Japan and Its Majestic Castles
Any vacation to Japan will (and must) include some form of sightseeing. Many a times, tourists would want to visit a Japanese castle at least once. Here we list down those that we’ve been to, as well as how to get there. A little less known fact is that every Japanese castle has its own commemorative coins. It is made in the exact same dimension and weight, so much so it makes a pretty nifty souvenir. And an obsession for some (us).
The 12 Remaining Original Castles of Japan
The first of such commemorative coins from a Japanese castle I’ve ever collected was at Matsumoto Castle. Unknowingly, and oblivious to its rich heritage. It was only at Himeji Castle that we’ve developed this obsession for collecting such souvenirs. This list journeys our conquest to collect all of the 12 coins from across Japan. At all the castles we’ve been to so far, the commemorative coin machine is located pretty prominently at the souvenir store. Except at Inuyama, where the coin machine is at the nearby museum instead.
1) Matsumoto Castle
Date: 16 April 2017
Address: 4-1 Marunouchi, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-0873, Japan
Been here with my poly gang on my very first trip to Japan back in 2017. Kudos to @eventualchan for bringing us (@walikoyu and @auzhen) on our maiden trip to Japan! My impression of this place was the blooming sakura trees, and cooling weather. The wooden interior is said to be preserved as one of the most authentic interiors. Would really recommend going if you happen to be at Matsumoto. An easy way to get there is to walk for about 20 minutes from JR Matsumoto Station.
2) Himeji Castle
Date: 6 April 2018
Address: 68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyogo 670-0012, Japan
On our Osaka Trip, we made it a point to arrive early at Himeji Castle. We knew this place would be crowded, given it was world heritage site and it was sakura season. Travelling to Himeji Station from downtown Osaka would take around an hour and half. Thereafter, a 20 minutes walk all the way from the north exit of Himeji Station. From the station, you’ll see the castle keep in the distance, so you’ll know for sure that’s the correct direction to walk towards.
3) Hikone Castle
Date: 8 November 2018
Address: 1-1 Konkicho, Hikone, Shiga 522-0061, Japan
We visited Hikone Castle on our Tokyo Trip in autumn of 2018. Hikone is not near any of the major cities, and there’re multiple ways to get there. You could get there from Osaka/Kyoto, or from Kanazawa. We arrived from the direction of Nagoya, an hour or so away. Walking from Hikone Station to the castle takes 15 minutes. One thing to try here at Hikone is the famous Ōmi beef.
4) Inuyama Castle
Date: 9 November 2018
Address: Kitakoken-65-2 Inuyama, Aichi 484-0082, Japan
On the second consecutive day, we visited Inuyama Castle. It wasn’t as large as the first 3, but probably worth a visit as it is only a short trip away from downtown Nagoya. It would make a good comparison if you’ve been to the Nagoya Castle museum. Again, it is just a 20 minute walk from the nearby Inuyama Station.
5) Hirosaki Castle (and the Remaining…)
Estimated Date: 30 December 2019
And so, we’ll be visiting Hokkaido at the end of 2019. As of writing, after visiting Hirosaki Castle, we’d be left with Bitchū Matsuyama Castle, Kōchi Castle, Marugame Castle, Maruoka Castle, Matsue Castle, Matsuyama Castle (Iyo) and Uwajima Castle. We estimated that we’ll complete our conquest by the year 2024.
Other Restored Japanese Castles
Apart from the dozen original castles, the rest of the 100 castles scattered across the whole of Japan. Many of these castles were damaged during World War II, and have undergone years of restoration. All of these were built as exact replicas of how the castles originally were, and generally transformed into museums. We aren’t that big of a fan of museums, so our primary objective was always to visit the original ones. Nevertheless, it also also worthy to pop by the castle grounds during spring or autumn to enjoy the scenery and festivals. If you are a collector like us, you might want to get yourself some of these Japanese castle commemorative coins too.
1) Nagoya Castle
Date: 18 April 2017
Address: 1-1 Honmaru, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0031, Japan
During my trip to Japan in 2017, I visited the Nagoya Castle museum with my buddies. Because we stayed near Sakae, and had the bus pass so it was a direct access from our hotel. Nevertheless, if you’d travel by subway, the closest station is Hisayaodori Station and the castle is just 5 minutes away.
2) Osaka Castle
Date: 5 April 2018
Address: 1-1 Ōsakajō, Chūō-ku, Osaka, 540-0002, Japan
Although we’re not a fan of the castle museums, but Osaka Castle is one of the main attractions in Osaka. The surrounding gardens are huge, do expect lots of crowd, and cater for half a day if you’d like to cover the whole place in a relaxing manner. We got off at Tanimachi Yonchōme Station and only walked for about 10 minutes before reaching the southwest gates.