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Top 5 Famous Castles in Japan for Castle Lovers

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There are over 25,000 castles located across Japan. While some have maintained their original architectural structure, others have been renovated over the years. This article introduces five castles that stand out from the rest, specifically their beauty, power, and history.

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There are over 25,000 castles, both large and small, in Japan. Moreover, these castles and ruins remain in each of Japan's regions. These include castles that have been rebuilt alongside long-standing castles that have withstood time.

We've carefully selected five Japanese castles that are perfect for sightseers. They were selected based on their history, status, and beauty. You can't go wrong with these castles!

1. Himeji Castle: Japan's First World Heritage Site


Photo of Japan's 400-year-old World Cultural Heritage Site, Himeji Castle

In 1993, Himeji Castle was selected as Japan's first World Cultural Heritage Site. This historical structure is considered extremely valuable since it has remained almost entirely intact in its original form.

It has earned the nickname "Shirasagi Castle" or "White Egret Castle" due to its enormous white exterior. The restoration was completed in 2015, so its beauty is even more radiant than ever.

Japanese castles have survived many wars. Himeji Castle was completed right after that war-torn period. You can also see architectural techniques from that period in its construction. It's not only beautiful but also serves as a state-of-the-art stronghold.

2. Kumamoto Castle: A Castle Master's Creation That No Weapon Could Touch

5 Famous Castles in Japan for Castle Lovers

Photo by Pixta
Unlike Himeji Castle, Kumamoto Castle has a striking black exterior.

Kumamoto Castle was built by Kato Kiyomasa, a courageous military general whose name remains well-known in present-day Japan. He was best known for his castle construction techniques, with some of his architectural feats still standing nationwide. However, Kumamoto Castle is considered his masterpiece.

One of its key features is the wall made of stones stacked upon each other. This effectively helped defend the castle from attacks. The stone walls were said to be extremely strong, and hardly any attack could penetrate them.

If you have the chance, we recommend seeing this masterpiece for yourself! Kumamoto Castle was damaged by the earthquake that hit the region in 2016 but was restored and is currently partially open to visitors.

3. Nijo Castle: The Beloved Residence of Shoguns

5 Famous Castles in Japan for Castle Lovers

Photo by Pixta

Nijo Castle is located in the heart of Kyoto. It's easy to stop while sightseeing around Kyoto, making it one of our list's most conveniently located castles. Since it doesn't have towers, it looks more like a large mansion than a castle.

No wonder shoguns during the Edo Period (1603-1868) stayed here whenever they visited Kyoto.

The interior contains murals and Japanese gardens, making it ideal for enjoying traditional Japanese culture.

4. Takeda Castle: A Magical Castle in the Sky

5 Famous Castles in Japan for Castle Lovers

Photo by Pixta

Unlike other castles introduced so far, Takeda Castle in Hyogo Prefecture lacks magnificent buildings or towers.

What remains are stone walls with grass naturally growing over the area. Perhaps it's more appropriate to call these "ruins" rather than a castle. However, this feature is what makes it magical and mysterious.

Fans of Takeda Castle have nicknamed it "The Castle in the Sky." Just check the photo above to see what fans are gushing about. With clouds floating under it, doesn't it appear like it's floating in midair? Visitors can enjoy this scenery because the castle is located on a mountaintop.

5. Shuri Castle: A Unique Castle on the Southern Island of Okinawa

5 Famous Castles in Japan for Castle Lovers

Photo by Pixta

Disclaimer: Shuri Castle is undergoing renovations after a fire in October 2019.

Shuri Castle is located on the southernmost island of Okinawa. It is also known as the Ryukyu Islands. Visitors can enjoy a unique culture that differs from traditional Japanese culture.

Upon first glance, Ryukyu culture is reflected in the Shuri Castle. It was built to resemble a Chinese castle in contrast to a Japanese one. You can't see castles with this vibrant red exterior anywhere else in Japan.

Visit Shuri Castle for yourself to experience this one-of-a-kind Southern relic.

In Conclusion

Are there any castles in this article that you would like to visit? Luckily, there are castles and architectural ruins in just about every region of Japan. After scheduling a visit to these major castles, we recommend checking out some of the minor ones as well!

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