All Japanese Castles

Japanese Castles

Guide to over 130 Japanese Castles including history, design, architecture, pictures and interactive map.  Only one Japanese Castle has UNESCO World Heritage Site status, the recently restored Himeji Castle. Three other castles, along with Himeji Castle, have been declared National Treasures by the Japanese Government: Hikone Castle, Matsumoto Castle and Inuyama Castle.

Japanese castles were frequently constructed in strategic locations to protect important transport routes such as bridges, rivers or ports. Others were built to dominate a landscape and provide a final point of defense. Many Japanese castles were the basis for the development of cities, while others were located in difficult to reach mountain tops.

The most common type of Japanese castle is the Flat Land, that 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, turrets and donjon or main tower.

Himeji Castle UNESCO World Heritage Site

Himeji Castle UNESCO World Heritage Site

Japanese castles really came of age in the 14th century, reaching their peak in 17th century. However by the late 19th century the roll of castles had change. Modern canons of the time could destroy enough from a distance making castles far more vulnerable than they had been in the past. This meant castles were no longer of such great defensive value, however they still represented a symbol of great power over the people of a region, who didn’t have any weapons that could threaten a castle. With most of Japan unified under one relatively recent central government, the remaining castles represented symbols of regional power that could threaten the level of control a distant government could exert. It was during this period the Meiji Restoration, when most castles either had their donjon (main tower) or in some cases almost all stone work disassembled.

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    Nijo Castle

    Nijo Castle in the heart of Kyoto includes Ninomaru Palace and several beautiful Japanese gardens. Nijo Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and forms part of the “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)” listing. In 1603 Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun, ordered the construction of the read more

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    Osaka Castle

    Osaka Castle is Osaka’s most popular attraction and famous landmark. Osaka Castle sets an imposing sight by day or night from its raised vantage point surrounded by imposing walls and moats. Osaka Castle is a flat land style Japanese Castle which features thirteen structures which are designated Important Cultural Properties. There is a read more

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    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. In 1992 Himeji Castle was recognised by UNESCO as a building of read more

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    Hiroshima Castle

    Hiroshima Castle is flatland style Japanese castle in Hiroshima city. Mori Terumoto ordered the construction Hiroshima Castle in 1589 and it was completed in 1591. Hiroshima Castle featured three concentric moats plus additional protection was provided by Hongawa River (called Otagawa River at the time). The original Hiroshima Castle was read more

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    Shuri Castle

    Shuri Castle in Shuri Okinawa and is a World Heritage Site. Shuri Castle is a gusuku (Okinawa) style Japanese Castle which dates back to the 14th century, and was constructed by the Ryukyu kingdom. Shuri Castle contained the palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom. In 1945 the castle was almost completely read more

  • Tahara Castle

    Tahara Castle (also known as Hako Castle) was a Japanese Castle in Tahara Aichi Prefecture. Munemitsu Toda constructed Tahara Castle in 1480. Today the Tahara Municipal Museum is on the site.

  • Yoshida Castle

    Yoshida Castle (also known as Imahashi Castle and Toyohashi Castle) is a flatland style Japanese Castle in Toyohashi Aichi Prefecture Prefecture. Makino Kohaku ordered the construction of Yoshida Castle which was completed in 1505. on a strategic river crossing, Yoshida Castle was involved in many battles during the Sengoku Period. read more

  • Nirengi Castle

    Nirengi Castle was a Japanese Castle in what is now Toyohashi Aichi Prefecture Prefecture. Toda Munemitsu ordered the construction of Nirengi Castle in 1493 as a forward base to be used against Tame Matasaburo who had completed Funagatayama Castle only the year before. Ordered by Makino Kohaku, Imabashi Castle was read more

  • Nishikawa Castle

    Nishikawa Prefecture Castle was a Japanese Castle in what is now Toyohashi Aichi Prefecture. Saigo Kiyokazu ordered the construction of Nishikawa Castle around the 1530’s to provide support to Wachigaya Castle. After the Siege of Odawara Castle in 1590, there was a great redistribution of territories and Nishikawa Castle was read more

  • Noda Castle

    Noda Castle was a Japanese Castle in what is now Shinshiro Aichi Prefecture. Suganuma Sadanori constructed a fort on the site in 1508, which was lost in battle to the Imagawa clan in 1560. Suganuma Sadanori won control of the fort again in 1562, only to loose it again briefly read more