Japanese Castles - Guide to over 130 Japanese Castles including history, design, architecture, Japanese Castle pictures and interactive map.

Japanese castles were frequently constructed in strategic locations to protect important transport routes such as bridges, rivers or ports. Other Japanese castles were built to dominate a landscape and provide a final point of defence. Many Japanese castles were the basis for the development of cities, while others were located in difficult to reach mountain tops. Most Japanese castle featured one or more moats, plus one or more sets of outer walls, then a raised platform where the inner castle buildings were protected by a series of large stone walls, turrents and donjon or tower. Japanese castles really came of age in the 14th century, reaching their peak in 17th century and by the late 19th century most were being disassembled as part of the Meiji Restoration.

Japanese Castle

Himeji Castle - the best example of a Japanese Castle


Here is a list of some of the most famous Japanese castles, they are grouped according the approximate condition they are in. Those highlighted in yellow are UNESO World Heritage Sites.


These Japanese Castles have been declared to be at least a National Treasure by the Japanese Government as they are in very good condition and close to original condition as it practable.

Hikone Castle

Hikone Castle is a hilltop style Japanese Castle located in Hikone Shiga Prefecture near Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan. Hikone Castle is one of the oldest intact Japanese castles and is classified as an Important National Cultural Asset. Construction of Hikone Castle was ordered of Shogun Ii Naokatsu in 1603 and was completed in 1622. The three- story Tenshu (main keep) was built in 1575 as a part of Otsu Castle and moved to Hikone Castle when it was built. Other parts of the castle were moved from Nagahama Castle.

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle is the best example of a Japanese castle as it has never been destroyed or even damaged in war. Himeji Castle was completed in 1609, but a fort existed on the site as early as 1333. Himeji Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the "Himeji-jo" listing. Himeji Castle is a flatland style Japanese castle, located in Himeji Hyogo Prefecture.

Inuyama Castle is a Japanese castle, located in the city of Inuyama Aichi Prefecture, near Nagoya.Inuyama Castle is thought to be the oldest Japanese Castle with the original castle starting construction in 1440, however there many additions and upgrades over time. Most of Inuyama Castle is in original condition with the main tower or donjon being a National Treasure.

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle is a flatland style Japanese Castle is located in Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture. Matsumoto Castle is one of only four Japanese Castles that is classified as a National Treasure. Matsumoto Castle, also known as Crow Castle because of its distinctive black exterior, relied heavily on its walls, moats and gatehouses for its defence. Matsumoto Castle started life in 1504 when a fort, referred to as Fukashi Castle, was built on its current site.


See our interactive Japanese Castle Map which allows you to see the location of all the Japanese Castles and their related information.


Here is a list of best Japanese Castle resources and web sites I have found on the web. These web sites include additional information or pictures of Japanese Castles which are not currently available on Go Japan Go.


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Author: Craig Fryer



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