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Japan’s Castle in the Sky, Takeda-jo

Posted By on Apr 15, 2014

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When most people think of visiting castles in Kansai, Nijo-jo, Oskaa-jo and of course, Himeji-jo are often the first three to come to mind. Apart from these main three, Hyogo Prefecture actually has a lot of great castles to visit, many of which are not often frequented by tourists.

However one castle that’s becoming more and more famous in recent years is Takeda Castle (竹田城). In the press this castle is often nicknamed “The Castle in the Sky” or the “Machu Picchu of Japan”.

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Located in Asago City (朝来市) the castle isn’t far off from Himeji and is easily accessible by JR trains. To visit this castle you’ll need to get off at Takeda Station. From there is a 30 minute hike up to the taxi, or if the hike is too strenuous you can hire a taxi which takes less than 10 minutes.

It is still unknown when exactly Takeda Castle was built. According to some sources it was built from 1441-1443, but other sources argue it was a whole ten years earlier in 1431. Otagaki Mitsukage of the Yamana clan built the castle as a stronghold for nearby Izushi Castle.

In the mid-1500s, Takeda Castle was conquered by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who is famous for taking over and reconstructing many other castles around the Kansai area. By as early as 1600, the castle was left abandoned.

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While there is no actual castle anymore, the ruins are still situation on a mountain 350 meters about sea level. The ruins themselves are pretty impressive with the original castle wall still intact, but the views from up there are what really make it worthwhile as it offers an almost full 360° view.

Takeda Castle got the nickname “Castle in the Sky” because in autumn it is usually found surrounded by a sea of clouds. This phenomenon can usually be observed in the early mornings from September to November, when there is a sharp temperature difference between day and night.

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People have been flocking to this castle more and more to witness this phenomenon. In fact, while visiting the ruins used to be free, they have recently imposed a 300 yen charge to try to cut down on the amount of tourists that have been visiting– but it does not seemed to have made a difference and with good reason. This site is one that shouldn’t be missed if you’re visiting Hyogo.

Address: Takeda, Wadayama-cho, Asago City

[post 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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