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.

  • Fukuoka Castle

    Fukuoka Castle, also known as Maizuru Castle, was a hilltop style Japanese Castle adjacent to Ohori Koen (Park) in Fukuoka. Nagamasa ordered the construction of Fukuoka Castle in 1601. When Fukuoka Castle was completed in 1607 it had 47 turrets and covered 47,000 square metres making it the largest castle Read more [...]

  • Nihonmatsu Castle

    Nihonmatsu Castle, also known as Kasumiga Castle, is a mountain top style Japanese Castle in Nihonmatsu Fukushima Prefecture. Nihonmatsu Castle was built around 1430 and was destroyed by fire in 1586. In 1643 a new castle was built at the base of the mountain, but was demolished in the Meiji Read more [...]

  • Obama Castle

    Obama Castle was a hilltop style Japanese Castle near the city of Nihonmatsu Fukushima Prefecture. Obama Castle was constructed by the Ishibashi clan members in the Muromachi period. In 1568 Ouchi Yoshitsuna defeated Ishibashi Naoyoshi and took control of the Shiomatsu area which included Obama Castle. Ouchi Sadatsuna was defeated Read more [...]

  • Komine Castle

    Komine Castle, also known as Shirakawa Castle, is a hilltop style Japanese Castle in the city of Shirakawa Fukushima Prefecture. Chikatomo Yuki ordered the construction of Komine Castle in 1340. By 1627 control of Komine Castle had changed to Nagashige Niwa, who in 1628 ordered the removal of 100,000 stone Read more [...]

  • Aizu Wakamatsu Castle

    Aizu Wakamatsu Castle, also known as Tsuruga Castle, is a hilltop style Japanese Castle in the city of Aizu Wakamatsu Fukushima Prefecture. When Aizu Wakamatsu Castle was first constructed in 1384 under the orders of Ashina Naomori, it was named Kurokawa Castle. In 1589 Aizu Wakamatsu Castle was captured by Read more [...]

  • Takayama Castle

    Takayama Castle, in Takayama, was built on a 627m high mountain with stone base, earth work defenses and a moat. Construction of Takayama Castle began in 1588 and by 1600 the main and secondary castle keeps were completed. Today only some ruins and walls remain of Takayama Castle.

  • Gifu Castle

    Gifu Castle is a hill top style Japanese castle in Gifu. Gifu Castle was originally built in 1201 by the Nikaido clan. Gifu Castle was later destroyed in 1600. The castle was later restored only to be destroyed again during the second world war. The current Gifu Castle> is a Read more [...]

  • Gujo Hachiman Castle

    Gujo Hachiman Castle is a hilltop style Japanese Castle on Mt Hachiman in Gujo Gifu Prefecture. Endo Morikazu ordered the construction of Gujo Hachiman Castle which was completed in 1559. Morikazu died shortly after and his son Endo Yoshitaka took control of the castle, however when Yoshitaka become a retainer Read more [...]

  • Minowa Castle

    Minowa Castle was a flatland style Japanese Castle in Takasaki Gunma Prefecture. Minowa Castle was constructed in 1526 by Nagano Narimasa and cover an extensive forty seven hectares. In 1566 Minowa Castle was besieged by the Takeda clan in what is now know as the Siege of Minowa. Minowa Castle Read more [...]

  • Iwabitsu Castle

    Iwabitsu Castle was a hilltop style Japanese Castle on Mt Iwabitsu in Higashigatsuma Gunma Prefecture. Iwabitsu Castle was contructed by the Azuma Taro Sukefusa in 15th century. In 1615 Tokugawa Ieyasu declared that each province could only have one castle, so Iwabitsu Castle was dismantled, so Ueda Castle could be Read more [...]