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.

  • Tsuruoka Castle

    Tsuruoka Castle was a Japanese Castle in Tsuruoka Yamagata Prefecture. Today only ruins remain of Tsuruoka Castle.

  • Kaminoyama Castle

    Kaminoyama Castle, also known as Tsukioka Castle, is a hilltop style Japanese Castle in the city of Kaminoyama Yamagata Prefecture . Kaminoyama Castle was constructed by Buei Yoshitada of Mogami Clan in 1535 to provide protection to the clan’s southern border. Kaminoyama Castle played a key role in the battles Read more [...]

  • Hagi Castle

    Hagi Castle, also known as Shizuki Castle, is a flatland style Japanese Castle in the city of Hagi Yamaguchi Prefecture. While Hagi Castle was a flatland style castle, it was in many respects also a hilltop style castle as it had a turret part way up the mountain behind the Read more [...]

  • Iwakuni Castle

    Iwakuni Castle was a Japanese Castle in Iwakuni Yamaguchi Prefecture which was completed in 1608, only to be dismantled in 1615 as part of the Tokugawa Shogun ate order of “One Castle Per Province”. Today there is modern reconstruction of Iwakuni Castle.

  • Kofu Castle

    Kofu Castle, also known as Maizuru Castle, is a hilltop style Japanese Castle in Kofu Yamanashi Prefecture. In 1583, after Toyotomi Hideyoshi unified Japan he ordered the construction of Kofu Castle. The construction of Kofu Castle was completed by Asano Nagamasa (Toyotomi’s brother-in-law) and Nagamasa’s son. After the Battle of Read more [...]