle

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Not your typical castle, Nijo Castle is a flatland castle, meaning it’s a single story. Located in the middle of Kyoto, this castle draws millions of visitors per year. While the castle itself is cool, the real draw is the palace grounds and gardens.

10. Matsuyama castle

Matsuyama castle is another flatland castle, but it is located up a mountain and is accessible by ropeway. This castle is largely-complete, and it is filled with interesting historical displays, including pieces of samurai armor that you can try on!

 

[posted by Beth]

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Beth Williams

Originally from Chicago, Beth got her first true taste of travel when she studied abroad in Japan during her final year of university. She ended up loving Asia so much, she found herself moving right back upon graduating and is currently teaching English full-time in Hong Kong. Armed with her camera and a passion for travel, she is currently on a mission to photograph the world-- proving that you can work the normal “9-5” and still find time to travel on her blog Besudesu Abroad.

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