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.

  • Matsuyama Castle

    Matsuyama Castle is a hilltop style Japanese Castle, on Mt Matsuyama in the city of Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture. Matsuyama Castle was completed in 1603 with a five story donjon (keep) which was relocated from Aizu Castle. In 1642 Matsudaira Sadayuki completed a new donjon, which was later destroyed by a read more

  • Ozu Castle

    Ozu Castle is a Japanese Castle in Ozu, Ehime Prefecture on the island of Shikoku. Ozu Castle was constructed by the order of Utsunomiya Toyofusa in 1331. Between 1585 and 1617 was upgraded and modified to the form that lasted until 1888 when most of the buildings including the donjon read more

  • Uwajima Castle

    Uwajima Castle is a Japanese Castle in Uwajima, Ehime Prefecture, is also known as Tsurushima-jo. Uwajima Castle was built in 1596 and was expanded in 1671. The donjon (tower) is a designated Important Cultural Property.

  • Yuzuki Castle

    Yuzuki Castle was a Japanese Castle near Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama Ehime Prefecture. Yuzuki Castle was upgraded from a fort in the 16th century, but was destroyed in battle in 1585 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Today only a few reconstructed buildings and earthworks remain.

  • Imabari Castle

    Imabari Castle is a Mizujiro (castle in the sea) style Japanese Castle on the coast line in Imabari, Ehime Prefecture on the island of Shikoku. Imabari Castle was constructed by the order of Todo Takoatora in 1604, as a replacement for Kokufu Castle, on Mt Karako, which proved an unsuitable read more

  • Maruoka Castle

    Maruoka Castle, in Maruoka in Fukui Prefecture, is famous for having the oldest donjon (keep) of any Japanese Castle. Maruoka Castle was built in 1576 under orders from Shibata Katsutoyo, however it was destroyed in the 1948 Fukui Earthquake. Only the donjon was rebuilt in 1955 using materials largely from read more

  • Fukui Castle

    Fukui Castle was a Japanese Castle in Fukui Fukui Prefecture. There is another unrelated castle in Osaka Prefecture also called Fukui Castle. Fukui Castle was constructed on the orders of Yuki Hideyasu in 1606 north of the older nearby Kitanosho Castle. Fukui Castle was given its name by its next read more

  • Echizen Ono Castle

    Echizen Ono Castle, also known as Ono Castle and Kameyama Castle, is a hilltop style Japanese Castle in Ono Fukui Prefecture. Kanamori Nagachika ordered the construction of Echizen Ono Castle, which was completed in 1576. In 1586 Nagachika moved to Takayama Castle. In 1775 most of Echizen Ono Castle was read more

  • Fuchu Castle

    Fuchu Castle, also known as Echizen Fuchu Castle, was a flatland style Japanese Castle in Echizen Fukui Prefecture. Maeda Toshiie ordered the construction of Fuchu Castle, which was completed in 1575. Fuchu Castle was just one of many castle built in the Echizen area. Today almost nothing can be seen read more

  • Kokura Castle

    Kokura Castle is Japanese Castle in Kitakyushu Fukuoka Prefecture. Hosokawa Tadaoki ordered the construction of Kokura Castle in 1602. Between 1632 and 1860 Kokura Castle was controlled by the Ogasawara clan. In 1865 Kokura Castle was destroyed by fire during the war between the Kokura and Choshu clans. In 1959 read more